Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest
This quote reminds me of the entire bishop scene from the musical, Les Mis. This is the moment in the show where the spirituality truly starts to exist. Without this scene, you really don’t have Les Mis.
Jean Valjean, the protagonist, has just been released from jail. He was sentenced for five years just for stealing a loaf of bread to save his sister’s dying son, but in all sentenced for nineteen years due to multiple escapes. His time spent in hard labor has hardened this good-hearted man into a hardened, harsh, and angry man. Jean Valjean was to realize after being released that society looks down upon him because he is an ex-convict. He kept on trying to find a job, a place to stay, and food to eat, but no one welcomed him. This made Valjean feel inferior and made him hate society even more.
But in comes the bishop. He opened Valjean to his house with open arms and gave him food and a place to stay for the night. Despite the bishop’s kindness, Valjean woke up in the middle of the night and stole the bishop’s silver out of desperation. But he was caught by police and taken back to the bishop’s house. The bishop lied to the police and said that the silver was in fact a gift. The bishop eventually told Valjean to use all of the silver to become a better man. The bishop even gave him the candlesticks, which represent light and hope throughout the entire show. The bishop even bought Valjean’s soul for God. This entire scene was when Valjean learned the ways of the Lord. He vowed to change his life and become a better person. By the end of Les Mis, we see Jean Valjean as a compassionate and saintlike-man. He helped save many lives and he helped save Fantine, Cosette, and Marius.
The story of Fantine is quite a heartbreaking one. She worked at Valjean’s factory and was fired for having an illegitimate child by the foreman. She blames this all on Valjean, but he was unaware of what went on. She had to sell her locket and hair and become a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter.
One day, she was harassed by an abusive customer and out of defense she attacked the customer and injured him. Valjean saved her life by pleading with Javert to take her to the hospital especially because Javert was going to send her to jail. Valjean was filled with guilt that Fantine was fired from his factory and wanted to make up for it. He saved Fantine during this interaction and was able to get her to the hospital even though it was too late. But he promised her on her deathbed that he would raise Cosette as his own.
He was able to save Cosette from a life of terrible abuse by the Thenardiers. She was a very broken, unloved child at the age of eight. Cosette taught Valjean to love and she ended up having a better life because she was rescued. As a teenager she fell in love with Marius, and when Valjean learned Marius was one of the students on the barricades, he went to the barricades in order to protect him. On the barricades, he prayed to God to allow this young gentlemen to live and not die, even though Valjean was the one to take Marius home.
Without the bishop’s action, none of this would have happened along with other actions. The story would not have been so inspiring if the bishop did not teach Valjean the ways the Lord. Les Mis is truly a story of compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, love, and redemption. One of the things that makes Valjean one of the most memorable literary characters is Valjean’s journey from an angered, harsh, and hateful man into a better man.That is the overall message of the story- “To love another person is to see the face of God”