How To Tell If You Are In A Victor Hugo Novel -The Toast

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Previously in this series.

You are a child who has been kidnapped, abandoned, or killed in a horrifying and traumatic way, but you still retain the inherent goodness and innocence of the human soul, and are a symbol of hope to all those around you.

You are a horribly disfigured man with a vendetta against society and, for no easily discernible reason, a pet arctic carnivore with a Meaningful Name.

You are a woman and at the age of fifteen, the consciousness of your beauty bursts upon you in a sudden instant, like the advent of the sun, and you become the most fashionable woman in Paris.

You have a broad forehead, broad as the expanse of sky over the horizon, which is a sign of profound thoughtfulness in men, and which in no way reflects the physiognomy of the author.

You are a man, and complicated historical forces have forced you into a marginalized life, possibly one of inadvertent crime, for which you have been imprisoned for a million years.

You have literally run off with a goat.

You frequently make puns, but they are never funny. They are multilingual, serious, and full of multiple levels of meaning, and include at least two pieces of poignant social commentary.

You are a woman and a young man declares his interest in you by staring at you in a public place. You find this charming.

You are a mother and, in a moment of despair, exclaim that you would die for your child. Society takes you up on the offer.

You are in sympathy with but two things in the world. One of them is a building.

You come across a stranger in a darkened alley by a cathedral—but is it a stranger? No! For there are but twelve people in all of France, and you have long and complicated histories with all of them.

You are a woman, and your eventual degradation will result in a string of hauntingly poetic metaphors, and then death.

The world is literally dark with the weight of your existential crisis.

You are rich, and you are terrible.

You are poor, and you die.

You visit a courtroom and it is hilarious despite the melancholic gravity that suffuses the rest of your life.

You have a lot of profound and complicated thoughts about justice and civil unrest, and express them in the form of digressions on Breton peasant culture, the history of printing, and the Battle of Waterloo.

Love is, to you, a somber and starry transfiguration mingled with torture, an ecstasy in agony, the purification of the heart through the refiner’s fire. Though God himself has rendered transparent your love’s soul to your eyes, you don’t actually know her name.

You have made out with a handkerchief belonging to an old man.

You think nothing of contracting inheritable life debts with villains.

Your friends are fighting for liberty and likely to die. You join them not out of ideological impulses, but an excess of Romantic melancholy that drives you to seek your own destruction in the face of personal setbacks. Everyone is cool with this.

A chance meeting with a noble stranger has destabilized your conception of the world. As the sun sets or midnight chimes, definitely one or the other, a moment of frightful calm descends upon you and you see that you cannot go on as you have before. This hour demands of you the ultimate sacrifice.

The noblest of your antagonists has committed suicide. It was symbolic.

You die. It was also symbolic.

All that is left is the symbolism.

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