Why does no member of the jury answer Claude’s question? How does Hugo himself answer this question later? Do you agree with Hugo’s position?
It is possible that the jury members were not willing to answer Claude’s question for every person in the court did know about his life. They had learnt of the events that had led him to prison and of the reasons that he had been forced to commit murder. Claude had done a proper job of arguing his defense and he had shown that he had reason for murdering the inspector. In his argument, he had pointed out the injustices he had received under the inspector. The inspector had been an unfair man and he had not considered Claude when he had made his decision. Hugo responds to the question by pointing out the problems that the people have to endure. The people are impoverished and they live under an unjust system. They end up engaging in crime because they are suffering.
The people are hungry, famished, and frozen (Hugo 64). Like Claude, they do not have money to buy food and they cannot afford to heat their houses during winter. This is probably because they cannot find work. They then result to stealing so that they can survive and such crimes land them in jail. The government has not done much to improve people’s welfare. It is more concerned with maintaining prisons and continuing executions, than it is with providing education for the citizenry. Hugo points out the government can spend more on education and increase the opportunities that people have. He adds that other countries in Europe have overtaken France as far as education is concerned.
The injustices that people continue to endure while in prison worsen the situation. The jury cannot answer the question because they are part of that system. They know that they are to blame for the occurrence of some of the social ills. Doing so would be stating and reaffirming that Claude did have a reason for the wrongs he committed. They would be putting the blame on themselves and the government for not helping to improve the situation. Other than the people in the legal system, no one else seems to blame Claude. The sisters treat him with compassion and his fellow prisoners admire and try to protect him. Every other person realizes and understands the circumstances that drive Claude to his position.
I do agree with Hugo’s position. Most of the people who commit crime do so because they lack something. Some of them steal because they do not have any work and they do not have anyone to help them. I also agree that the issue of injustice may cause people to seek revenge and to take matters into their own hands. Having a functioning law system is important, as it will guarantee that justice is done and the law is followed. Those who are in authority will not use their power for selfish gains. I also agree that education is important. A government that invests in the education is bound to benefit more. Doing so will increase the opportunities that people have in life. They will be able to get employment and this will reduce the number of people who engage in crime. They will acquire knowledge that will enable them to create jobs.
Hugo points out that the leaders should seek to find out the cause of a sickness instead of treating the symptoms. The government’s decision to imprison and execute people is a way of treating the symptoms. The leaders are not concerned with finding out why the people act the way they do and why they choose to commit crime. Such incidents are common in the present day. In some cases, governments do not consider investing in education and other sectors that will improve people’s lives. Instead, it is looking for a way to end the social ills. However, I think that Claude’s actions were not justified.
Claude cited the injustices he had suffered under Monsieur D. he told the court how the man had wounded, humiliated, insulted, and taunted him for four years (55). This caused him to have much anger and resentment. It is clear that the inspector did not have any reason for hating Claude, as he was a model prisoner who did his work well and was a role model for the other prisoners. Instead of appreciating the work that he did and the unity he brought in the prison, the inspector felt jealous (Hugo 28). However, Claude’s decision to kill the inspector was not justified. He demonstrated the same resentment that the inspector had shown towards him. He felt the same anger because of what the inspector had done. He was not pleased with the inspector’s decision to take away the only friend he had in prison. This did not give him a reason to take away the inspector’s life. Claude’s breaking point came when the inspector decided to take away his companion leaving him without a close friend. Hugo noted the importance of having a social life. Claude had served most of his sentence and he only had a short term remaining before his release. However, he did not consider this when he made the decision to murder monsieur D. he had made up his mind to do what he did. Therefore although Hugo does offer a compelling argument in response to Claude’s questions, I do believe that Claude
Hugo, Victor. Claude Gueux: The Last Day of a Condemned Man. New York: Carleton, 1869. Print
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