Les Misérables – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis


Sup yall? This week, we beastin through the darkness with “Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo. After 19 years of hard time in a French prison fo stealin bread to feed his fam, Jean Valjean all cashed out lookin fo help. Nobody in town showin him any love, til a righteous holy man named Myriel like, “come on in, padna!” But, when da police catch Valjean tryna boost Myriel’s silverware, Myriel jus’ let it slide and tell the fuzz he gave it to him as a gift. Myriel say, “look man, I just saved yo ass. You best stop all dat hood sh*t and become a better man, yo!” After one last dick move — jackin some coin from a lil kid — Valjean break down and decide he gotta put his bangin days behind him. He change his name to Monsieur Madeleine and move to a new town, where he start stackin mad cheddar. Before you know it, brutha becomes the Goddamn mayor! Meanwhile, this po girl, Fantine, be straight buggin — Number one, she desperate fo cash. And, number two — her man just left her with a love-child named Cosette, and there ain’t no way she gonna get work if word gets out about her. So, this shysti dude named Thenardier say Cosette can hide with him and his fam, so long as Fantine throw em some ends erry month. Fantine lands a gig grindin at Madeleine’s factory, but gets da axe as soon as errybody find out bout Cosette. And with the Thenardiers greedy, lyin asses hittin her up fo mo cash, sh*t so raw for Fantine that she gotta sell her hair, her teeth, and start turnin tricks on da streets. Plus, all this sh*t is literally killin her. Damn. One night, the local law-man, Javert, arrests Fantine, but, Madeleine step in, tells Javert to hop off, and start to give Fantine a lil TLC. When Javert figure out Madeline’s real identity, Javert cuff him right in front of Fantine. Girl wigs out so hard, she up and dies. By the way, Valjean’s real identity only hit da streets cuz he wanted to save somebody’s life. Thankfully, ain’t no cell can keep dat boy, Valjean, down. Dude swings back to town to save Cosette from dem hater Thenardiers, who been treatin her like sh*t fo years. Valjean drop some fat stacks, buys her off em, and chunks deuces to Paris. Things aight in Paris fo a lil while, but when Javert hear that Valjean back in town, Val and Cosette gotta pack their sh*t and lay low in a convent. Years later, a dude named Marius peep game at a dime and immediately falls balls-deep in love! And, what do you know? It’s Cosette, all grown up. Lookin good, girl! Look what he said bout dis girl — “The woman whom he now saw was a noble, beautiful creature, with all the most bewitching feminine outlines at the precise moment when they are still combined with all the most charming graces of childhood — that pure and fleeting moment that can only be translated by these two words: sweet fifteen.” Ugh! Marius try to holler at a girl, but Valjean moves they asses outta there before a brotha can get his mack on. Marius gets a tip about Cosette’s new digs and they eventually meet and confess they love fo each other. ‘Cept, Valjean ain’t down wit that. And, with all da political unrest goin down in the streets, Valjean decides it’s time fo them to roll out to England. Marius gets so tore up dat he ain’t gonna be with his baby dip, that he decide he don’t give a f**k no mo and gonna join da revolution. When Valjean figure out dat Cosette and Marius are in love fo real, he can’t let loverboy get his ass murked, so he straps up and joins the fight, too. When da rebels find out that Javert a royalist snitch, they give Valjean the job of ghostin his ass. But, Valjean — bein a nice dude and all — just lets him walk away. Lata’, Marius get pretty messed up and Valjean gotta carry his ass through some boo-boo sewers to get him help. Valjean runs in to Javert again, and Valjean finally like, “Aight, aight. You can arrest me. Just let me drop this dude off at his crib, and make one last stop at my pad.” Javert oblige a brotha, but start losin his sh*t when he realize he compromising everything his life stood for, and straight ends it. Marius heals up and him and Cosette get hitched. S’all good, right? Nah. Not in this f**kin book. Valjean tells Marius about his crimin days, and Marius start givin Valjean the cold shoulder. Our boy gets da hint and stops droppin by. Dat little sh*t Marius got no idea it was Valjean that saved his ass in that sewer. With nothin left to live for, Valjean start wastin away, hops in bed, and doesn’t ever leave. Lata’, Marius conversatin wit Thenardier when brotha finally recognize dat da only reason he alive is cuz of Valjean. Plus, Valjean the only reason he wit Cosette now. Oh yeah — and Valjean left em mad bank. Feelin like a real assh*le, Marius and Cosette swing over to Valjean’s spot and forgive him. Now, Valjean can die in peace. Man, this book is straight relentless — gnarly prisons, po girls turnin tricks, disease wastin everybody! V-hug gonna lay out da worst that life’s got to offer, and he throws out his biggest beefs in the preface. “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century — the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night — are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.” So, three big things he buckin — rich people takin advantage of da workin man, women starving to death, and little kids drownin in a dark world dat ain’t got no hope. In short, Hugo wagin war on a society that’s f**kin over its peeps. In fact, that’s one of Hugo’s main jams in this big-ass book: Society got da power to completely wreck somebody — and not only their body, but their soul, too. Whether it da big house dat turn Valjean into a stone-cold gangster, or da poverty and shaming that make Fantine turn to a life of hookin — society burnin everybody. Like Valjean himself say, “The prison makes the convict. Make of this what you like. Before prison, I was a poor peasant, unintelligent, a sort of idiot; prison changed me. I was stupid, I became wicked; I was a log, I became a firebrand.” And, lemme tell you a lil somethin, man — society didn’t break no regular erryday thug. Valjean is hella swole, man — fo real. On page 90, it even say he got the got da strength of four men. He still ain’t got nuttin on deez guns. Don’t hate. But no matter how jacked Valjean be, he still ain’t got da muscle to flex with a broken system. Hugo’s book ain’t all bad, though. For Javert’s ice-cold justice, there’s Myriel’s mercy. For Thenardier’s greed, we see Valjean’s willingness to give away everything — even his life. And, fo all the darkness that society can drop on a brotha, there’s also light. We got da power to lift each other up and redeem erry brotha and sista with love and kindness. Valjean and Cosette reppin this idea perfectly: “He loved, and he grew strong again. Alas, he was as frail as Cosette. He protected her, and she gave him strength. Thanks to him, she could walk upright in life; thanks to her, he could persist in virtue. He was this child’s support, and she was his prop and staff.” Valjean try to make this same point to a bunch of hoods while they gardening. “One day [Valjean] saw some peasants busily pulling out nettles; he looked at the heap of plants, uprooted, and already wilted, and said, ‘…If we took a little time, the nettle would be useful; we neglect it, and it becomes harmful. Then we kill it. Men are so like the nettle!’ After a short silence, he added, ‘My friends, remember this: There are no bad herbs, and no bad men; there are only bad cultivators.” As all my well-read ballas know, my number one motto is “Don’t Judge a Book by its cover.” Y’all know I’m all about that. But, lemme leave you with my number two motto, which “Les Mis” perfectly reppin: Don’t ever underestimate yo own power and how much of a difference you can make. If you let anger, hatred, and injustice keep you down, ain’t no tellin what kinda harm you can do. But, if you let love and light guide the way, then the world’s dark side can’t touch you. You got da power to cultivate good in da world. Use it. Thanks for keepin it real with me, my well-read ballas. Sparky Sweets out! Peace!

