The Last Days of a Condemned Man

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"The Last Days of a Condemned Man" (In French: Le dernier jour d'un condamné) is a short story by Victor Hugo, published in 1829. It is written in defense for the abolition of the death penalty. In 1832, he wrote a preface to the story that details how he came up with the story and his thoughts on the death penalty.


The story is told through a series of forty-six papers written during the last few days of a condemned man's life. It tells the story of a young man condemned to death, presumably for murder. While awaiting his death, he sees galley slaves being chained; sees his three-year-old daughter Mary for the last time, who has no memory of him; meets a man who seems to be the prototype of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables; and writes about his thoughts of his upcoming death. The story ends before he is hanged.

The story, it seems, tries to get us to go against the death penalty through emotional means, and not through intellectual means.