What is the Meaning of a Strong Sprit?

What exactly is a strong spirit?

A strong spirit is a gift, but a gift that is developed and created over time.

A strong spirit provides light and warmth to those around them.

A strong spirit loves to develop a relationship with God and knows it can be developed in different ways like through singing Christian songs, prayer, reading the Bible, or by being out in nature.

A strong spirit stays true to themselves no matter what.

A strong spirit understands that life isn’t easy because they might have struggled with some of life’s hardships themselves.

A strong knows how to endure life’s challenges, but sometimes has a hard time in life.

A strong spirit can be optimistic and knows how to pick themselves back up when dark times hit and knows how to get through them.

I am a strong spirit myself and I have known that fact since high school. I have noticed it while singing to contemporary Christian music at a high school youth conference called Winterlight. I have been called to work in Nonprofit. Every Friday, my dad and I have volunteered at Loaves and Fishes, a food pantry at my church, and dad can tell I was meant to work in Nonprofit and can tell that I can really touch them. At school, someone once told me that I bring light to the campus. It is very hard to describe why I know that I have a strong spirit and I think it is a gift. Usually if you have a strong spirit, it is usually is a gift that is created.

Connection Between Duke Chapel and Broadway Pops Symphony

On Sunday, I had quite a busy day. First, I went to a beautiful church service at Duke Chapel and later went to a Broadway themed outdoor symphony. But what exactly is the connection between the two?

The Duke Chapel service directly reminded me of the Bristol Pilgrimage. We started this pilgrimage Friday July 31st, 2015 and our first stop was Windsor Castle. Well, the service reminded me mostly of the church services at Bristol Cathedral. But what does the Bristol services have anything to do with a Broadway themed symphony? Well that trip did not just consist of a pilgrimage. Pictures below come from the Bristol Pilgrimage.

My family went up two days early to spend more time in London. On July 30th, my mom gave me of the most memorable parts of my life. She took me to see Les Mis in London. Our seats were nine rows back from the stage. I was in the West End and I had an understudy play Jean Valjean (Adam Bayjou) and he was the best Valjean I had ever seen. The entire cast blew me away and I tend to look at the entire cast and not just the leads.

So Duke Chapel connected to Bristol Pilgrimage and Broadway-themed symphony in a way connected to my experience seeing Les Mis in London. Les Mis ended up being one of the musicals during the Broadway Symphony

What are some of the best experiences with musicals you have had?

My Experience at Duke Chapel

This morning, my church choir sang at Duke Chapel in Durham, North Carolina. I had a feeling that it the service will make me feel like I am back at Bristol Cathedral. Well, back two years ago, I did not know if I wanted to go to so many church services. I went to church services at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster, Salisbury Cathedral, and Bristol Cathedral.

Most of my church services were at Bristol Cathedral, which were sung by my Church Choir. In all, my choir sang six Evensong services and one Eucharist services. The service that they did the best was the last one and during their anthem, I cried and through that reaction I knew just how transforming my pilgrimage throughout England was.

Below are pictures throughout my Bristol Pilgrimage. These are pictures from Stonehenge, Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, and Old Sarum. However, the fellowship was the best part of the pilgrimage because if it wasn’t for the fellowship all of those amazing places would not have had the same impact they had.

On the bottom below, it is a picture of Shaun the Sheep in front of Bristol Cathedral. Throughout Bristol, Shaun the Sheep statues were hidden throughout Bristol as a fundraiser to help raise money for a children’s hospital.

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Below is Duke Chapel. Yes, this post is supposed to be mainly about Duke Chapel, but I had to explain about the Bristol Pilgrimage. Duke Chapel looks similar to Salisbury Chapel in a way and also looks similar to Bristol Cathedral. In the prelude, I literally started crying when the choir started singing. I feel like I did that because of how incredible the choir was, because of beautiful Duke Chapel was, and due to being transported back to one of the Bristol Cathedral church services.

But there was one very special moment in this church services. They played the same anthem in the last Evensong. Well, I had the same reaction and I cried. I literally had the same reaction and that reaction reminded me of the impact that the Bristol Pilgrimage had on me.