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100 thoughts on “Les Misérables – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis”

  1. Kiran Roye says:

    do War and Peace

  2. rancor03 says:

    I'm tardy to the Thug Notes party, but one thing you missed is that Javier, though strict, is a good man at heart. He actually kills himself over a crisis of conscience when he finally recognizes that Jean Valjean is a good man which goes against his belief that people cannot change. Once a criminal, always a criminal. Javier cannot bring himself to arrest Jean Valjean the good man because to do goes against his belief in good, but his absolute faith in Law means that he must arrest him. He cannot rectify the two beliefs and takes the only option that will allow him to not betray his personal ethos or his belief in the law and kills himself.

  3. Olivia Kym says:

    Mytholgy (Edith Hamilton)

  4. Adriana Shannon says:

    please do a catcher in the rye!!!!!

  5. Samuel Mineiro says:

    I actually really this when I was twelve… unabridged.

  6. Maggie Schmitt says:

    What about eponine?

  7. YatsuNoko says:

    ayo homeboy…drop some knowledge on that sorrows of young werther shit by goethe

  8. Glory Lyfe says:

    Jean didn't steal anything from the kid, he didn't take the coin. The kid dropped it and jean was so zoned out he didn't realize he was standing on it. The kid was so afraid of jean that he ran away and left the coin there. Jean left Money with every person who might know the kid.

  9. Chloe Stein says:

    Gulliver's Travels!!

  10. Conall McCormick says:

    I don't like how nobody talks about Marius's grandfather from the book and the fact he isn't in the musical. His morality is quite interesting and shows how stubborn political views can be detrimintal to one's morality. Still a great video though.

  11. Evert Clowting says:

    Sparky need to holla dem 50 Shades of Grey yo!!!

  12. Pretty Girl Productions says:

    You guys should do.
    The mayflower.
    Or go ask alice

  13. A Nobody says:

    Hugo is a communist hence all the communist imagery and themes in the book

  14. Robert Morgan says:

    It's all good, right?
    NAW, not in THIS fuckin' book!

  15. Ellie Salsman says:

    do the hunchback of Notre dame!!!!

  16. slim.g says:

    i'm fucking dead

  17. Tuxedo Ninja says:

    Not in this fucking book

  18. Muffy Ram says:

    I would love to see you analyze Touching Spirit Bear.

