Les Miserables Connection

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will use themes from Victor Hugos novel Les Miserables to help formulate answers to the essential questions, most specifically, the question: Can one person make a difference in making the world a better place?

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • Read the novel Les Miserables and demonstrate comprehension in a seminar format.
  • Use themes from the novel to help answer the essential questions.
  • Make connections between themselves as philanthropists and the character Jean Valjean as a philanthropist.
  • Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables
  • Les Miserables soundtrack
  • Les Miserables Discussion Questions (Handout One) Spanish version (Handout Two)
  • Boublil, Alain and Claude-Michel Schonberg. Les Miserables Original Broadway Cast Recording. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The David Geffen Company, 1987.
  • Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. Abridged with an Introduction by James K. Robinson. Random House, 1996.


  1. Anticipatory Set: (To be used when introducing the novel. The rest of the lesson should occur after students have read the novel.)

    Ask students if they have seen the musical or the movie Les Miserables. Have them share with the class what they know or have experienced in regard to the musical/movie. Play excerpts from the musical’s soundtrack. Explain that Les Miserables is a classic novel about a great philanthropist. Begin reading the novel.

  2. Distribute the Les Miserables Discussion Questions (see Attachment One) to each student. Use these questions for classroom discussion procedure to analyze the book. Rather than discussing the entire book at one time, include shorter discussions after students complete each section.


Students will answer comprehension questions for each section of the novel. They will be evaluated on their participation in the discussion. In addition, a component within the unit’s final paper asks students to make connections between their own work and the themes in the novel.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.