Opinions I Once Had About Musicals

This is a list of beliefs I had about musicals at one point my journey. I will talk about why I had those options and will talk about why I no longer have those opinions. But now, each of those points have been disproven by Les Mis.

Possible Spoilers:

My first opinion was all musicals are happy. I only said that because that was all I had seen and due to that I believed every musical was happy. Les Mis disproved that and even Rent did the same thing. But it really was Les Mis that disproved it. I saw the movie musical back in 2012 and that was my first full exposure to the musical. While watching I discovered Les Mis was a heartbreaking musical and did not know how to respond. Over time Les Mis became such an important part of my musical journey and my life. I realized NOT all musicals are happy like I once believed.

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A second opinion I had about theatre in general is that I will always hate tragedies and will never learn to love one. Both Les Mis and Rent disproved that opinion as well. I love both of them. Both of them are sad and I can be particular when it comes to tragic musicals. I love them because they have amazing songs, characters, and storylines. Both go beyond their tragic nature. Les Mis has this underlying spirituality due to its forgiveness, compassion, love, hope, sacrifice, humanity and sacrifice and Rent has the message of living in the moment and measuring your life in love.

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A third opinion I had about theatre is that a death scene can never be memorable. Prior to Les Mis, I have seen death scenes in musicals, but I have forgotten about some of them and overlooked some of them. All of the death scenes in Les Mis but Javert’s are memorable. Those memorable deaths happen to characters who do not die alone and they all have some kind of joy in their death scenes. Fantine dies with Valjean by her side who promises to her that he will raise Cosette as his own. Eponine, despite being shot, dies in the arms of Marius, the man she loves even though that love is unrequited. Gavroche and the students died standing up for what they believed in. Valjean died with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius by his side.

So far, the only memorable death scenes in musicals happened to be from Les Mis. The fact that Javert was the only character to die alone shows just how memorable the other deaths are. All of my favorite characters are dead by the end of the musical. But they still have a wonderful fate.

A fourth opinion that formed is that every musical must have some dance or spectacle element and those two are still part of my musical vision. Once again, Les Mis disproved that point again. Through Les Mis, I realized just how incredible a musical can be without a dance or spectacle element.

A fifth opinion I had is that negative emotions can never go beyond sad. I started to understand the negative emotions in middle school. By high school, I knew sad was common and was important. But I believed the negative emotions could never be more. Les Mis once again disproved that point. I realized there is more to sad when it comes to the negative emotions. I had no idea I was 100% blind to heartbreak. It isn’t just heartbreak that entered: it is just how deep the heartbreak actually is in Les Mis.

This might be connected, but even other emotions changed as a result of realizing heartbreak is musical emotion. It affected joy and love as well. Look at heartbreaking love songs and look at heartbreaking song with joy in it. Look at just how insightful and truthful and powerful they can be. Prior to Les Mis, I don’t remember if a musical song made me cry, but in Les Mis, I cry each time I listen to the song or even watch the musical in any way.

So Les Mis really showed me a side of musicals I had never seen before. I had all of these opinions only because of what I had known about musicals. It had to do with what I remembered. It had to do with how I interpreted them. Since happy musicals used to take up every single musical, I ended up calling most musicals happy and calling all musicals joyful. It makes sense why I thought a death scene could never be memorable. So in many ways, this post shows a huge reason why Les Mis played such a huge part in my musical journey.

What are some opinions you once had about musicals and did anything disprove them?

Musical Families: Round Two

Once upon a time on this blog, I talked about musical families. I talked about only loving families. But on this post, my focus will be on all musical families. Some of these families are biological families and some of these families were created either by adoption or a group of friends formed a family.

Possible Spoilers

The first family I want to talk about is the Thenardier Family. The Thenardier family is defiantly not a loving family due to just how abusive and neglectful this family is. In the musical, it consists of Monseiur and Madame Thenardier, Gavroche and Eponine.

