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50 Timeless Quotes From Les Misérables

50 Timeless Quotes From Les Misérables

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a timeless epic of love, loss, and revolution. Set during the French Revolution, this tale depicts the vast suffering of France’s lower classes, and highlights a former prisoner’s attempts to bring love and justice back into daily life.

Though the book is worth reading, the musical is what really brought out the story’s depth and stole our hearts. It’s subsequent films have helped solidify Les Mis as a masterpiece of artistic creation. Here are just a few timeless lines from the book, musical, and films.

Love

1. “Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is this way that love begins, and in this way only.” – Victor Hugo, book

2. “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing more.” – Victor Hugo, book

3. “The silver in my hand costs twice what I had earned in all those nineteen years, that lifetime of despair, and yet he trusted me.” – Jean Valjean, musical

4. “You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love is to love by it.” – Victor Hugo, book

5. “Life’s great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” – Victor Hugo, book

6. “Yet why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other, he gave me his trust, he called me brother.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

7. “She did not ask him; did not even think where and how he had managed to get into the garden. It seemed so natural to her that he should be there…When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, she laid her head on his shoulder, and asked him: ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Marius,’ he said. ‘And yours?’ ‘My name is Cosette.’” – Victor Hugo, book

8. “Love is the foolishness of men, and the wisdom of God.” – Victor Hugo, book

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9. “To die for lack of love is horrible. The asphyxia of the soul.” – Victor Hugo, book

10. “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again, and great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves, and even loved in spite of ourselves.” – Victor Hugo, book

11. “And remember, the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.” – Victor Hugo, book; Fantine, Jean Valjean & Eponine, musical & film

12. “Love almost replaces thought. Love is a burning forgetfulness of everything else.” – Victor Hugo, book

13. “If no one loved, the sun would go out.” – Victor Hugo, book

Suffering

14. “There is a point at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables.” – Victor Hugo, book

15. “People weighed down with troubles do not look back; they know only too well that misfortune stalks them.” – Victor Hugo, book

16. “Look down, look down, don’t look them in the eye. Look down, look down, you’re here until you die. Look down, look down, Sweet Jesus hear my prayer. Look down, look down, Sweet Jesus doesn’t care.” – Jean Valjean & prisoners, musical & film

17. “They gave me a number and they murdered Valjean.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

18. “At the end of the day you’re another day older, and that’s all you can say for the life of the poor.” – Poor extras, musical & film

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19. “There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.” – Victor Hugo, book

20. “I dreamed a dream in time gone by, when hope was high and life worth living. I dreamed that love would never die. I dreamed that God would be forgiving… But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder, as they tear your hope apart, as they turn your dream to shame! … But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather! I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. So different now than what it seemed. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” – Fantine, musical & film

21. “There is a castle on a cloud. I like to go there in my sleep. Aren’t any floors for me to sweep, not in my castle on a cloud. There is a room that’s full of toys. There are 100 boys and girls. Nobody shouts or talks too loud. Not on my castle on a cloud.” – Cosette (young), musical & film

22. “Now prisoner 24601, your time is up and your parole’s begun. You know what that means?” “Yes, it means I’m free.” “No. Follow to the letter your itinerary, this badge of shame you wear until you die. It warns that you’re a dangerous man.” “I stole a loaf of bread. My sister’s child was close to death, and we were starving.” – Javert & Jean Valjean, film

23. “Oh, my friends! My friends, don’t ask me what your sacrifice was for! Empty chairs at empty tables, where my friends shall sing no more.” – Marius, musical & film

24. “If there’s a God in heaven, He would let me die instead.” – Fantine, musical & film

25. “Despair is surrounded by fragile walls, which all open into vice or crime.” – Victor Hugo, book

Hope

26. “The day begins and now let’s see what this new world will do for me.” – Jean Valjean, book, musical & film

27. “Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.” – Victor Hugo, book

28. “‘The most beautiful of altars,’ he said, ‘is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God.'” – Victor Hugo quoting the Bishop, book

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29. “I am reaching, but I fall, and the night is closing in, as I stare into the void, into the whirlpool of my sin. I’ll escape now from the world, from the world of Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean is nothing now! Another story must begin!” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

30. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” – Victor Hugo, book; Cast, musical & film

31. “There is nothing like a dream to create future.” – Victor Hugo, book

32. “Red, the blood of angry men. Black, the dark of ages past. Red, a world about to dawn. Black, the night that ends at last!” – Enjolras, Marius & revolutionaries, musical & film

33. “Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!” – Enjolras, Marius & revolutionaries, musical & film

34. “Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!” – Revolutionaries, musical & film

35. “Citizens, in the future there shall be neither darkness nor thunderbolts, neither ferocious ignorance nor blood for blood…In the future no man will slay his fellow, the earth will be radiant, the human race will love. It will come, citizens, that day when all shall be concord, harmony, light, joy, and life.” – Enjolras, book

36. “In all his trials he felt encouraged and sometimes even upheld by a secret force within. The soul helps the body, and at certain moments raises it. It is the only bird that sustains its cage.” – Victor Hugo, book

Philosophy

37. “It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” – Victor Hugo, book

38. “Not being heard is no reason for silence.” – Victor Hugo, book

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39. “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!” – Jean Valjean, book, musical & film

40. “If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” – Victor Hugo, book

41. “My life he claims for God above. Can such things be? For I had come to hate the world, this world that always hated me.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

42. “The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal.” – Victor Hugo, book

43. “Before him he saw two roads, both equally straight; but he did see two; and that terrified him – he who had never in his life known anything but one straight line. And, bitter anguish, these two roads were contradictory.” – Victor Hugo, book

44. “Nobody knows like a woman how to say things that are both sweet and profound. Sweetness and depth, this is all of woman; this is Heaven.” – Victor Hugo, book

45. “The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God.” – Victor Hugo, book

46. “Let us study things that are no more. It is necessary to understand them, if only to avoid them.” – Victor Hugo, book

47. “If you wish to understand what Revolution is, call it Progress; and if you wish to understand what Progress is, call it Tomorrow.” – Victor Hugo, book

48. “To owe life to a malefactor . . . to be, in spite of himself, on a level with a fugitive from justice . . . to betray society in order to be true to his own conscience; that all these absurdities . . . should accumulate on himself – this is what prostrated him.” – Victor Hugo, book

49. “Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn’t every war fought between men, between brothers?” – Victor Hugo, book

50. “Great perils share this beauty that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.” – Victor Hugo, book

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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