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Below are links to other posts I wrote relating to Bristol. One of them goes beyond the pilgrimage due to my family going up two days early.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/connection-between-les-mis-and-stonehenge/

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/the-servant-song-meaning/

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/fellowship-in-bristol/

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/bristol-pilgrimage/

 

Connection Between Les Mis and Stonehenge

I find an connection to Les Mis and Stonehenge in such a special way. But why do they feel connected?

As some may know, I went on a trip to England. The choir at my church was in residence at Bristol Cathedral, which meant that they were going to be singing there. So, the church took the choir and other members on a pilgrimage to places such as Old Sarum, Chepstow Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Berkeley Castle, and more. The year was 2015 and the pilgrimage began on July 31st. A pilgrimage is very different than a vacation. To me, a pilgrim goes to scared and spiritual places to create a deeper relationship with God and to find more meaning. A tourist on the other hand would just go to a place to explore and not so much to look for the sacredness and spirituality of a specific place.

The paintings below are pictures of Stonehenge and the Finale of Les Mis. They each played a part in that England trip and helped make that trip quite special.

But what does all of this have to do with Les Mis? Les Mis was not part of the pilgrimage, but was part of my trip to England. My parents took my sister and I to England two days early. So in those days, on July 30th, my mom took me to the Queens Theatre to see Les Misérables, a musical I dreamed of seeing in the West End. This was my first time seeing the musical professionally. Les Mis is such a special musical and it directly in a way was a great musical to see the day before a pilgrimage.

The picture below is a picture of me at the stage door with Adam Bayjou, who was my Valjean for the night and he was an understudy and was the best Jean Valjean I ever saw.  I always get nervous when I hear I have an understudy, but this Valjean was honestly so good. As a matter of fact, the entire cast was brilliant and due to finally seeing Les Mis in London, I found a bigger appreciation of a musical that changed the way I view musicals.

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Why would Les Mis be a wonderful musical to see before a pilgrimage? To start things off, Les Mis deals with spiritual themes and is a spiritual journey. Les Mis is a tale of love, hope, sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, humanity and redemption. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, goes on a spiritual journey when given a second chance at life. Seeing Les Mis in London was the best part of my trip to England.

Due to a pilgrimage being a spiritual journey, Les Mis fits perfectly. So the day after I went on Jean Valjean’s spiritual journey, I went on my own spiritual journey. Stonehenge was a “mountain top moment”. I really felt God’s Holy Spirit at Stonehenge. There was just something about the atmosphere that made Stonehenge so special. The strong wind felt like energy was going through you and felt like it was pulling you into Stonehenge. Stonehenge happened one week after I saw Les Mis in London.

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This is a picture from Windsor Castle. Visiting Windsor Castle was the first part of the pilgrimage. I got to see the changing of the guards. The first time I saw a guard in England was the day we arrived. My original reason for wanting to go to London was just to see a guard and that idea came from a child.

The pictures below are Tintern Abbey (Pictures on the right) and Chepstow Castle (Picture on the left).  At first, I thought Tintern Abbey would be kind of boring in a way. At first, I did not see the sacredness of it, but eventually did. I noticed a white dove nestled in the corner and a dove is symbol of spirituality so I got something out of Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey was in Wales.

In total, this pilgrimage consisted of ten church services. We saw Evensong at Westminster, Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral, and the other services, which consisted of one Eucharist and six Evensongs. Everything combined on this trip including the two extra days all provided something wonderful to this trip. There were the big memories such as Stonehenge and Les Mis and there were other memories, but those two things I did were quite special. As for the church services, my favorite ones were the ones sung by our Church Choir. As each service continued, the choir just got better and better. I actually cried twice during this trip. The first was during Les Mis and the second was at the last Evensong when the Anthem made me tear up. That reaction during that church service really showed just how transforming the England trip was.