You first get to know them through Young Cosette. At the time, Cosette is eight and you notice that the Thenardiers are in fact quite abusive due to just how poorly they treat Young Cosette and that is shown through “Castle on a Cloud”. They even treat her like a servant and they have scammed Fantine out of money and use it to spoil their daughter, Eponine. Just through how they treat Cosette says a lot about the Thenardiers. I read in the book that if Cosette wasn’t there, they would have abused their own children. Following her parent’s lead, Eponine also poorly treats Cosette. Throughout “Master of the House”, you learn that the Thenardiers are in fact pickpockets. Through those two songs, you get an idea of the environment Eponine is going to be growing up in.

However, Jean Valjean eventually comes for Cosette. The sad truth about that is that while Cosette is rescued, Eponine is stuck with the Thenardiers for the rest of her life. They actually kicked Gavroche out of their house and that in a way shows just how unloving the Thenardiers are. When it comes to Eponine, they give her the same treatment that Cosette got. Right after Cosette got rescued, the Thenardiers’ inn goes bankrupt and the family falls into extreme poverty.

Not only do they horribly abuse Eponine, but they teach her the ways of being a criminal. She actually is involved in her father’s schemes by being a watchdog for the law. Eponine no longer is living in a loving family and she is all alone in the world. She lives in such a dark world and she is all alone and not a lot of good things happen in her life No one shows her an once of kindness in her life.

The only person who treated her kindly was Marius and that was why she fell in love with Marius and why she loves him so deeply. Even though Marius loves Cosette, all she cares about is to make sure he is happy even if it means losing him forever. If Marius never entered Eponine’s life, her life would be so much darker and there would be no light.

Despite the fact that the Thenardiers are so unloving, I believe this family is a memorable one. The Thenardiers are the comic relief in this musical and good thing they do because it is much needed. There is importance behind the fact that both Gavroche and Eponine are the children of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers are defiantly some of the worst parents ever in literature. They are quite despicable, greedy, abusive, selfish, neglectful and unloving and do not even love or care about their children. Even when Garvroche and Eponine are killed during the uprising, they just do not care that their children died.

Another musical family is the Von Trapp family. Unlike the Thenardier family, this family is loving. The Captain may be strict with the children, but he is still loving towards them. When Maria becomes governess there, she brought happiness back to his house by teaching his seven children to sing. Eventually the Captain and Maria fell in love and they get married. This was one of the earliest families to enter my life since I have loved Sound of Music since elementary school.

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In Annie, a family is created as the show continues. Daddy Warbucks wants an orphan to stay in his home for a week over the holidays (Fourth of July in the movie and Christmas in the stage show). Daddy Warbucks wanted a boy to stay there, but he ended up with Annie. Through the course of her stay, Daddy Warbucks falls in love with Annie and eventually adopts her. Just like Sound of Music, this family has been part of my life for just as long.

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Another family found in Les Mis is the one between Young Cosette and Jean Valjean. As Fantine is dying, she is still desperate for the care of Cosette. Through an act of compassion, Jean Valjean agrees to raise Cosette as his own. After discovering Cosette in the woods, he almost immediately falls in love with her as his daughter. He realizes just how poorly Cosette’s life has been. Both Cosette and Jean Valjean are broken on the inside and through their love for each other, they are eventually healed. But there are challenges with raising Cosette. Since Valjean is an ex-convict, he is always on the run from Javert and he has to protect and shelter Cosette so often because whenever he is out, he is always in danger of being caught by Javert.

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Another Les Mis family belong to the Enjolras and the students. This is an example of friends who form a family. They have such a brotherly love for each other. Enjolras is the leader of the group and the most passionate about their cause. They plan a rebellion in the streets in response to an unstable government. They basically take in Gavroche and Gavroche ends up with family through them. Even though he is just a boy, he still helps out at the barricade.

