Go to contents

The man who laughs

Posted December. 29, 2021 07:44,   

Updated December. 29, 2021 07:44


“Who is the father of privilege? It is coincidence. Who is the son of privilege? It is abuse.” These are quotes from Victor Hugo’s book titled “The man who laughs” and implies that privileges are only by coincidence and thus should not be abused. The story takes place, interestingly, in England. The noblemen gather at the House of Lords to vote on a bill that suggests increasing 100 thousand pounds in annual expenditure for the Queen’s husband. The inspection had been done and voting was the last step. Typically, it would have been passed unanimously, but not today. A jester-turned gentleman casts an opposition vote. The quote above is spoken by this gentleman as he states the reason for opposition. To vote to give more money for the rich while the poor do not even have money for their own funeral if they famish. “Do you know who pays for tax that you just voted for? The people dying from hunger!”

The man spoke for the socially marginalized because he had been through the life of poverty, agony, humiliation, and disgrace. He had been kidnapped at the age of two at the order of the king, who despised his father, and sold to a brutal group of vagabonds. They disfigured his face with surgery so that no one could recognize him and use him for panhandling or a clown. This was how his face appeared as laughing all the time, hence the man who laughs. Many years pass and he is restored with nobility, which was how he attended the meeting of the House of Lords. The gentry, however, who had taken privileges for granted, ridicule his face, and do not heed attention to the words from his heart. “There are people beneath you, no they are above you.”  

His forced laughter is a simile of the poor who must go on with life even though they have tears inside. Why did the French novel take place in England? Perhaps it is because things are no different wherever you are.