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My In-Depth Investigation ― Four-page research essay. In this paper you will develop skills of credibility, logic, and support necessary to produce successful research writing. This form of writing is used in nursing, medicine, engineering, biology, science, social work, and many, many other professions. Nearly every college class requires a research paper, and this skill is critical for academic and professional success. Your paper will explore a subject that you would like to be better informed about. Details are scintillating, and human beings are drawn towards the nitty-gritty of interesting matters. Select a historical (at this point, that means pre-1980) event, person, phenomenon, etc., and describe the subject in detail. Include differing views, controversies, interpretations, and viewpoints – as many as possible. You are interested in this subject, so explore it – read as much as you can, and report back to me: I’m interested, too. Include 8 reliable sources in your references page. 


Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo was a French poet, novelist, artist, and politician born to Joseph Leopold Sigisbert Hugo and Sophie Trebuchet on 26 February 1802. Leopold was a liberal republican who believed in Napoleon’s rule while Sophia was a royalist who believed in monarchies and did not actively support Napoleon. Hugo, though a royalist in his early years, became a republican in his adult life. Leopold was an officer, and his job required that they moved a lot, Sophie did not embrace this way of life and her husband’s intolerance towards Catholic doctrines. Thus, she separated from Leopold and settled in Paris with the children. It was during this time that she instilled catholic beliefs in them. After the French Revolution, Hugo began to pull away from Catholic royalist beliefs and instead adopted freethinking republicanism (Robb 56). Victor Hugo was a highly controversial figure, and this is demonstrated by his shifting views on religion and changing ideologies. Nevertheless, he played a fundamental role in championing for social justice through his literary works and later on in his position as a political leader.

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In terms of his early life, Hugo married his longtime friend Adele Foucher in 1822 and they had four children: Leopoldine, Charles, Victor, and Adele. Leopoldine, his eldest and favorite daughter, died at a young age, and this greatly influence the themes of his literary works. For example, he wrote many poems about her life, his grief, and the struggle of mourning his daughter.

Moreover, his religious standing shifted greatly during his lifetime. He began as a staunch Catholic, but later on started to question Catholic views particularly its rigidity and conservative nature. Although he remained a Catholic, he was very passive in terms of practicing its doctrines. Later in life, Hugo started learning about Spiritism which was attributed to Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail under the name Allan Kardec. This doctrine was based on spiritualistic teachings on the nature and origin of the world. Subsequently, he sought knowledge on rationalism which views reasoning based on facts as a method of seeking the truth (Robb 78). It entails the use of reality, facts, analysis, and truth-seeking as a way of existence (James 124). This philosophical view significantly influenced his views about life during adulthood.

Besides, Hugo identified himself as a freethinker. Freethinking is based on the pursuit of truth through logic and reason (Hugo 83). By incorporating empiricism, freethinking is somewhat contradictory to rationalism. Freethinkers endeavor to come to their own conclusions based on their own analysis of factors affecting crucial matters such as religion and politics. As a freethinker, Hugo did not believe in the systematic outlines of religious procedures and references such as the Bible (King 108). Like other freethinkers of his time, he found great fault in the lack of evidence concerning these religious references. This demonstrated a radical change of religious views, which is best demonstrated in his works. For example, he criticizes Catholic Church in The Pope, The End of Satan, and God.

On the other hand, Hugo was greatly influenced by Francois Rene de Chateaubriand who spearheaded romanticism in the nineteenth century (Bahrent 12). This literary movement was characterized by emotion and individualistic demonstration (Nash 39). It was profoundly attributed to the Industrial Revolution in Europe in addition to being associated with liberalism, rationalism, and freethinking. However, unlike Hugo, Chateaubriand was a Catholic who often defended the doctrine in many of his works. Nevertheless, Hugo adopted his artistic style in his literary journey and used romantic drawings and art to further his own works.