Very similar to the students of Les Mis, the Newsies create a very similar family. Jack Kelly is the leader of the Newsies and has a special bond to Crutchie. A lot of them are orphans, runaways, or homeless, but all they have is each other. They are so close and stand up for what they believe in. Newsies is the newest family of the musicals I love.

Another friendship family is found among the characters in Rent. Many of them are starving artists and are poor. They live in the fact of fear due to the stigma surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mimi, Roger, Collins, and Angel are HIV positive. The other characters found in this family are Joeanne, Maureen, and Mark. These characters have a very close bond. They live their lives in love and despite relationship struggles at times, they still stay quite connected.

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One family that is quite important is my family. If it wasn’t for my parents, I may not be a musical fan at all. They took my sister and I to see musicals growing up both live and in the movie theatre. Seeing musicals starting in elementary school were essential to my musical journey. I saw musicals such as Cats, Beauty the Beast, Lion King, Annie, and Sound of Music back in elementary school. My mom took me to see Wicked when I was 12 in New York. Even today, my family takes me to the theatre to see musicals. I have special memories of my family and musicals.

Wicked was not the only theatre date I had with my mom. She also took me to see Pippin, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis and due to those being a mother/daughter date, it added to just how special all those trips were. I actually did see Wicked with my dad when I saw the musical for the third time and I remember my dad giving me the better seat even though he had never seen it. The tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me and dad switched places with me. I wouldn’t have been exposed to musicals in the first place if they didn’t take me in the beginning.

Below is a link to my first musical post I wrote about families. It has all the families I talked about except for the Thenardier family. That was because my first post belonged to the loving families

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/importance-of-family-in-musicals/

Favorite Male Musical Characters: Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote a list of my favorite male musical characters. Today, I will explain why I love them.

Possible Spoilers:

First up is Jean Valjean. He is the protagonist of Les Misérables. I love him because of his transformation. He is an ex-convict who has been imprisoned unjustly. He was sentenced for five years because he stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s son. Because of trying to escape, he was imprisoned for nineteen years. When he was released, he was a hateful, harsh, and angry man. He realized that society was treat him poorly because he was an ex-convict. Through an act of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness by the bishop, Valjean was able to start his life fresh.

Years laters, he started to live by the example by the example. He was no longer angry, harsh, and hateful. He began to show compassion towards the poor. He decided to help the prostitute, Fantine, after he intervened to prevent her from being arrested. On her deathbed, Valjean promised to raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. Valjean has this strong spirituality and is one of the reasons why Les Mis is inspirational.

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Another set of Les Mis male characters I love are Gavroche, Enjolras and the students. They are a group of revolutionaries who are planning to start a rebellion. They stand up for what they believe in and they continue to stay passionate and hopeful. Even when they know they are going to lose, they still are passionate towards their cause. Of all the students, Enjolras is their leader and the most passionate about the cause.

A lot of their songs are passionate and hopeful, but in “Drink With Me”, they feel quite hopeless because they know are going to lose, but they always stay passionate. I love how they decide to take in Gavroche, a heroic boy. Gavroche is a Thenardier and the students become his family.

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A group of characters that is similar to the students in Les Mis are the Newsies. Just like the students, they stand up for what they believe in. The Newsies are like this big one family with Jack Kelly as their leader. Of all the Newsies, my favorites are Jack and Crutchie. I love the bond they have for each other, which is clearly shown during “Santa Fe (Prologue). You discover Jack is quite protective of Crutchie. Jack is a well rounded character because he has a hobby of drawing and he eventually goes through inner conflict after seeing Crutchie being arrested after this big fight breaks out.

In Wicked, I love the character of Fiyero. But the problem is I cannot exactly pinpoint why I love him. I don’t know if has something to do with his songs or his costumes of something completely different. He starts out the story with not really caring much about anything. He is involved in a very complicated and ironic love triangle with Elphaba and Glinda. I honestly wish I know why I love this character.

