Abstract–The Oresteia and Waterloo

Victor Hugo says that Les Misérables is “a hydra at the beginning; an angel at the end.”  Taking the theme of transformation from something deadly and devious into something kindly and benevolent, this paper investigates how two contemporaneous nineteenth-century authors of similar background, though they do not know each other, draw on the conventions of Greek tragedy in their novels.  W.M. Thackeray in Vanity Fair and Victor Hugo in Les Misérables not only draw on the conventions of Greek tragedy, they also present a re-interpretation of the Oresteia through their novels.