The picture below is right in front of the Bristol Cathedral. Hidden throughout Bristol at the time, there were about seventy or so Shaun the Sheep statues as a fundraiser for a children’s hospital. Throughout my stay in Bristol, my family found about twenty one Shaun the Sheep statues.

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The best part of the pilgrimage was not any of the places that we went to, but was something that was created. Obviously Les Mis was the best part of the trip, but the best part of the pilgrimage was the fellowship created by all seventy two pilgrims. The fellowship is what made all the sacred and spiritual places we went to even more special.

Stonehenge in many ways really shows the meaning of a pilgrimage because it really is a place where you can strongly feel God’s Holy Spirit. Les Mis linked directly to the pilgrimage because of its spiritual themes and the fact that like the pilgrimage, it was also a spiritual journey. I honestly could go on and on why both Les Mis and the pilgrimage was as special as they were.

One Hundred Story Home Review

A True Story about Finding Faith in Yourself and Something Bigger

The Hundred Story Home leads you on an inspirational journey that begins with a questions, “where are the beds?” and ends with over one hundred formerly homeless people living in home of their own.

Kathy Izard was a graphic designer, wife, mother of four daughters, and volunteer at Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center when an unlikely meeting with formally homeless author Denver Moore (Same Kind of Different As Me) changed the course of her life. Inspired by Denver’s challenge to do more than serve in the soup kitchen, Kathy quits her job to take on what seemed like an unimaginable task in her second half of life-to build housing for Charlotte’s homeless

Women together in this motivational story of a call to social action of Kathy’s personal journey to define the meaning of home. Read the book that not only makes you believe you can change the world, it will also end up changing you.

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One Hundred Story home was the third book I finished this summer and also my third genre I read this summer. This time I read a nonfiction book. I am not a big fan of nonfiction, but my mom bought it for me knowing of my passion to help the homeless when I am older. I throughly enjoyed this book and was so inspiring. It actually made my dream of opening a theatre to help the homeless feel like it is possible. I want the homeless to act in plays and musicals and possibly even get the chance to work backstage.

At times, Kathy thought that there was no way she can ever house the chronically homeless because it seemed impossible. But through the motivation of people such as Denver, Dale, her husband and children, it helped her get through many hurdles she had to face while getting this started.

By reading the book, I realized just how hard it is to get a nonprofit started. The reason why I want the homeless to be involved in theatre is because I have a passion for musicals. The homeless have hidden talents that we do not know about. I know how much theatre has changed me and I cannot imagine how much more it would impact the homeless.

I am hoping the theatre will help give the homeless purpose in their lives and will help a community they might feel like they are missing. Even Kathy’s purpose took a lot of work especially when raising enough money to build the apartments. Lots had to be done before construction of the apartments could begin. It all started out with a sample program to see if her idea would work out.

So what I am saying is that this book made me realize that the theatre has chance of possibly working out. It shows me that it will happen even though it will take a lot of work. It shows you that some days will be harder then others. Even though I honestly just do not like nonfiction that much, I loved this book. I sometimes wonder why I am deeply connected to those living in poverty and homelessness. Kathy says that when you discover your calling, go for it. Even when people tell me my dream job is impossible, there will be people who will help you. I know I cannot get this theatre opened alone and will need more than just God to help me. The book shows that you can make a difference in the world.

Confusing Parts About a Musical

While I get older, the world of musicals gets quite complicated. In this post, I will talk about of the most confusing parts that exist in the world. I will even include the confusing parts that happened to me as the musical journey continued.

First thing is loving a character and having no clue why. That has happened and it would be nice to know why I love them in the first place. Fiyero is a character that has been part of my life since 2006. I have loved him for quite a while, but honestly cannot pinpoint exactly why I love him. When you first meet him, he doesn’t care much for school and he appears to be quite rude. He ends up part of a love triangle in Wicked complete with Elphaba and Glinda. I cannot believe I have loved him for so long, but cannot seem to analyze him so I feel there is still a lot to discover about him since sometimes I feel like I still don’t know him that well.