Meanwhile, it is worthwhile to note that Hugo began his writing career with poetry collection at the age of twenty. With time, he gained recognition as a poet. Later on, he started writing fiction. His first works of fiction was The Last Day of Condemned Man which published in French and went on to become a famous point of reference for many famous authors of his time. Later on, He plunged into the romantic literary scene with plays such as Cromwell and Hernani. One of his most famous and widely translated novels is The Hunchback of Notre-Dame published in 1831 (Hugo 24).

Afterwards, Hugo embarked on a book that would highlight social injustice in France and across Europe. After seventeen years planning he finally published Les Miserables in 1862 (King 45). The novel turned out to be one of his most highly acclaimed works. Initially, it received negative reviews primarily based on the view that it unoriginal, tactless, and tasteless. Nevertheless, it received worldwide readership and turned national attention to some of the social issues affecting his country. Today, it has been adapted for television and it is also being used in many national education curriculums in the study of societal issues. Following the publication of the book, Hugo emerged as a controversial figure who had to go into exile in the Island of Guernsey for fear of persecution. During his exile in the island, he wrote a novel titled Toilers of the Sea, published in 1866. This one, too, was appreciated and widely accepted even though it did not dwell on social and political issues.

Hugo’s next novel, The Man who Laughs, which directly and critically highlighted the issue of aristocracy, was published in 1869.  It did not become popularity, a situation Hugo noted and spoke about. He argued that other authors were now beginning to gain more popularity than him in this genre. In his final novel titled Ninety-Three, published in 1874, he dwelt on the subject of the terror experienced during the French Revolution. This was a sensitive topic because it highlighted a dark period of violence that arose from conflict between the two political parts – the Girondins and the Mountain – before the Revolution. Around 40,000 people who were thought to be opponents of the revolution were executed mainly by guillotine.

After overcoming much opposition from many French Academicians who did not support the romantic evolution, he was finally elected into the Academie francaise in 1841, a position he used to champion the abolition of the death penalty. After being elected to Parliament as a conservative, he quickly fell out with the conservatives for addressing issues of poverty and injustice in addition to promoting the idea of self-governance and freethinking (Raser 67). His numerous publications critical of Napoleon forced him into exile after Napoleon declared him a public enemy (Edward 2). His advocacy on social issues through literary works worsened the situation.

After his return from exile following Napoleon’s fall from power, Hugo faced great loss with the death of his daughter Adele, his two sons, his wife, and mistress (Robb 23). Soon afterwards, he suffered mild strokes and later on died of Pneumonia on 22 May 1885. His funeral attracted over two million people to Paris creating fears of an uprising or violence in Paris. The government took charge of the funeral to prevent any violence and to prepare a glorious festival in celebration of Hugo’s life.

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Hugo was a controversial figure who attracted criticism and admiration in equal measure. His views particularly on religion and philosophy changed dramatically throughout his life. However, he has contributed not only to the literary world but also to the world of politics, global good governance and social justice. His works remain relevant even today, with the issues he highlighted still being prevalent. For instance, his support for romanticism greatly contributed to the popularity of the literary movement.

Works Cited

Bahrent, Megan. “The Enduring Relevance of Victor Hugo.” International Socialist Review, 35 (2016): 10-21. Web.

Edward, Oueselin. “Victor Hugo’s European Utopia.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 34 (2005): 1-2. Web.

Hugo, Victor. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. New York: Signet, 2010. Print.

James, Tony. Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France. Oxord: Clarendon Press, 1995. Print.

King, Mario Vargas. The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Miserables. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007. Web.

Nash, Suzanne. Les Contemplations of Victor Hugo: An Allegory of the Creative Process. Princeton: Princeton Legacy Library, 2015. Print.

Raser, Timothy. The Simplest of Signs: Victor Hugo and the Language of Images in France, 1850-1950. Dover: University of Delaware Press, 2004. Web.

Robb, Graham. Victor Hugo: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. Print.

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