Becoming Open-Minded

What does it mean to be open-minded? In my opinion, it is giving something a chance. It means exploring something from a different perspective. Being open-minded always is worth it. I am aware it can be hard to be open-minded at times and end up with the wrong perspective. Sometimes I have been extremely close-minded to certain subjects and genres.

One of the biggest things I was so close-minded to was the genre of tragedy. In ninth grade, I discovered the genre for the very first time through Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Not only was I close-minded to tragedy, but also close-minded to Shakespeare. I automatically associated tragedies with sad and thought they were nothing more. All through high school, each time I had to read a tragedy, I ignored it and pushed it far back like it didn’t belong in theatre. I didn’t realize I was soon to learn that tragedies were way more then I thought they would be. Well, that happened in the most unexpected of ways, but glad I finally learned to love some of them.

When I went to see the movie of the musical, Les Mis, I came in not knowing what that title meant and already knew “I Dreamed a Dream”. I wasn’t even told that Les Mis was a tragedy, but glad I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have gone at all. I mainly decided to see the movie to listen to “I Dreamed a Dream”. I was quite unsure coming into the movie whether or not I would like it or not. The moment I realized Les Mis was a tragedy was after the first character died and I was so in shock. The rest of the movie I watched in shock not knowing how to respond. I was quite surprised that musicals are home to tragedies because I grew up believing that all musicals were comedies. It is true that most musicals are happy, but I learned how to call all musicals joyful.

But well if you think about it, it was so worth it not realizing Les Mis was a tragedy until I saw the movie. I decided to give the movie a second chance a couple of months after the first viewing, and this time I got way more out of it. The tragic moments were easier to handle because I already knew they were coming. That time around I started to realize there was something special about the emotional impact in Les Mis. I did want to know why this heartbreaking musical always ended in an uplifting way and decided to learn more. I realized that at its core is a story of love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. From Les Mis, I learned the real value of tragedy and why the genre matters. So through Les Mis, I learned not to judge a book by its cover in terms of genre. The genre is not quite as important as the actual plot and characters.

So, try to be more open-minded. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Try to find value in things you just don’t want to give a chance. All because of Les Mis, I realized that I never should of been close-minded to tragedy in the first place. I try to see beyond the genre and figure out what it is at the very core of novels or anything else in literature. Besides Les Mis, there are other sad shows I learned to love. The others are Rent and La Bohème, but I do like West Side Story, but don’t love it.

Open-Minded

Discovering “Les Mis” through the Bible

As a way of figuring out why “Les Mis” is inspirational, I always find lines in the bible that represent what the show is. I know that the musical is very sad, but it is important for me to know why the show is as inspirational as it because it makes the experience even better. It is a story of sacrifice, love, forgiveness, humanity, compassion, hope, and redemption.

“For the spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirt that it within?”- 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

I found that passage in the bible yesterday and made me connect to “Les Mis”. The show is ultimately about the survival of the human spirit. When I first saw that on the “Les Mis” page, I did not know what that truly meant. When I saw that, I really had to figure out the survival of the human spirit means. I think that phrase can mean a number of things. In my opinion, the survival of the human spirit is how to thrive in life no matter what. The human spirit lives in everyone and it is about how to keep that spirit alive. It refers to what  it means to be human and “Les Mis” truly represents that.

“Les Mis” takes place during a very dark time in France. It takes place after the the French Revolution and France was still recovering from that. During this time period, there were multiple rebellions and revolutions, an unstable government, and lots of injustice and misery. All of this is reflected in “Les Mis” at some point. Jean Valjean faces injustice for an unfair sentence in jail just for stealing a loaf of bread. He got sentenced for five years and fourteen extra for trying to escape. Than there is the unfair treatment of women during that time period, which is shown through the tragic character of Fantine, who went on a downward spiral after she got fired all because she an illegitimate child, which sounds unfair. The rebellion situation was shown through Enjorlas and the students when they started a uprising after a death of a very important man in the government. In addition, you see the condition of the poor during songs such as “At the End of the Day” and the second version of “Look Down”.

“Les Mis” speaks directly to the soul, which is why the emotions are as strong as they are. The musical teaches you what it means to be human and how you can rise above your background. This is shown through characters such as Jean Valjean and Eponine. Jean Valjean was released from prison with a hardened heart and was filled with so much anger and hatred toward society. No one would give him a chance because he was an ex-convict but was taken in by a compassionate bishop, who taught him the ways of the Lord and after this Valjean reflects on his current situation and decides to become a better person even if it means breaking parole. Time passes and he is now a successful businessman and is filled with so much spirituality, compassion, and kindness. He shows compassion towards the poor especially towards Fantine. By the end of the story, Valjean has become like a saint.

Even Eponine rose above her background, which is quite surprising considering who her parents are. The Thenardiers are Eponine’s parents and they are greedy, abusive, cruel, and mean. Once the family descends into poverty, they start mistreating Eponine more and they turn into criminals. But somehow, Eponine does not grow up to be like her parents. She does not want to be involved in her parent’s schemes, but she has to in order to survive. It was through her love for Marius that allows her to not be like her parent’s. She puts his needs first before her own even if it hurts her more and more because the love is unrequited.

Another quote in the bible that represents the show is “those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light”. This is very similar to the lyrics “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. The musical has a sense of hope in it even though it is always hard to find. There is hope when you see people rising above their backgrounds and through the students.

There are several times in the musical where God is mentioned, which starts in the opening song. The thing I love about “Les Mis” is how inspirational it is despite the show being depressing. Because you see the characters thriving in difficult situations, it gives you hope for your life. It touches your soul in a way that is very inspirational and that feeling makes you want to continue watching the musical. It is hard to believe I can learn about this musical through the bible. But it does make sense because the show has a large connection to spirituality and there are perfect passages, which represent the show. In fact, the more I learn about it, the more inspirational the show gets and the less sad it appears. It will always be tragic in my eyes because there will always be the death and the misery, but in desperate times, there is still compassion.This show has meant so much to me and has impacted me in ways that I never thought possible.

“To love another person is to see the face of God”- Les Mis