Letter to Les Mis Characters

Dear Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Eponine, Marius, Cosette, Monsiuer and Madame Thenardier, Enjolras, and rest of the students,

All of you are an important part of my life. You all create such a heartfelt and inspirational story. You all showed me just how amazing a tragic tale could be and that tragedies are way more than being sad. Now I will talk about you all individually.

Major Spoilers:

Jean Valjean, you are one of my favorite literary and musical protagonists. I love the spiritual transformation you take throughout the tale. You taught me that people can raise above their upbringing. You showed me just how one person can impact someone’s life and that is something you learned from the bishop. I love that you promised to raise Fantine’s daughter as your own. I am glad you rescued Cosette and gave her a better life. I love the compassion you show to others. Love that you rescued Marius due to the love you love for Cosette. Boy there is so much I could say about your character. Your redemption is so strong and glad you got to die with Cosette and Marius by your side.

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Javert, you belong in Les Mis despite the fact that I am not a big fan of your character mainly because I love Jean Valjean. I cannot believe you always believed that people would never change. You showed me that there are people that do see the world in black and white. Still, you are very hard to find ground with just because of how complex you are as a character. All you wanted to do was recapture Valjean and send him back to prison. I wish you had realized that Valjean did become a better person. But you still fit in Les Mis. In a way I like you because you are one of the most complex literary antagonists and you do belong in Les Mis.

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Fantine, oh my, your story is so hard to watch because it is so heartbreaking. I cannot believe that the biological father of your daughter abandoned you and left you to be a single mom. I wish you did not leave Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers because they treated her horribly. Boy, at the factory, I wish those factory women never read that letter. Still you had to turn to prostitution in order to provide for Cosette. I love the love you have for Cosette. I wish you had you realized that the Thenardiers were scamming you out of money. I am so glad that Valjean came to the rescue and promised to raise your daughter as his own. He showed you compassion as you were dying and at least you were able to die in peace and comfort after Valjean made that promise.

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Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, I completely hate you, but at the same time I love the two of you. You provided the much needed comic relief, but at the same time hated you for how you treated Cosette when she was living there. You horribly abused her and made her a servant of your inn. You even were scamming Fantine out of money spreading false lies about Cosette. Well, Valjean came for Cosette and rescued her, but then you started horribly abusing Eponine and kicked Gavroche out of your house. Boy you are so neglectful and unloving towards your children. You raised Eponine to be a criminal and a thief. In a weird way, you made me realize just how fortunate I am to be living in a loving family.

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Eponine, you are one of my favorite characters in the musical. As a child, you appeared to be loved by your parents, but things were eventually going to get darker and even worse. Your parents horribly abused you and raised you to be a thief and a criminal so you lived a very horrible and dark life. Boy, at least you found light through Marius, the only good thing in your life and the only person who showed you kindness and that is what moved you to love him. At least you had him in your life even though he didn’t love you. Still, I love the way you respond to your unrequited love. You continued to stand by Marius’ side and would do anything for him so you risked your life several times. I love that you died in his arms and even though you were shot, you were at peace because you were in the arms of the man you loved. Still, you did not have many good things in your life and you were able to raise above your upbringing. Boy, there is so much I could say about you and why I love you.

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Cosette, I am so glad Jean Valjean rescued you from the Thenardiers and you were so strong as a child and always hoped you would be rescued. You ended up being in better hands with Jean Valjean. He was such an incredible father even though you and him were always on the run from Javert. Still, I love that you represent hope and light in Les Mis. You and Marius make a wonderful couple. That helps bring even more hope and light to the tale. I cannot believe that your adopted father died at the end, but at least you still had Marius. You may not be as developed as some of the other characters, but I love what you represent.