  19. Saskia Sayed says:

    Can you please do the Narnia books?

  20. km mk says:

    This was so helpful. I'm trying out for a musical "les miserables" and I finally understand it.

  21. pinto eugene says:

    study in scarlet

  22. Don Eisenbarth says:

    2:40 is Roy Moore
    3:10 is everyone else.

  23. Crista Guerrero Donovan says:

    Angela's Ashes would be a great book to annotate!

  24. ThatManinWhite says:

    Do Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  25. Jean-Philippe Millard says:

    This video be ballin' homie! I digged it!

  26. Jorge Perez says:

    thanks for that final message man

  27. geez says:

    jesus christ this helped me a bunch, thanks b keep it real

  28. Joseph Flow says:

    I think I'm calling the pooo-lees!!

  29. Guillermo Tamayo Romero says:

    The hunchback of Notre Dame, jo

  30. bored and trapped in the country, ye ha! Not says:

    lol, that was hilarious!!!! love YA

  31. Ulrike says:

    since you've done the goldfinch, surely its time for the secret history??

  32. JP Alpharo says:

    Can you do the three musketeers

  33. Johanna Diaz says:

    Twilight would be hilarious

  34. TL garrett says:

    The ScrewTape Letters

  35. orlandobabe says:

    I hope to see Sparky review on The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  36. Munch Kin says:

    This doesn't even touch love unrequited from the girl in the revolution. She was crushing hard, and died to save his life.

  37. Larissa Johnson says:

    could you please do Room by Emma Donoghue

  38. Tara Thelen says:

    Yet the muiscal is like 3 hours long

  39. K channel says:

    Please review foundation my Isaac asimov

  40. Stubs 87 says:

    can you please do The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

  41. Aloeveranxious says:

    I was sad today…. until I watched this video 🙂

  42. Victoria Lehman says:

    can you do Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy?

  43. mazsola says:

    where is epoinine??

  44. Serena Buntin says:

    8:56 I knew that wasn't his real voice! Hey everybody he's a phoney!

  45. Nkiruka J says:

    “This book is relentless!” I mean yea, it’s called Les Misérables, because they’re miserable…

  46. Wendy Carbajal says:

    Anne of green gables please

  47. Roderick Molasar says:

    Where can I find a size-10 pair of leather fingerless gloves? Please don't hate me because I'm so bleeping suave.

  48. Erica Richter says:

    yall forgot about Eponine being friend-zoned TO THE MAX

  49. ejl writing says:

    "sweet fifteen" ERGH

  50. Jonathan Locke says:

    Website not working, for  a t shirt.

  51. Quarantined Cosmonaut says:

    You slay me!

  52. Flare Animo says:

    do Hamilton!

  53. jamie platta says:

    Do Hunchback of notre dame!!!

  54. Rose Musarra says:

    Yo where was Eponine?

  55. Helton 342 says:

    Wait a sec… Wasnt there an Anime based of this book? Remembers it there actually is one :D!! And it was a great anime that i grew up with :D!! (this is the first time im knowing about the book though…)

  56. Lauren Arnold says:

    I think if more people understood this book the world will be a better place

  57. lexalina132 says:

    “Sall good right? Nope! Not in this fuckin’ book!” Yup, sounds like Victor Hugo.

  58. Otaku 101 says:

    You forgot Eponine.

  59. jonathan picard says:

    Les misérables Is also about a comparison between characters with similar back ground – poverty- (Tannardier, Valjean and Javert) and how they reacted to it (resentful and abuse the system, try to do better for yourself and other, understanding the law and applying it).
    Valjean working against the law only when it feel that it is unfair essentially. He escape from the world of Jean Valjean where he was less paid then the others, he escape from the law when someone was being accuse for his crime (clearing the poor man names before escaping), try to redeemed himself in the face of unfairness (an innocent child lost with bad people without a mother, an innocent love to be broken if Marius dies, etc.). He oppose the law when it is unfair, not always like the Tannardier.
    Even though, he oppose the law in those circumstances, he try to give to Cosette a life that would be good within the society structure giving the system a redeeming quality – a goodness after all -. Oppose the law when it’s bad, but don’t destroy it. Don’t forget that the young idealist dies in this story trying to do their revolution. Try to better the society through individual actions. All characters are representation of ways to see the world and how to act in it. The result of the story speak for itself as for the message which I do mostly agree.
    It a way of considering the story like many more like it.

  60. jolks no homo says:

    i love you sparky 💕

  61. jred mc says:

    Thanks for that last part. I needed to hear that

  62. MisterTutor2010 says:

    Sweet Fifteen?

    Two more words: Jail Bait 🙂

  63. MisterTutor2010 says:

    No Russell Crowe jokes? 🙁


  64. SREH1963 says:

    How is that painting at 5:19 named?

