Les Miserables is part thrilling narrative and part social document of life in early 19th-century France. With Valjean, the reader descends into a human hell where suffering and injustice are a way of life. Through his characters, Hugo graphically details the plight of the wretched and the vulnerable. He writes with insight and passion, like that equally great 19th-century commentator and novelist, Charles Dickens. But regardless of its grim subject, Hugo's book is one of hope, a means of proclaiming his belief in the innate goodness of humanity, despite all.