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Marius, I love the relationship you have with the students, Eponine, and Cosette. You were a revolutionary part of the students. In the case of Eponine, I love that you were in her life because she needed it because you gave light in her life. So glad that you showed your kindness and were a good friend towards her. Yes, she eventually dies and that leaves you heartbroken, but I am glad you stayed brave and stayed by her side as she lay dying from a gunshot wound. On top of that trauma, the rest of your friends died, but at least you were rescued by Jean Valjean, Cosette’s adopted father. You are such a sweet, kind, and compassionate person. You and Cosette are a beautiful couple and she helped you recover from the trauma you faced at the barricade.

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Enjolras, Gavroche, and the students, I love that you stand up for what you believe in. Enjolras, you are so passionate towards the uprising and you make such a wonderful leader. I love how all you take in Gavroche and you were like his family. Every single one of you stayed passionate towards the end even when you knew the uprising will most likely fail. I just love the brotherly love you have for each other. Still, I could on and on about why I love you all.

What are your thoughts on the Les Mis characters?

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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?

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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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

 

Analysis of Javert

Major Spoilers

-1815

In Les Mis, Javert is the antagonist. We first meet him in the very first scene. Javert is that kind of antagonist that is hard to get to know. He overlooks the prison where Valjean was. The two automatically have a strong hatred towards each other. Javert believes that “once a criminal, always a criminal”. He strongly believes Valjean will always be a criminal and does not feel like Valjean will change his ways. Javert follows the motto throughout the entire musical.

-1823

Valjean has broken parole and it becomes Javert’s main duty to recapture Valjean and send him to prison for life and this obsesses him. Coincidentally Javert becomes policeman at the same town Valjean (AKA Monsieur Madeline) became mayor of. Javert does suspect that Monsieur Madeline is in fact Jean Valjean. In one scene, we discover that Javert is not capable of compassion or mercy. Fantine just attacked a man in self-defense and he was planning to arrest her for six months just because she attacked the man and because she is a prostitute. Javert ignores the fact that she is seriously ill and that she even has a child. Even when Monsieur Madeline intervened, Javert still shows Fantine no mercy. In the runaway cart scene, that is when Javert begins to suspect that Monsieur Madeline is Jean Valjean. The strength that the mayor shows when lifting the cart reminds Javert of the strength of Jean Valjean and tells Monsieur Madeline all of this. We get a bit of Javert’s background during the confrontation number, which happens after Fantine’s death and soon after Javert discovered Jean Valjean. We learn that Javert was born inside a jail, which means he was raised around criminals. He sees the world in black and white and always believes he is doing the right thing. He does not even see Valjean’s transformation at all and still believe that Jean Valjean will always steal.

-1832

Years pass again and Javert has lost information about where Valjean is. He is now policeman in Paris. Even in 1832, Javert’s main goal throughout the story is recapturing Valjean. It is through Stars where we discover what Javert’s views are when it comes to the law. Javert strictly follows the law and sees it as his religion in a way. Due to his views in the law, it makes him blind to fact that convicts can raise above their background and can change.

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Javert decides to act as a spy during the uprising and pretends to be on the student’s side and says he is going to spy on the enemy. But he gets caught by Gavroche and the students capture him. This is when Valjean’s and Javert’s paths meet again. Valjean arrives at the barricades to protect Marius and the two meet again. The students give Valjean the duty to execute Javert and that is what Javert expects Valjean to do. But Javert is surprised when Valjean decides to let him go and even forgive him. He finally is able to come to his senses and realizes his mistakes, but even this act of mercy that Valjean shows Javert still does not allow him to show compassion or even forgiveness.

This is when Javert’s life comes crashing down on him. Javert has one last opportunity to capture Valjean, which is when Valjean emerges from the sewers with a wounded Marius and surprisingly Javert lets Valjean go. Javert is really struggling at this point. He understands now that Valjean has changed, but due to his views on the law, he feels like Valjean should be sent to prison. But he also feels like that isn’t right because Valjean is capable of mercy. Due to his internal struggle, Javert commits suicide.

Javert is that kind of character that is so hard to get to know. Even though I don’t like Javert, I still think he is one of the most complex and most interesting antagonistic characters in musical theatre. For the longest time ever, I never seemed to actually care about Javert even his fate. But when I saw the show in the West End, I finally felt something for the character especially during the suicide scene, but I still don’t like him. I usually am the kind of person who dislikes antagonists.

