To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God
-Finale, Les Misérables
The above quote comes from the musical sensation, Les Mis. This line is from the finale and truly represents Les Mis as a whole. Les Mis explores many different kinds of love. Love is one of the biggest themes in the show and that theme is one of the biggest reasons why the show is so inspirational despite all the heartbreak and misery.
Major Spoiler Alert:
One of the first kinds of love the musical shows is love for a child. This happens through the tragic Fantine. She is a mother who lives a very tragic and heartbreaking life. You first see her in 1823 as a worker in Jean Valjean’s factory. She has an illegitimate child, Cosette, and her child is currently living with the Thenardiers. Cosette’s father abandoned Fantine and her little girl, which led Fantine with no choice but to leave Cosette with someone else in order to get a job because having an illegitimate child at that time is not okay.
But what Fantine doesn’t know is that the Thenardiers are terribly abusing the little girl. She receives a letter from saying that Cosette is deathly ill and needs medicine as soon as possible. But its a trap and Fantine doesn’t know that the letter is a big lie. One of the factory girls finds this letter and steals it from Fantine and reads it out loud. This causes a big fight in the factory and the foreman arrives to try to break it up. Valjean asked the foreman to solve this fight. Unfortunately for Fantine, she gets fired and this leads her into a downward spiral. Her dreams are completely shattered and still continues to care for Cosette.
Fantine ends up selling her locket and hair and later become a prostitute as a desperate means to pay for Cosette. Soon after she becomes a prostitute, she gets into a fight with an abusive customer and she attacks the man to defend herself. But Javert demands that she is sent to jail for six months, but Valjean intervenes and demands that she is to be taken to the hospital instead. While Fantine was dying in the hospital, Valjean promises to raise Cosette as his own and this gives Fantine some peace and comfort because she knows that Cosette will be in good hands.
Another form of love of a child is through Valjean and Cosette. Valjean has to care for Cosette as he promised Fantine. Valjean learns that Cosette was terribly abused and that she is very broken. Cosette is unloved and neglected at the time. At the time Valjean picked up Cosette, she was only eight. Cosette was the first person he ever loved after being released from prison.They are both broken on the inside due to the trauma both have already faced. Cosette is so important to Valjean and that explains why it is so hard to let her go especially as she gets older.
The Thenardiers are an expectation to love for child. It appears as if the Thenardiers loved their daughter, Eponine, when Valjean came for Cosette. Eponine is the same age as Cosette.But as the two girls got older, their situations reversed. Cosette grew up with Valjean and her life improved and she became the loved child. But Eponine’s life got even worse and her family fell into extreme poverty and she became the unloved and neglected child. This perfectly shows how Eponine’s parents are unloving and that they raised Eponine to be a criminal.
Coincidentally both girls (Eponine and Cosette) fell in love with the same man, Marius. This created an amazing texture to the show. Marius and Cosette love each other, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. He doesn’t even realize that Eponine loves him and that is mainly due to fact that Eponine has not even told him that she loves him. Even though Eponine loves him unrequitedly, she still does anything for Marius even if that means he wouldn’t do the same for her. So the love triangle is another aspect of love found in this musical. Some people find this love triangle silly, but is not due to Les Mis exploring different sides of love.
Another form of love in Les Mis is the love for a country. This is shown through Enjolras, Marius, Gavroche, and the students. They are part of an underground movement and they start the uprising due to the unstable government and General Lamarque who is dying of cholera is the only one left in the government who feels anything for the poor. The most passionate of all the rebels is Enjolras. These students have a love for each other and love for France. Once Lamarque dies, they know it is time to start the rebellion the next day.
Last but not least, there is a love for God found throughout the musical. You see this initially through the mercy of the bishop. When Valjean was released from prison, everyone would not give him a place to sleep, a job, or even something to eat just because he was an ex-convict. The bishop decided to let him stay for the night and provided a meal. But even after Valjean steals the silver, the bishop still forgave Valjean. Valjean lived by the bishop’s example during the rest of the show. He gives to the poor and helped Cosette, Fantine, and Marius. He confessed to court that he is Valjean when a man was innocently accused of being Valjean. He even helped save the seriously wounded Marius from the barricades. All of this lead to Valjean’s strong redemption at the end of the musical.
What other kinds of love do you find in Les Mis?