Listen&Learn: Les Misérables

Posted by: Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the famous French novel on social inequality

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • literal meaning: the most direct meaning or translation of a word, without considering context
  • marginalized: harmed or neglected by a system, government, or society
  • thief: someone who steals
  • reform: to make something or someone better
  • theme: an important idea in a story
  • injustice: an act that is cruel or unfair
  • inequality: a condition where some people have less rights and opportunities than others

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Les MisĂ©rables is an 1862 novel by French writer and politician Victor Hugo. The , which literally means “the miserable ones”, refers to marginalized members of . The book’s main is a man named Jean Valjean, a thief who wants to reform himself. However, Les MisĂ©rables also has many other individual characters and storylines. Some parts, including the story of Fantine and Cosette, a poor mother and daughter, are inspired by real from Victor Hugo’s life. The book, which is about 1500 long in English and 1900 pages long in French, took Hugo seventeen years to write. It quickly became popular in and outside of France for its themes of injustice and inequality.

Comprehension questions

See answers below

  1. Victor Hugo was a writer and a
    a. musician
    b. painter
    c. politician
  2. The crime committed by the character Jean Valjean was
    a. theft
    b. murder
    c. vandalism
  3. In English, Les Misérables is about
    a. 1500 pages long
    b. 1800 pages long
    c. 1900 pages long

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Les Miserables, like many of Victor Hugo’s works, criticizes the way society treats people who commit crimes in order to survive. Do you think justice systems have improved since Victor Hugo’s time? Why or why not?

Transcript

Les MisĂ©rables is an 1862 novel by French writer and politician Victor Hugo. The title, which literally means “the miserable ones”, refers to marginalized members of society. The book’s main character is a man named Jean Valjean, a thief who wants to reform himself. However, Les MisĂ©rables also has many other individual characters and storylines. Some parts, including the story of Fantine and Cosette, a poor mother and daughter, are inspired by real events from Victor Hugo’s life. The book, which is about 1500 pages long in English and 1900 pages long in French, took Hugo seventeen years to write. It quickly became popular in and outside of France for its themes of injustice and inequality.

Answers to comprehension questions

1c 2a 3a

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub
© EnglishClub.com

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