He really is not a villain like so many people think. He just has this very strict view of the world and sees the world in black and white. He feels a void in his heart when it comes to mercy, compassion and forgiveness. His world comes tumbling down on him when Valjean challenged Javert’s way of thinking. When Javert saw that Valjean has changed, Javert is quite confused. He sees the law as his religion and strictly follows it. He does not even seem to care that Fantine has a child and only sees her as this prostitute and does not believe her story when she tells him about the child. He cannot even receive the forgiveness or mercy that Valjean shows him. Javert is one of the most well written antagonists through musicals.

Tomorrow is Fantine.

Analysis of Les Mis Characters

I did this once on my blog already. I analyzed the principal Les Mis characters, but they felt more like plot summaries than actual analysis’. For the next couple of days, I will analyze the characters of Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, and Enjolras/Gavroche/the students. Les Mis is just that kind of musical that is hard to pick a favorite character and where you learn to care about all the characters including ones you don’t like.

Universal World of Les Misérables

So as long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century-the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light-are unsolved; as long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world-in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use

-Preface of Les Misérables

The quote above is from the preface of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables. The quote perfectly shows how universal his book is. It is so true that as long as poverty and injustice exists, the book will stay universal. The storyline feels so human and the length of the book is also what makes it such a masterpiece.There is a reason why this book is a classic and why it has become so successful. The book even was turned into a musical, which followed the book’s footsteps of success.

The songs, plot, and character are brilliant and all three are well-crafted together and the songs know how to capture the extreme power and emotion of the characters and storylines. “Les Mis” takes you on an extreme, inspirational and powerful journey. It does make you feel heartbroken and hurt several times, but hope, compassion, love, and forgiveness is always there. Even though the storyline is so tragic, it is still an inspirational musical. You learn to truly care about every single one of the characters even the ones you do not like.

There is a reason why the musical evokes such a powerful, personal, deep, epic, and emotional response in people. It is such a soulful and emotional musical and is highly universal. It has themes that resonate with people that are still shown in society today. One of the biggest themes Les Mis has is love itself, which is shown in many different forms. There is love for a child, love for a parent, love for friends, love for a country, romantic love: both requited and unrequited, and there is also the love for the musical itself. These different forms of love show why the quote, “to love another person is to see the face of God” represents the musical so well.

It has this wonderful batch of characters. It has the ex-convict, Jean Valjean and his journey of becoming a better person and his path to redemption. It has the obsessive policeman, Javert, who is trying to recapture Valjean after breaking parole. It has the tragic Fantine, who will do anything for her daughter, Cosette. Cosette represents light and hope in the midst of tragedy and falls in love with Marius. It has the revolutionary student, Marius, who falls in love with Cosette. It has the brave and lonely Eponine, who falls in love with Marius unrequitedly and who will do anything for the one she loves. It has the funny, but abusive Thenardiers, who are the characters you learn to love to hate and hate to love. It has the passionate Enjolras, the leader of the uprising, and the other members of the friends of the abc. It has the heroic and unloved Gavroche, who spends time with the students. It has all of these wonderful characters who have very different journeys and whose stories wonderfully connect to each other.

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Jean Valjean

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Javert

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Fantine

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Marius, Cosette, Eponine

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Enjolras and Students

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Gavroche

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Thenardiers

The songs in Les Mis wonderfully reflect the storyline. It evokes such a wonderful response in people. The songs have so much depth, insight, and truth along with power and strength. The musical is entirely sung-through and the songs reflect the incredible brilliance of Victor Hugo’s novel. There is just something about Les Mis that makes it the sensation that it is. It is a combination of the songs, story, and characters that make it so successful. The songs are brilliant, the characters are so brilliant and well-crafted, the story is so powerful, inspirational and tragic.

Why do you think the musical and book is universal?

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