Pleasures and Pastimes of the Bourgeoisie


Clothing in Les Miserables
~ Pre -revolution

~Fashion in Les Mis

~Rise in Popularity
~Economic and Social Symbolism
~Representation in Les Mis

Gardens ~17th Century ~18th Century ~19th Century ~Versailles

Gambling ~Pre-Revolutionary ~Cafés & Cercles

Opéra & Theatre
~The Revolution
~Social Status
~Les Misérables

Etiquette ~Promenade ~Dances ~Dinner ~Casinos and Salons

Bibliography ~Fashion ~Etiquette ~Restaurants ~Opéra ~Picture Bibliography


In Victor Hugo's novel Les Miserables, he devotes paragraphs to discriptions of dress. He leaves no social class out in his commentaries: the theives, the gamin, the clergy, the bourgeoisie, every group's dress is described. What real purpose of Hugo's detail orienteted descriptions can only be supposed. I propse that Hugo used description for two reasons. First, Hugo wished to bring the reader's attention to every aspect of the character and second, dress descriptions mirrored societies sterotypes which Hugo reflected in his work.

(click on picture for source)

Les Mis Quotation
"And then she was no longer a boarding-school miss, with her plush bonnet, merino dress, thick shoes, and red hands; taste had come to her with beauty, and she was well dressed, with a species of simple, rich, and uneffected elegance. She wore a black brocade dress, a cloak of the same material, and a white crape bonnet; her white gloves displayed the elegance of her hand which was playing with the ivory handle of a parasol, and her satin boot revealed the smallness of her foot." (Hugo Marius, Book 6, p 139) Sitting demurly, Cossett ememplifies a lady of refinment. Her clothes acentuate that image. White gloves of purity and the black dress of sobriety.

(click on picture for source)

Les Mis Quotation
"Mr Gillenormand's coat was not in the style of Louis XV or even Louis XVI, but it was in the style of the Incroyables of the Cirectory. His coat was of light cloth with large flaps, with a long swallow-tail and large steel buttons. Add to these knee-breeches and buckle-shoes. Such was M. Luke Esprit Gillenormand, who had not lost his hair, which was rather gray than white, and always wore it in dog's-ears. Altogether he was venerable. He was a man of the eighteenth century, frivolous and grand." In this picture the double nature of the bouregoisie (outward splendor, inner stinginess) is represented. The room is quite large and the mantle ornate. The picture frame is also luxurious but the floors are bare and the chairs simple. Mr Gillenormand is sitting straight with exspenive dress clothes on but he has pulled his chair close to the small fire which hints at stingyness and lack of refinment