excerpt from Les Miserables

by Victor Hugo

NOTE: This excerpt from the novel reflects much the same sentiment that is in the excerpt from the musical that I have elsewhere on this website, which you can examine by clicking here

When the gun is loaded, and the match is ready, nothing is simpler. A glance is a spark...

The glances of women are like certain seemingly peaceful but really formidable machines. Every day you pass them in peace, with impunity, and without suspicion of danger. There comes a moment when you forget even that they are there. You come and go, you muse, and talk, and laugh. Suddenly, you feel caught up! It is all over. The wheels have you, the glance has captured you. It has caught you, no matter how or where, by some wandering of your thought, through a momentary distraction. You are lost. You will be drawn in entirely. A train of mysterious forces has gained possession of you. You struggle in vain. No human succor is possible. You will be drawn down from wheel to wheel, from anguish to anguish, from torture to torture. you, your mind, your fortune, your future, your soul; and you will not leave the awesome machine, until, depending on whether you are in the power of a malevolent creature, or a noble heart, you are disfigured by shame or transfigured by love.