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There have been characters where I used to not be able to pinpoint why I loved them, but eventually discovered why I loved them and one of those characters is Eponine Thenardier. The second time I saw the movie musical of Les Mis, I noticed I loved the character of Eponine and that time I could not pinpoint why I fell in love with her. But over time as I got to know her more and more, I finally understood why I love Eponine. I love her due to her complexity, bravery, loyalty, and loving nature. Too bad I still cannot pinpoint why I love Fiyero because he has been part of my life much longer than Eponine has been part of my life.

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The second confusing part about the world of musicals is love triangles or anything around that nature. No matter what happens, you cannot satisfy every single character in a love triangle because one will always end up with unrequited love. Unrequited love probably is the most complicated part about a love triangle and it is complicated that two characters love the exact same person because in a love triangle it can consist of either two boys loving one girl or consisting of two girls and one boy. The ones I am referring to are the ones from “Phantom of the Opera”, “Les Mis”, and “Wicked”.

The love triangle that is the hardest to understand is the “Phantom of the Opera” love triangle even though it isn’t the most complex love triangle. The most complex love triangle belongs to “Wicked”, but I grasp that one better than “The Phantom of the Opera” love triangle due to how well I personally relate and connect to Elphaba.

The “Wicked” love triangle was my first exposure to them. I always knew “I’m Not That Girl” was a sad song. I was only in middle school when I first saw Wicked and in a lot of ways, I still feel like that 12 year old whenever I see the musical. By high school, I already understood the complexity and emotional side of musicals. I knew “Wicked” was home to a love triangle. In high school, I knew that love triangles provide an interesting emotional texture.

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However through the “Les Mis” love triangle”, I realized I didn’t fully understand love triangles. Through “On My Own”, I discovered that unrequited love is heartbreaking, which changed my perspective on love triangles. I cannot believe I am confessing this, but it took at least a year until I understood that “On My Own” was heartbreaking. “On My Own” was key to understanding that “I’m Not That Girl” was not just a sad song like I once believed, but heartbreaking. I think a big reason why “On My Own” helped me understand love triangles more is because no one in Wicked’s love triangle has a story that revolves around unrequited love.

But in “Les Mis”, one of the character’s stories revolves around unrequited love. “Les Mis” has Eponine. Eponine has to spend her entire storyline having to struggle with the fact that Marius is not going to love her back. The song, “On My Own”, is much stronger and more powerful than “I’m Not That Girl”. At the moment literally before “I’m Not That Girl”, Elphaba just found out moments before that she loved Fiyero so there isn’t room for the song to be fully heartbreaking. Love triangles are quite difficult to understand and can take quite a long time to understand. Of all love triangles, it is the “Les Mis” one that I have grasped the best, which was key to understanding the “Wicked” one even though the “Les Mis” one is less complex.

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But in Eponine’s case, “On My Own” is much stronger because Eponine’s love for Marius is stronger than Elphaba’s love for Fiyero. In Eponine’s situation, Eponine loves Marius so much because he is the only person in her life who shows her kindness. But after Marius fell in love with Cosette, Eponine shows true love towards him. By the time “On My Own” happens, you already know how much Eponine loves Marius. So it took a more serious and stronger form of unrequited love to understand unrequited love from a less extreme form of unrequited love. “Wicked” would be the less extreme example of unrequited love, but the crazy thing is that the “Wicked” love triangle is even more complex thanks to a plot twist that happens.

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This is a third confusing part about musicals, which happened to me in 2012. Growing up, I was the person who believed all musicals were happy because it was all I had known. I didn’t realize that what I believed was not true. In 2012, my parents took my sister and I to see the movie of Les Mis in December of 2012. After the first death, it hit me that Les Mis is a tragedy and I didn’t even know how to respond and I was so shocked and confused. I was thinking “wait a second, Les Mis is a tragedy” and “musicals are not supposed to be tragic”. By the end, I had no idea if I liked it or not, but must have been moved by it due to just researching it over time.

