Les Miserables is set in 1815, the year when Jean Valjean gets released from nineteen years of imprisonment. With no money for food and shelter, he ends up under the care of Bishop of Digne. Overnight, Jean steals the silverware of the bishop but when he gets caught by the authorities, the bishop tells the police that the silverware was a gift from him. The police lets Jean go free and he brings the utensils with him. The kindness of the bishop prompts Jean to lead a new life using a different identity.
After eight years, Jean manages to be the owner of a factory and the mayor of Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais. The town’s newly assigned chief of police, Javert, doubts Jean’s real identity. One of Jean’s employees, Fantine, is discovered to have an illegitimate daughter named Cosette. An incident with the factory’s foreman forces Fantine to leave the factory and sell her hair and teeth just so she can continue providing for her daughter. She also ends up being a prostitute not long afterwards. One night, a customer abuses Fantine. She fights back but Javert thinks that it’s her fault and he arrests her. However, Jean saves her from imprisonment and takes care of her injuries.
When Javert sends a report of his speculation regarding Jean’s identity, a man who’s said to be Jean Valjean is caught. Because of this, Javert is forced to resign from his position as chief officer but Jean does not allow him. Jean also confesses his real identity. He goes back to Fantine and promises that he will take care of her daughter. It is not lone before Javert comes to take him. Jean pleads to let him fetch Cosette first but Javert won’t let him. Jean struggles and jumps into the river. In the Thenardiers’ residence, Jean finds Cosette. He pays Fantine’s debt to the family and takes Cosette with him. Jean and Cosette escape and make their way to Paris while Javert is set on capturing Jean again no matter how long will take.
Nine years later, a group of revolutionary students which include Marius Pontmercy, Enjolars, Gavroche, Grantaire, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, Joly, and Jean Prouvaire make plan of rebelling against the French government. One of Marius’s friends is Eponine, the daughter of Thenardiers.
When Marius sees Cosette and Jean distributing help to the poor, he immediately falls for her. The Thenardiers also spot Jean and plan on extorting more money from him. An argument between Jean and the family catches the attention of Javert. Jean and Cosette leave right away while Marius asks for Eponine’s help in finding where Cosette and her father live.
Eponine leads Marius to Cosette’s house. The two talk and discover their love for each other. Before Marius can leave, the Thernadiers and their cohorts arrive to catch Jean. Eponine warns Jean and Cosette. Jean then decides that they must leave right away. Cosette begs her father to recant his decision but the refuses. Before they leave, Cosette leaves a letter for Marius. Eponine finds it and keeps it for herself. When Marius fails to find Cosette again, he decides to join the French revolution.
During the funeral procession of the revolution’s most revered government official, the revolutionary students make a protest and start barricading the streets. A conflict between a revolutionary and a French soldier injures Eponine badly. Before she dies, she hands over Cosette’s letter to Marius.
Marius sends a letter to Cosette which Jean reads first. He learns how Marius and Cosette very much love each other and it makes him change his plans of escaping with Cosette. He goes to the barricade to save Marius and there he meets Javert again who was previously captured by the revolutionaries. When they are left alone Jean frees Javert.
As the students continue fighting the government, Marius is saved by Jean before he gets killed just like his comrades. Jean carries Marius’s unconscious body through the sewers but Javert is already waiting for them on the surface. Jean pleads to him to bring Marius to a doctor but Javert warns him that he will kill him instead if he refuses to surrender. Jean refuses to heed his warnings and he proceeds on carrying Marius to safety. At that moment, Javert becomes confused with his duties and his sympathy for Jean. His confusion causes him to jump into the river of Seine.
As Marius recovers from his wounds, Jean confesses to him his past and tells him that he’s leaving Cosette in his hands. Unable to change his mind, Marius promises to Jean that he will take good care of Cosette and he will keep his secret safe.
When the Thenardiers try to crash Marius and Cosette’s wedding, Marius discover that they have the ring that he lost in the sewers. Marius then realizes that it was Jean who saved his life before. The couple search for Jean and they find him very ill in a convent. Before he dies, Jean hands a letter of confession to Cosette.