Parallels in Musicals

Yesterday, I talked about why musicals rely on each other. This post is kind of similar, but this post I am going to be talking about parallels that you can find in musicals.

One parallel is “Memory” and “I Dreamed A Dream”. These two songs are from Les Mis and Cats. “Memory” is sung by Grizabella in Cats and “I Dreamed A Dream” is sung by Fantine in Les Mis. Both songs are heartbreaking songs and reflect on the past. Both Grizabella and Fantine do not have very good lives at all so in both of these songs, they think about the past and realize just how worse their lives have gotten. In my opinion, “I Dreamed A Dream” is a stronger song and part of that is due to the fact that I have a stronger emotional connection to Les Mis

Without “I Dreamed A Dream”, I never would have realized “Memory” is a heartbreaking song. I did see Cats when I was in elementary school, but have no recollection of seeing. However, I do remember I always loved the song “Memory”.

Another parallel is between “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl”, two unrequited love songs from Les Mis and Wicked. They are both heartbreaking songs and without “On My Own”, I never would have realized “I’m Not That Girl” is heartbreaking, but at least I knew the song was sad.”On My Own” is about Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius and “I’m Not That Girl” is about Elphaba’s unrequited love for Fiyero.

In my personal opinion, “On My Own” from Les Mis is stronger and more heartbreaking than “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. The thing with Elphaba is that literally just moments before she sings “I’m Not That Girl”, she realizes that she loves Fiyero and as a result, the song does not have room to be fully heartbreaking and her story doesn’t revolve around unrequited love, but instead her friendship with Glinda. In my opinion, this song goes beyond the unrequited love. One of her lines is “I wasn’t born for the rose or pearl” and through those lines, you realize that Elphaba doesn’t think that she is good enough for Fiyero because she is green  and outside of that line, she realizes that her best friend, Glinda, also loves Fiyero and that line is part of why “I’m Not That Girl” is an insightful song. In this song, you need to be quite vulnerable, but at the same time you need to keep some innocence alive due to who Elphaba is at this point in the story.

“On My Own” is stronger and more powerful than “I’m Not That Girl” and as a result you feel even more heartbroken. Unlike Elphaba’s story, Eponine’s story revolves around her unrequited love for Marius. There is a big reason why she loves him so much. Outside of Marius, Eponine’s life is extremely tragic and heartbreaking. Her parents are the Thenardiers, who don’t even love her and horribly abuse her. She was raised to be a criminal and all she saw was darkness growing up. She was completely left to fend for herself on the streets. So in this burst of light, Marius entered her life and for the first time someone treated her with kindness. Because Marius is literally all she has in life, it explains why she loves him so much. She literally will do anything for the one she loves.

In “On My Own”, Eponine accepts the fact that Marius will never be hers, but she still decides to stick by his side no matter what. In my opinion, this song goes beyond the unrequited love. One of Eponine’s lines is “without a home, without a friend, without a face to say hello to” and you do realize just how empty her life is and another line is “a world full of happiness that I never known” and this shows just how unhappy she is and how her life has gotten even worse over the years. Those two lines shows just how insightful the song is.

Besides the “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl” parallel and the “Memory” and “I Dreamed a Dream”, there are other parallels in the world of musicals. Musicals vary so much in storyline, character, melodies, and emotion. It is crazy how one musical song can help you understand another musical song.

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Author: mphadventuregirl

I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog deals with spirituality and musicals. I am finding that by writing about these, I am realizing I know more about each of them then I think I do. I hope you find my blog inspiring!

24 thoughts on “Parallels in Musicals”

  1. Ah, this is super interesting, I’ve not really thought about it this way. I’ve seen a couple similarities, but not laid out parallel like this! 🙂

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      1. They’re really great ones, that’s for sure! I really liked how you described the parallels here–it was really effective and easy to follow! I think that “On My Own” has greatly aided in my understanding of “I’m Not That Girl”!

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      2. I love how there are so many parallels between Elphie and Éponine in general but I also love how different they are! I think that, in general, they both have big dreams but the result of those dreams is different. And they both had bad family lives as well

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      3. Feeling heartbroken in “I’m Not That Girl” can be a bit odd in a way because of the knowledge that Elphaba is going to eventually get Fiyero, but I still need to treat it like I don’t know its going to happen.

        I sometimes wonder about something. If Elphaba is my favorite musical characters and because some of her experiences line up with some of Eponine’s, I wonder if thats part of why Eponine is one of my favorite musical characters

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      4. That’s an interesting thought! There might be some truth behind that! I know that in general, there is a ”type“ of character that I generally sympathize with over others so it’s probably not a very far-fetched idea!

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      5. Yeah, that’s one of the super high points for Les Miz in general, I think! There’s just a certain something about–I’m tempted to say all–the characters in Les Miz that makes you feel for them in some way!

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      6. Some of these characters took me longer to feel for than others. It took me exactly three years after I saw the movie for the first time to feel something for Javert because I feel like I finally saw Javert in the West End production.

        I love how in musicals emotions tend to grow over time and your love for the characters and storyline. Your emotions tend to become a part of the musical’s emotions themselves

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      7. Yeah, I agree. I think that for a while after my first encounter with Les Miz, I didn’t fully grasp Javert’s emotions during his suicide scene. To me back then, it seemed like a really weird reason for someone to want to commit suicide–minor, almost. But then, somewhere along the line I (finally) understood that it was really just a part of his character and that the whole story really finds its basis in Javert not being able to deal with this proof against his own morality and code

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      8. The first round, I didn’t fully remember the characters or even the songs or much of the plot.

        The second round was when I got more out of it. The first round I did feel for the students in a way due to how I remembered “Do You Hear the People Sing” and felt moved by “I Dreamed a Dream” I believe. The second round was when I started to fall in love with Eponine. As my journey continued, I began to feel for more and more characters

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      9. First time ’round, I think that the song that left the biggest impression on me was probably Valjean’s Soliloquy / “What Have I Done”. I don’t know… something about that scene really struck a chord with me. And then, of course, the students left an impression on me. But it wasn’t until the second or third time through that I really stopped to contemplate in more depth characters like Éponine and Javert for whatever reason

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      10. The 2nd time, I ended up falling in love with Eponine because of how she was portrayed. Even Anne Hathaway as Fantine left an impression on me. I started to feel for the Thenardiers after reading the book. To me it is the hardest to feel for Javert and the Thenardiers

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      11. I think that how Javert is portrayed can really change the way I view him. Whenever I listen to the 2010 CD, I just can’t help but hurt emotionally for Javert during the suicide scene. There’s just something about the way Earl Carpenter paces it and how it is so easy to hear his ragged, tormented breathing. And the way he says “I am reaching”, then pauses in a way that simply builds up tension and aching, then sings “But I fall” gets me every time.

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      12. So far my favorite Javert is Jeremy Secomb from the West End and during the suicide song, I felt something for him before he started singing. I feel like through his protrayl I felt like I was finally seeing Javert on that stage

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      13. That sounds awesome! Earl Carpenter’s been a favorite Javert of mine for a little over a year now and just the other day, I thought it was funny because I was listening to my 2010 Les Miz CD while doing my homework and I could hear my dad whistle and say to himself “Man, that was intense.” after the suicide scene. I think that Javert is one of the hardest characters to portray in Les Miz.

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