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So over time, I learned to see beyond the heartbreak in Les Mis. I decided to research why the ending makes me feel uplifted. I realized that the story is about hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice and redemption. I soon learned that even though Les Mis is a tragedy, it fits nicely into the world of musicals because musicals are known to be emotional. Les Mis taught me that heartbreak is a musical emotions so it was helpful that I learned that sad was a common emotion through the happy musicals. Tragedies no longer are confusing to me in the world of musicals and seeing musical through the eyes of them made it easier to spot negative emotions in new musicals.

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The fourth confusing bit about musicals belong to the emotions. The musical emotions are so complicated because there are so many layers and each musical has a different emotional nature. Even your love for a musical shapes what the emotional nature is. If you don’t love a musical, it is a bit difficult to feel the emotional nature that naturally beings to a musical. There are five main musical emotions, which are excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak.

The negative emotions have been going through drastic changes lately. The negative emotions are the ones that do not grow as quickly as the positive emotions and they are weaker than the positive emotions. That is due to the fact that the negative emotions are not in every single musical and there also has to be appreciation of the songs that are home to the negative emotions where they are strong enough to create an impact. It is a bit hard to fully appreciate and even invest in them if you do not like either the show you saw them in or if you have a hard time falling in love with characters or the same thing in the plot as well. Due to heartbreak being in the mix, it makes the negative emotions really hard to describe.

From musicals like “Music Man” and “Singing in the Rain”  to musicals like “Les Mis”, that is a wide range of emotions. “Music Man” and “Singing in the Rain” are mainly home to positive emotions because those two shows don’t have enough complexity or conflict to be home to the negative emotions in the score.

But when would you say the negative emotions truly begin in musicals? I would say maybe a show like “Sound of Music”. Not everyone can strongly feel its complexity or even its negative emotions either. But two years ago when I saw “Sound of Music” live, I remember during “Edelweiss” feeling sad at one point, which happened at a very odd point in the song. It happened in between the time when the Captain stopped signing and when the children began. I teared up for the rest of it. So in a way, a show like “Sound of Music” is where I would say the negative emotions begin.

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So far, the strongest point of sad has been “Les Mis” and I don’t think that is ever going to change. “Les Mis” is quite a powerful musical and has taught me that I didn’t fully grasp the negative emotions up. All I realized growing up was that I was just beginning to understand musical emotions. At one point in my “Les Mis” journey, I was surprised that some musical songs happen while a character is dying like “A Little Fall of Rain” or “Come to Me”. Of all musicals, “Les Mis” seems like it is home to the most musical emotions.

So understanding musical emotions is very complicated. Each musical has a different emotional nature. The negative emotions are home to a wonderful blend of complexity, vulnerability, and fragility. The sad and heartbreaking songs tend to be some of the most beautiful musical songs in existence like “On My Own”, “This Nearly Was Mine”, “I Dreamed a Dram”,  “Your Eyes”, “Somewhere”, etc are all beautiful songs and it is very easy to appreciate loving feeling the negative emotions if you fall in love with the sad songs.

So far, of all the musicals I love, “Wicked”, “South Pacific”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Man of La Mancha”, “Sound of Music”, “Newsies”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Rent”, and “Les Mis” are all home to positive and negative emotions when it comes to the score. What is crazy about this list is that only one of those is not home to heartbreak, but only sad it seems. In a lot of ways, the negative emotions are more complicated than the positive emotions. The positive emotions are very easy to fall in love with, but the negative emotions are much harder to fall in love with because the negative emotions hurt and there are so many levels of the negative emotions in existence.

“Les Mis” showed me that the negative emotions have a lot of potential in them. Growing up, I have never been able to notice the tiny details of negative emotions and I never spent my time analyzing them. I feel like musical emotions will keep on getting more and more complex over the years due the fact that I will continue getting older with new life experiences and new shows will continue entering my life. But I love the complexity that show up in musicals because it shows I have a bigger understanding of what a musical is capable of. I know I talked a lot about musical emotions, but in a way, musical emotions are the most confusing part about a musical.

 

 

Is Marius and Cosette a Wonderful Couple?