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Another male character I love is the Beast. I love how complex of a character he is. I love how he eventually learned to love. At the beginning, the Beast started out as angry. I don’t blame him especially after he had to live his life as beast the enchantress put a spell on him. He had to live his life as a beast and would stay that way if he didn’t learn to love. But when he met Belle, everything changed. Belle taught him the importance of love and she learned to see that is more to the Beast than the temper he always seems to have.

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What are some your favorite male musical characters?

Musical Characters Who Show Courage

What does brave mean? In the musical world, there are characters who show courage. They show it in many ways. Below I will talk about some musical characters who show courage. In a lot of ways, these are characters that you can admire and fall in love with.

Possible Spoilers:

Elphaba is a character who shows courage. She shows courage despite how much she keeps on being misunderstood. She does not let anyone define who she is. She stands up for what she believes even though she risks being up against the Wizard. Elphaba knows the Wizard will use her for the wrong reasons so she defies him and decides to go on her own path. Even though this act causes the Wizard to believe she is wicked, she still stays passionate towards her cause.

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Enjolras, Gavroche, Marius and the students all show courage. They stay passionate towards what they believe in. They stand up against France’s weak government at the time. General Lamarque, the only left in the government who shows feelings for the poor, is dying. The students all decide to have an uprising. They are risking their lives for hope of a better France. They know they might die. After Eponine dies, they know they are outnumbered. But despite that, they stay stay passionate towards their cause. At the end all of the students died excluding Marius and even in death, they still were passionate towards their cause. Even Gavroche, who was just a boy, died on the barricades. The students were low on ammunition and he climbed over the barricade and died in the attempt.

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Eponine is another character from Les Mis who shows courage. She has to face terrible abuse from her parents and has to deal with extreme poverty. But when it comes to Marius, she is very protective of him. She loves him so much that she is willing to do anything for him. Even though the love for him is unrequited, she helps him find Cosette even if it risks losing Marius forever. She even shows courage when her father is about to rob Valjean’s house and out of love for Marius, she screams to alert Cosette, Marius, and Valjean. This act of courage causes her father to disown since his daughter just defied him and prevented him from robbing Valjean’s house.

Despite the heartbreak of Eponine’s love for Marius, she decides to join Marius on the barricade. In the stage version, Marius noticing that Eponine is there sends her away to deliver a letter to Cosette and he does that in order to protect her from the uprising. Eponine still returned to the barricade and that led to unfortunate circumstances. In the movie, seeing that Marius was about to get shot, she sacrificed her life for him. The wounds she received were fatal and she ended up dying in the arms of Marius. In fact, dying in Marius’ arms was the happiest time of her life. Marius was heartbroken over the fact that Eponine was dying, but he still stayed brave for her and still showed compassion in this moment.

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Jean Valjean showed courage as well. He showed courage after discovering that a man believed to be Valjean was going to be sent to jail. Valjean decided to intervene and prevented this man from being sent to prison. Valjean knows what it is like to be in prison and did want this man to face that same fate. He even showed courage after realizing that Cosette loves Marius. He learned that Marius is one of the student revolutionaries and went to the barricade to make sure Marius survives. When Marius falls unconscious, Valjean carried him to safety and the only way to escape was through the sewers.

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Crazy just how many characters from Les Mis showed courage. They risked their life in order to protect others. Both Eponine and Valjean risked their lives for Marius. Eponine did it out of love for Marius and Valjean did it out of love for Cosette. The students and Gavroche showed courage out of love for France. It seems that a lot of the characters in Les Mis show courage out of love for either a country or even someone else.

Even all the Newsies show courage. They decided to go on strike against Pultizer after he raised the price on papers. Even when they stopped work, they still stayed passionate towards their cause. This does led to a big fight, but even after that fight, they still stayed passionate about the strike, but does cause a lot of inner conflict in Jack.

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There is just something wonderful about musical characters who show courage. They can be admired. They teach you the importance of courage. In “Seize the Day” from Newsies, some of the lyrics are “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”.  Courageous characters show the importance of standing up for what you believe in. All of the characters who show courage is one important characteristic to a well-written character. All of the characters I talked about are characters that I love.

