Watched the film adaptation of the musical adaptation of the novel yesterday – note that I did not weep like a baby . What stuck with me was how awesome the Bishop is. I reread parts of the novel, and it describes him as follows:
He inclined towards all that groans and all that expiates. The universe appeared to him like an immense malady; everywhere he felt fever, everywhere he heard the sound of suffering, and, without seeking to solve the enigma, he strove to dress the wound. The terrible spectacle of created things developed tenderness in him; he was occupied only in finding for himself, and in inspiring others with the best way to compassionate and relieve. That which exists was for this good and rare priest a permanent subject of sadness which sought consolation.
There are men who toil at extracting gold; he toiled at the extraction of pity. Universal misery was his mine. The sadness which reigned everywhere was but an excuse for unfailing kindness. Love each other; he declared this to be complete, desired nothing further, and that was the whole of his doctrine.
It’s honestly a refreshing take on the clergy. Hell, I don’t know if Myriel is an exception to the rule, or represents the true face of Catholicism, but then again, I do not care. He’s just a good human being in a miserable world, and that’s what makes him awesome.
Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (Volume 1) (1862; Madison, 2009), 44-45.