  65. Doom Cloud says:

    Do you have a ted talk? Please tell me you’ve been hired as a writer! These are wonderful!

  66. Ann-Marie Lavoie says:

    Oh, my dear god, that is the best analysis of this book I've heard. I love it! THANK YOU!

  67. Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    Yo. First gotta say I love you. I enjoy watching you talk about great literature. You have great insight. But I was disappointed in this one. Why didn't you talk about Eponine? Her character was instrumental in showing how even unrequited love can be noble and virtuous and how even child brought up by shitty parents can possess something heroic and amazing. Dude… Why?

  68. MikSofa :3 says:

    Thanks for cutting all the extra and juicing down this book to its bare essentials

  69. Jenna Sakol says:

    Did Éponine just cease to exist in this explanation? 😂

  70. The 'Weekly' FanGirl says:

    "All good, right?

    NAH. Not in THIS fuckin' book!"


  71. Reehji says:

    la Marseillaise in 1812 overture at the end <3

  72. Dos Caffeine says:

    The book goes into greater detail about each of the characters, and each of their back stories. And it's just sad, as in depressingly sad, it kind of makes you feel greatful for what you have in life.

  73. Nonamearisto says:

    The summary here, while understandably brief given the format, gives on the false impression that Les Miserables is the book of "it's society's fault!" While it is true that an unjust social order is condemned many times, individual evil made entirely by individual initiative is pervasive, such as the Thernardiers exploitation of Fantine and Cosette, or why Marius is suck a jerk. Blaming society for all of life's problems is NOT what Victor Hugo intended.

  74. SirEriol says:

    I'm sad that it's not possible to summarize every plot line of the book in a video this short. Would have loved to hear about Eponine or Grantaire. That would have been nice.

  75. Wahid Noori says:

    I did not understand 50 percent of what he says.

  76. Rusell Mirza says:

    Shut up you shit head !

  77. Usama Zahid says:

    Thug Notes, I love your versions of any literature in your style giving me the BEST THE BEST explanation of what any author said in the books. Imagine if the cast of the movie of the same name were watching this video, they'd be laughing their asses off, brutha.

  78. Matthew Payne says:

    3:10 is my new screensaver

  79. Jet Villanueva says:

    Please read us something like Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal

  80. Watch Out Pianists says:

    Please do the “hunch back of Notre Dame”

  81. Shameless Commisar says:

    I humbly ask you to do “The Comedy Of Errors”.

  82. Kate Pastrana says:

    What major events happened in the life of each characters throughout the novel and how did his character evolved in the novel?

    Pleasee answers meee thankyouuu

  83. Malena Ross says:


  84. Peewee Herman says:

    Please stop singing!

  85. Crunch says:

    You know nothing of javert
    I was born inside a jail
    I was born with men like you
    I am from the gutter too

  86. Michael Pisciarino says:

    0:21 The Summary
    Street boy becomes a mayor,
    Meets Fantaine, Cosset stuck
    Javert cuffs Jean Valjean, Valjean gets Cosset, Marius falls in love with grown up Cosset, Valjean thinks they should head to England, Valjean won’t kill Javert, Through The sewers, ok arrest me but let Marius go, Javert ends his story, Valjean did it all for Cosset, Valjean died in peace

    5:10 Analysis
    Justice, Mercy, Sacrifice, Love And Kindness

  87. Ser Arrec of the Dreadfort says:

    Who when they where a kid though this meant less miserables.

  88. ChiTown Momma says:

    Duuude! Just watched Les Mis on Masterpiece with my 11 yr old daughter and wanted to find a "Cliff Notes" version for her…well…ya nailed it, brother! Thanks!❤💋

  89. tony TAW Productions HD says:

    Do the hunchback of Notre Dame!!!

  90. gordoha says:

    Why the fuck did you bleep out the swear words?

  91. Stefan Cocciolone says:

    Now: Theirs a m"an"MAN-ma[n]
    Knocked thrice
    Your challenge !!
    10:0pen 2 20 (Sic < c + x Sew, ma; Gotta cha uh new
    machine. C

  92. JJ Smith says:

    wtf this is the best summary of a book ever
    ps got test tomorrow and haven't finished reading it

  93. Julie Rodabaugh says:

    Lmao. I am gonna show my hubs this good shit. Lol. Thanks.

  94. Archons says:

    Classics are overrated.

  95. Justin Griffin says:

    Ugh, I loved it except Eponine and Les Amis are all missing. Sounds like we need a part 2!

  96. Erin Threlkeld says:

    Classic film about Christlike compassion and self righteousness

  97. Johnny prower says:

    LMAO watch these if u wanna learn a long ass book in 5 min

  98. joao miguel pires says:

    Who starts reading the book, immediately starts hating the movie's adaptations.

  99. TheRealDeal says:

    No more apparel? And do you have women's apparel?

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