Jean Valjean is released from prison after serving 20 years of hard labor. Left without a sense of morality, he soon steals silverware from a bishop's house. He is caught; yet, when he is returned by the police, the bishop states the silver was a gift. His only request is that Valjean learn to do good for others. Jumping to 1822, Valjean is the humble and popular major of Vigau. He has an encounter with former inspector Javert who becomes suspicious of Valjean's identity. Javert eventually comes to recognize him and demand that Valjean be denouced. However, he lacks sufficient proof. All the while, Valjean develops a relationship with Fantine, a woman dismissed from her factory job for having a child out of wedlock. Malnourished, she dies after being abused by Javert and makes Valjean promise to raise her child, Cosette, as his own. The events of the July 1832 revolution affect them both as Cosette has fallen in love with a militant student Marius and Valjean faces Javert for the last
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