Section 2 - Cosette
Book Seven - A Parenthesis
The author uses this section to muse upon the meaning of convents. He notes that while they exist in all societies in one form or another, and have sublime aspirations, they are nevertheless detestable in the light of Progress and history. He cites the medieval practices of suffering that accompanied the monastic life and asserts that though these institutions had their role in furthering civilization their usefulness has long since passed. He also discusses the nature of prayer, since that it the chief-object of most convents. He concludes that faith is absolutely necessary to mankind though it must not come at the expense of the mind and abuse of the body.
Hugo reveals his disdain of extreme religious institutions in present-day society and feels that they have lost their usefulness.