Discuss: Criminals Are Wicked And Deserve Punishment On The Basis Of Chapter The Bishop's Candlesticks?


2 Answers

lakeesha Hennessy Williams Profile
Assuming you are talking about the theme of criminality in the chapter The Bishop's Candlesticks in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, there are a number of points you can make regarding people's approach to criminals and punishment.

In the chapter, a Christian Bishop twice forgives a thief for stealing from him.

Instead of treating him like the rest of society, the Bishop tries to help the criminal, and this ultimately leads to the criminal reforming and accepting the way of God.

Here are my thoughts on criminality and punishment in this context:

Punishing criminals based on The Bishop's Candlesticks The most notable thing about the way the Bishop treats the criminal is that he adopts the same approach that Christ would. He is patient, forgiving, and understanding.

When the criminal first enters the Bishop's house to steal some food, the Bishop makes sure that the intruder is well-fed and has somewhere to sleep.

Nevertheless, the criminal betrays the Bishop's kindness by stealing his precious candlesticks.

When the police catch the criminal with the candlesticks, the Bishop finds it in his heart to forgive the criminal and give him the candlesticks - and it is this kindness which reforms the criminal.

Reforming prisoners according to Victor Hugo This method of 'correcting' someone's evil is central to the idea of Christianity - but it is the complete opposite of what society would do.

In the story The Bishop's Candlesticks, the criminal first began a life of crime when he stole food to feed his sick wife.

When he was caught, he was sentenced to ten years in prison (a little harsh, I think!) and was treated 'like a beast'.

The argument that Victor Hugo makes is that: If you treat a man like a beast, he will become one - which raises the question, 'how do we reform criminals?'

Is throwing them in prison and treating them like animals going to reform them? Or will it simply encourage them to become criminals for life?

In my opinion, I don't think Hugo is saying criminals shouldn't be punished, but I think he's trying to point out that people can be changed through kindness and goodwill.
Amanda Wells Profile
Amanda Wells answered
It's not clear from your question whether you are talking about the short play The Bishop's Candlesticks, or the chapter in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

When you know this, you can make a more detailed search. Meanwhile, you could look at some study sites like this one, where you will find an overview and some more detailed discussion of your texts.

Answer Question