Heartbreak and Inspiration of Les Mis

A progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty; from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end

-Victor Hugo

Yes, Les Mis again

The quote above just shows the tale of Les Mis and how the main character’s journey progresses from beginning to end.

The musical, Les Misérables, is one of the most successful musicals of all time. The tile literally means the miserable and can even mean the downtrodden, the outcasts, and the fugitives. The title literally gives away the fact that Les Mis is indeed a very heartbreaking musical. The musical takes place during early 19th century France starting in 1815 and ending up in 1832.

 It can be quite curious as to why such a heartbreaking musical is so successful. I do remember the first time I saw the movie, the moment I learned Les Mis was a tragedy, I was so confused and sort of lost. That time around, I saw the musical as too depressing. I didn’t know if I actually liked that movie or not when it finished. I didn’t know if I would give the movie a second chance or not.

Despite all the confusion, I still decided to research the musical and learn more about the book. I even started to listen to the songs more and discover more about them. After all of that, I did decide to watch the musical movie a second time. This time around, I truly knew there was something special about the musical. I was curious as to why so much heartbreak can actually make you feel uplifted in the end. 

In Les Mis, it is important not to view the musical as just a heartbreaking musical because it is way more than that. True, most of the scenes are sad and heartbreaking, but those scenes are incredible scenes to watch as a matter of fact. The story is one of misery, heartbreaking, suffering and death, but also a story of love, compassion, hope, sacrifice, forgiveness, humanity and redemption. In a lot of ways, the inspirational side of Les Mis does exist throughout the heartbreaking nature.

The heartbreaking and the inspirational nature of this musical both show up in the prologue. The very first scene, the negative emotions enter the picture and up until the bishop scene, we see Valjean being treated poorly by society. No one is given him a place to stay, a job, or even something to eat all because he was an ex-convict. All of those scenes are heartbreaking and we can feel the injustice that Valjean faces. But enter the bishop and he offers Valjean a place to sleep and food to eat. But Valjean does still steal some silver from the bishop out of desperation and he is caught. He is surprised that the bishop actually lies and tells the police that he gave Valjean the silver has a gift and gives Valjean two candlesticks. Valjean uses the lesson that bishop taught him throughout the rest of this journey. The moment the heartbreaking and the inspirational natures clash together, the two are inseparable.

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Possible Spoilers:

You see inspiration through Valjean helping the poor once he becomes mayor. There is something inspirational about Valjean rescuing a man who has fallen under his cart. There is even inspiration when Valjean learns that a man was falsely accused of being him and Valjean turns himself in. But Valjean truly shows compassion towards Fantine, a former worker at Valjean’s factory, who turns to prostitution after being fired. Valjean promises to Fantine on her deathbed that he will raise Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, as his own. So there is compassion shown during death scenes.

Another death scene where compassion is shown is through Eponine’s death scene. She has just retuned to the barricades (different circumstance in the movie) and gets caught in the crossfire and gets shot and unfortunately her wounds are fatal. She loves Marius, a revolutionary on the barricade, unrequitedly. The moment she climbs over the barricade, Marius has no clue that she is terribly hurt. But after she collapses in his arms, Marius knows what is going on. He is truly devastated, but ultimately shows her compassion by never leaving her side. Even though he thinks it is too soon for her to leave, he still stays brave for her.

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There is something hopeful about the students standing up against the government. They are so passionate about their cause. Up until Eponine’s death, the students feel like there is a chance they will win. But after Eponine died, the students realized that they are way outnumbered and feel hopeless. But they still fight hoping that others will stand up for what they believe in. Valjean arrives shortly after Eponine died and he shows mercy and forgiveness towards Javert after he releases him from the barricades even though he promised the students he will execute Javert.

