One of the best parts about musicals is romance itself. It translates well to song and is such a beautiful emotion. One fascinating type of love comes from a love triangle itself. There are three love triangles that easily come to mind when I think of a love triangle. They are ones from Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, and Wicked. The plot of Phantom is basically a love triangle between Christine, Raoul, and Phantom. Than there is the love triangle in Les Mis, which happens between revolutionary Marius, brave Eponine, and innocent Cosette. But my favorite love triangle is in Wicked, which is between Elphaba, Glinda and Fiyero. The rest of this post will focus on these three love triangles more in detail.
First up is the love triangle in Phantom. This is the hardest love triangle to explain. I hardly have gotten to know this love triangle. I am one of those people who actually appreciate Raoul and Christine together. They are my favorite characters in this musical. Many people hate Raoul because he falls in love and Christine chooses him. That makes no sense at all because Raoul is such a wonderful guy. Christine and Raoul were childhood sweethearts. I love Raoul and Christine together and have nothing wrong with Phantom getting stuck with unrequited love. Phantom’s story basically revolves around this unrequited love. He seems to be a little too obsessed with Christine, which leads him to do destructive behaviors. I honestly have no idea how to describe this love triangle. Phantom of the Opera would lose a lot of its charm if Christine choose the Phantom.
The next love triangle I am going to talk about is the one in Les Mis, which is between Eponine, Marius, and Cosette. Once again, I appreciate Marius with Cosette even though I love Eponine more than both of those characters. One of the best things about Les Mis is the switch between Eponine and Cosette, which is why it makes sense that Eponine gets the unrequited love and that Cosette ends up with Marius.
When Cosette and Eponine were children, Cosette was horribly abused by Eponine’s parents and they treated her like a servant. Cosette was quite unloved and broken on the inside, but was full of so much hope. Eponine’s parents, especially Madame Thenardier, seemed to love Eponine and they would spoil her. Well things take a turn when Valjean arrives to take Cosette away. While Cosette was rescued, Eponine was stuck with the Thenardiers her whole life.
After Cosette was taken away and ended up getting a better life, Eponine got the same treatment that Cosette got. She became so unloved, abused, lonely and neglected. She was taught the skills of the criminal world and how to steal and to lie. Her parents did not care for her. Once the two girls got older, Cosette’s life improved a lot while Eponine’s life became even worse. Both girls did fall in love with Marius, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. Marius appears to treat Eponine unfairly, but he never once did. All Eponine has in her life in Marius and that’s it and is why her unrequited love is so heartbreaking and why she loves Marius as much as she does.
Eponine does anything for Marius. She locates Cosette for him and protects him when her father and his gang tries to rob Valjean’s house. All of her actions are done out of love for Marius and that might seem like a weakness, but in reality it never was. Marius was the reason why she rose above her upbringing. Marius is what kept her going even though it led to tragic consequences. She does decide to join Marius at the barricade and Marius noticing that she is there asks her to deliver a letter to Cosette. He was only trying to protect her from the uprising (Gavroche delvers the letter in the movie).
Eponine finally was able to accept the fact that Marius will never be hers, but she will stick by his side no matter what. Well, Eponine does return to the barricades and while climbing over she gets shot and her wound ends up being fatal (in the movie, Marius was about to get shot and Eponine sacrificed her life to save Marius). Marius does decide to stay with Eponine until she dies, but she is happy being in the arms of the man she loves. Eponine’s fate is perfect just the way it is. This leaves Marius devastated and he truly knew just how dark Eponine’s life was. Literally right after she died, he said to the students “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”.
Valjean, learning through the letter that Eponine gave him, he realized that his adopted daughter loves Marius. Valjean heads over to the barricade to make sure Marius comes out alive. He prays to God to save him and Valjean has to end up carrying Marius after he fell unconscious. Valjean takes Marius through the sewers. Marius is the only survivor of the uprising and he has to struggle with survivor’s guilt. Cosette helps him recover from his wounds. Marius and Cosette get married, but they still have lots going on. Marius lost both Eponine and all of his friends at the barricade and Cosette had a horrible childhood. In the book, Marius has a lot going on especially with his home life. On the night of Cosette’s wedding, Marius and Cosette head over to see Valjean, but discover that he is dying. Cosette had to watch her adopted father die and all Marius and Cosette have left is each other.
This love triangle as a matter of fact adds a wonderful texture to Les Mis. The switch between Eponine and Cosette fascinates me. Marius did love both Eponine and Cosette, but in different ways. Marius loved Eponine as a friend and did care about her and he loved Cosette in a romantic way. One of the most overarching themes in Les Mis is love itself: not just romance. It has love for the law, love for a parent, love for a child, love for a country, romance: both requited and unrequited, but ultimately love for God. So it is completely fitting that there is a love triangle in Les Mis. The love triangle is not silly one bit. Marius is such a sweet, compassionate, and caring guy and I don’t think he ever was a jerk to Eponine.
Last but not least there is the love triangle in Wicked. The love triangle in Wicked is my favorite love triangle and has been the one that has been part of my life the longest. It is between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. The romance is quite important in Wicked, but not as important as the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. When Fiyero first arrives at Shiz, Elphaba does find Fiyero bit too annoying and a bit kind of rude. Fiyero invites everyone to a school dance and this is when Glinda and Fiyero date for the first time. There was this day in class when Doctor Dillamond was taken away and a new teacher comes in and Elphaba spots this scared lion cub trapped in a cage. Out of anger, she cast a spell on the class and for some odd reason it didn’t affect Fiyero. Both Fiyero and Elphaba run out in an open field to free the lion.
Through the conversation they have, Elphaba realizes that she actually loves Fiyero. “I’m Not That Girl” is a heartbreaking unrequited love song, but not fully heartbreaking in the fact that Elphaba just discovered she loves Fiyero. There was a time when I didn’t view “I’m Not That Girl” as a heartbreaking song because at the time, I didn’t understand what it meant for a musical song to be heartbreaking. But I did know the song was sad and through the help of “On My Own” and memorizing the lyrics, I realized that the song was heartbreaking, which actually strengthened and deepended the love triangle, which gave the musical a bigger sense of vulnerability.
The last time I saw Wicked, I began to wonder about Fiyero. The way he was interacting with Elphaba before “I’m Not That Girl” and afterwards when we learn he couldn’t stop thinking of the scene with the lion cub. I started to wonder if Fiyero actually had a crush on Elphaba without even realizing it.
Out of a major plot twist, Fiyero actually breaks up with Glinda and realized that he loves Elphaba. He hates the fact that Glinda is staying with the citizens of OZ because they are saying disrespectful things about her best friend. When Glinda realizes that Elphaba and Fiyero have started a relationship, she feels betrayed by both of them. The shift in unrequited love in Wicked is why my favorite love triangle is in that musical.
So overall, love triangles provide incredible textures and are not pointless. They don’t take away from the plot. I think they actually add to a musical plot. I think the love triangles are perfect just the way they are. Christine and Raoul and Cosette and Marius are wonderful couples. What did Raoul and Marius even do wrong? What is so wrong with Phantom and Eponine having unrequited love in the first place?
Eponine is such a wonderful character and I feel like she would lose a lot of her charm and vulnerability if the unrequited love wasn’t there. If Marius was not in love with Cosette, Marius would never have been rescued from the barricade. Les Mis was crafted wonderfully and is perfect just the way it is. In the case of Phantom, Raoul is a much better fit for Chrsitne because he doesn’t seek revenge like the Phantom does. As for Wicked, the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda.