”Le dernier jour d’un condamné” (The Last Day of a Condemned Man), published in 1829, takes the form of a diary written by a condemned man during the last 24 hours before his sentence, which goes into an inner monologue. He expresses his thoughts and memories from before. He tells us about the visits he received, in particular that of the priest. One can read the hope of a death row inmate not to be executed. He tells us about the conditions of prison life, detailing his day, his last request before being executed and describes how he will be executed in the public square, serving as an example and a spectacle for the common people. He also thinks of some of the stories of men who were pardoned and did not end up being executed. He hopes with all his heart that a miracle will happen even though he does not believe in God. His crime will be unknown to the reader, he doesn’t tell us his name, nor the mistake that led him behind bars. Do you think that a tragic end would be the end of this diary or do you believe in the miracle of life?
Victor Hugo wanted to denounce the atrocious psychological and physical conditions that the prison environment puts prisoners through with poetry and romanticism in the literary sense. Moreover, he fought all his life against the death penalty.