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If I never found a spiritual side to Les Mis, I feel like I would be kind of tired of the musical by now. I love feeling hurt and heartbroken in this musical because I strongly care about the characters and strongly love the plot and strongly love how the show makes you feel. You can feel hope, compassion, forgiveness, love, joy, excitement, uplifted, sad, heartbreak, guilt, loneliness, anger, hopeless, fear, desperation, devastation, depressed,  and even uncomfortable and there are even more than that. To understand the success of Les Mis, you need to see beyond its heartbreaking nature.

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The reasons why I believe Les Mis is so successful because it has incredible and memorable characters, like the angered, harsh, hateful turned compassionate and saintlike Valjean, the strict and obsessive Javert, the loving and prostitute Fantine, the greedy, abusive and comical Thenardiers, the loving, brave, neglected and lonely Eponine, the revolutionary and romantic Marius, the kind and innocent Cosette, the passionate and hopeful, leader Enjolras, and the unloved and heroic Gavroche. In addition, I love the brilliance of the story, which is the tale of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict and his journey to redemption, which includes the love triangle of Eponine, Marius and Cosette, the student uprising (AKA June Rebellion of 1832), and the story of Fantine.

But ultimately, I think the biggest reason why Les Mis is so successful is due the emotional nature of the songs. They make you feel several emotions at such a deep level all the way to the deepest level of the Holy Spirit. This musical feel so realistic and feels like you can truly care about the characters. Even though it is heartbreaking, it has several topics found in Christianity like love, humanity, sacrifice,  compassion, forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Les Mis is the most powerful musical ever and its complexity changed my view on musicals and taught me the value of tragedy in the first place.

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Favorite Child Musical Characters

This is a list of some of the most memorable child characters in the world of musicals. They are in no order of how much I love, but I will identify which child character I love the most.

  1. Annie-favorite
  2. Molly and other orphans
  3. Young Cosette
  4. Gavroche
  5. Gretl, Marta-basically the younger Von Trapp children
  6. Winthrop
  7. Theo
  8. Les

Annie is my favorite character of these children because back in elementary school, Annie was my favorite musical. I especially loved the song “Tomorrow”. At one point I almost forgot how much I loved Annie, but I did eventually remember. I love the way she treats Molly, the youngest of the girls at the orphanage. I just love how optimistic Annie is and how she treats Sandy, a stray dog she just randomly adopts on the streets.

What are some your favorite child musical characters

Wrap-up of Les Mis Character Analysis

Major Spoilers:

For the past couple of days I have been analyzing the Les Mis characters. The ones I analyzed are Jean Valjean (protagonist), Javert (antagonist), Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, the Thenardiers, Enjolras, the students, and Gavroche. These memorable characters are one of the biggest reasons why this musical is so successful. These analysis’ shows how interlocked their lives are. It shows how they directly and indirectly they affect each others lives. They all belong in Les Mis because something no good happens to every single one of them. Most of them die by the end of Les Mis and the only survivors are Marius, Cosette, and the Thenardiers.

Below I will give a few adjectives to describe the characters. If I put an arrow, it shows if their personality changes.

Jean Valjean: bitter, harsh, angry> compassionate, merciful, forgiving

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Javert: obsessive, strict

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Fantine: loving, heartbreaking, tragic

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Cosette: broken>curious, romantic, considerate, hopeful

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Marius: revolutionary, romantic, compassionate, kind

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Eponine: spoiled> loving, lonely, neglected, unloved, brave, fearless

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Thenardiers: abusive, greedy, selfish, cruel, unloving

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Enjolras and students-passionate, brothers, Enjolras (leader)

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Gavroche: brave, heroic

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There is a reason why all of these characters are so loved. It is very hard to pick a favorite even though I love some more than others. As for the females, my favorite is Eponine and have no idea why. These characters are quite complex and you feel like you get to know them. They are so important and though most may die, most die not alone, but with somebody like Valjean being by Fantine’s side when she dies or Eponine dying in Marius’ arms.

What are your thoughts on the Les Mis characters