Yesterday, I talked about why I am not bothered by “love at first sight” in a musical. Today, I will talk about a couple that falls in “love at first sight”. Those two characters are Marius and Cosette from Les Mis. A lot of people think that they shouldn’t have been a couple because they fall in “love at first sight” and that Marius should have ended up with Eponine. Well, in this post I will explain why I love Marius and Cosette together.

Possible Spoilers:

When you first meet Cosette, she is lodging with the Thenardiers and she is eight at the time. You learn that she is horribly abused by them and is forced to be a servant. But Jean Valjean comes to the rescue after promising Fantine that he will raise Cosette as his own after she dies.

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In Les Mis, Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light. True, she isn’t as developed as many of the other characters, but she grew up in a very sheltered and protected life. Valjean only sheltered her because he is an ex-convict and if he is out much, he has the danger of being caught by Javert. Yes, I love Eponine the most out of the three despite how horrible and dark her life is. Yes, in a way it would be happy if Eponine ended up with Marius, but if that was the case it would not make sense at all and Eponine just wouldn’t seem like the Eponine we come to love.

One interesting plot point in Les Mis is the switch that happens that Eponine and Cosette. Cosette had a horrible childhood, but her life improved after Jean Valjean rescued her. The rescue of Cosette is one place where you begin to understand that Cosette is supposed to represent hope. In the case of Eponine, she starts out by being spoiled by her parents and appears to be loved by her parents however that is not always going to be the case. After Cosette is rescued by Jean Valjean, Eponine gets the same treatment that Cosette got and her parents teach her the ways of being a criminal and her family falls into extreme poverty. So due to the switch, it makes perfect sense why Cosette ends up with Marius and why Eponine ends up with unrequited love for Marius.

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Les Mis is played out so nicely that it truly works that Marius and Cosette get together. If it wasn’t for Eponine, Marius would never have met Cosette after he fell in love with her. True, when Marius fall in love with Cosette, he was conflicted between his passion for the rebellion and his passion for Cosette. He does decide to fight in the rebellion after believing that Cosette is leaving. As a matter of fact, if Marius never loved Cosette, he most likely would have died during the rebellion because Valjean would not have come to the barricade to protect him. During the rebellion, Valjean learned that Cosette loves Marius and due to that, he heads over to the barricades to protect Marius.

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Marius faced a lot of trauma at the barricades. First, Eponine was fatally wounded and that left him quite upset. But he still showed compassion by being with her till she died. In an odd way, it even makes sense that Eponine died because it makes perfect sense why Marius would be the only survivor. The real June Rebellion was highly unsuccessful, which is why it makes sense that Eponine, Gavroche Enjolras and all the students died during the rebellion and it makes sense that Marius survived because if he died, Cosette would not be able to represent hope and light and Jean Valjean would have had less of a spiritual journey and Les Mis just wouldn’t be Les Mis. “Bring Him Home” is Valjean praying to God to protect Marius and allow him to survive. After Marius fall unconscious, Valjean carried Marius to safety. Marius suffered from survivor’s guilt after discovering he is the only one alive. Cosette did care for Marius while he was recovering so Cosette does show that she loves him even if it is hard to notice.

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Due to Cosette representing hope and light, Marius needed to survive. Cosette and Marius did survive during all of Les Mis and did get married. Of all the Les Mis characters who survived (which isn’t many), Marius and Cosette are my favorite characters. Les Mis is such a tragic tale and as a result, I love that Cosette represents hope and light. That is why it makes sense that she got married to Marius and that both she and Marius survived all of Les Mis. True, Marius knew Eponine longer than Cosette, but why should that be a factor into who Marius falls in love with? I love “A Heart Full of love”, the love song in the piece and most of it focuses on Marius and Cosette and later it focuses on all three. This love triangle isn’t silly because love is one of the biggest themes in the musical and it means love in different forms and the love triangle forms two types of love.

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In relationship to this post, below I have a link to a post I wrote about the love triangle in Les Mis.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/love-triangle-of-les-mis/

What are your thoughts on Marius and Cosette as a couple?