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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Reason why millions see Les Mis

Once again, another Les Mis post. Yes, I must admit I am obsessed as many know. Yes, I am also a Les Mis walking talking encyclopedia.

Les Mis is one of the most successful musicals in the world. I understand the sensation that it is and even I cannot describe why it is. Millions of people have experienced this epic, powerful, and emotional musical. Though tragic, it truly connects you to the material and the characters. Les Mis knows how to make you truly about every one of the characters  including characters you don’t like. It is just there is something about it that makes it so personal and meaningful at such a very deep level. It is truly about humanity, love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption. The complexity, honesty, insight, and truth the characters provide is so wonderful. As every fan knows, it is very hard to describe why Les Mis touches them so much.

There is just something about Les Mis that just makes it so special and personal. I know what that it is, but there is no words to describe. The show is wonderfully real and human. It is just so universal and reflects life in a grand and strong and powerful and epic way.

Possible spoilers:

The  Transformation of Jean Valjean is truly incredible. He is so complex and truly changes. He starts out as an angered, hardened and harsh man all because of being in prison for nineteen years just for stealing a loaf of bread for the sake of his family. Five of those nineteen years was just for stealing bread and the rest is for trying to escape.

He quickly figured out that even society does not trust him and treats him poorly. He was given kindness and mercy by the bishop who gives him a place to sleep and food to eat, but Valjean out of desperation steals the bishop’s silver. But the bishop forgave him and gifted him with a set of candlesticks. After the example the bishop set for Valjean, Valjean decided to start his life over and decided to live a life for the sake of the Lord. After breaking parole, Javert becomes obsessed over recapturing Valjean and sending him back to jail.

Fantine lives such a heartbreaking and tragic life. She has a young illegitimate daughter who she shows unconditional love towards. Cosette’s biological father abandoned Fantine and Cosette, which left Fantine in a very desperate situation. She ends up working at Valjean’s factory and is fired by the foreman after learning about Cosette. Fantine eventually becomes a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter. She becomes deathly ill and eventually an abusive customer harasses Fantine and as a matter of defense she attacks him. This incident causes Javert to want to arrest her, but Valjean pleads to Javert to take her to the hospital. As Fantine was dying, Valjean agrees to raise her daughter as his own.

Young Cosette was the first person Valjean ever loved. We learn that eight year old, Cosette, was terribly abused by the Thenardiers and Cosette hopes for a better life.  Valjean rescued her and it is such a challenge considering the fact that he is an ex-convict.

Another story to note is the young love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine. Both Eponine and Cosette love Marius, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. Marius continues to be oblivious to Eponine’s deep unrequited love, but Eponine finally confesses her love for him during her death scene at the barricades. As a matter of fact, Marius truly cares about Eponine and is the only light in Eponine’s miserable life. She has probably some of the worst parents ever, who don’t care or even love her. They terribly abuse her and she was raised to be a criminal and the only light in her life is Marius, which is why her unrequited love is so deep and extremely emotionally painful.

There is even the story of the barricade boys. They plan to start an uprising due to the weak government. This group is end by Enjolras, the most passionate of the group. This group of boys are college students.As noticed, it is very hard to describe the plot of Les Mis. It has multiple storylines. These storylines eventually fuse together. It can be hard to see beyond all of the heartbreak, misery, and suffering, but those parts become more worth it once you see the hope.

As for the songs, they wonderfully reflect the storyline. The songs are so powerful and grab you. All you have to do is hear the first note and you are automatically immersed into the storyline. It gives you the feeling that the show is so powerful. The songs reflect the deep emotional nature of the story and the souls and hearts of these wonderful, complex, and well-developed characters. These songs are covered with several emotions and the emotional impact is why Les Mis is so special and unique.

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

Why do you think Les Mis is so successful?

Realization of Les Mis

It is hard to believe how much impact Les Mis has had on my life. It all started in December of 2012. My parents took me to see the movie. The only thing I knew about the musical was “I Dreamed A Dream”, but I had no idea what the title meant. The moment the first character died, I was shocked. I realized at that moment that Les Mis was in fact a tragedy. I thought a tragedy could never exist in the world of musicals. I was so in shock at that moment and that emotion showed up throughout the rest of the show. At the end, I did not know if I enjoyed it or not. The next thing you know, I was digging deeper into the show and was interested in knowing more. I want to say I did enjoy it the first time despite all of the shock I faced.

After the second time I saw the movie, I was curious about why I always feel uplifted and inspired by the end of the show. I was able to realize that the musical is way more then tragedy. I was able to analyze the musical at such a deeper level. After the second viewing, I knew there was something special about Les Mis. I knew it had something to do with the incredible emotional impact due to brilliant songs. It has these themes of love, forgiveness, compassion, hope, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption, which is why the storyline is so inspirational. Before Les Mis, I thought tragedies were just plain sad and I just pushed the genre back due to that kind of thinking. Les Mis did teach me tragedies are way more then sad.

Les Mis changed musical theatre forever. It changed everything that I already knew. All of the emotions were transformed. It was like they were being reborn. There was already joy, excitement, love, and sad. All of those emotions became tested when Les Mis became an important part of my life. I never thought those emotions had more capability in them then I thought they did. Look at what sad did. That one truly was transformed and became deeper then ever before. It became even more powerful and even more layers began to exist. Whenever I listen or watch Les Mis either by movie, concert, stage show, or soundtrack, I am always reduced to tears. I am positively influenced by all of the emotions in Les Mis including the negative emotions.

Les Mis has characters that are so well crafted. Some of the characters have a wonderful arc. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, was able to became a compassionate, honest, and saintlike man despite being an ex-convict. He kept on always doing the right thing even if it could possibly risk his life. Javert, the antagonist, may seem like a villain, but in reality he really isn’t. He just sees the world in black and white and is too obsessive about capturing Valjean after breaking parole.

If you want to look at villains, then look at those abusive, greedy, and cruel Thenardiers. They are the characters you love to hate, but provide the much needed comic relief. You end up falling in love with Gavroche and Eponine, their children.

Eponine is such a loving, brave, and loyal teenager who has to live through poverty, abuse, and unrequited love. She will do anything for Marius even though he will never love her back. She risks her life several times for him. Fantine is also put through unfortunate circumstances, but she manages to thrive through showing unconditional love toward her daughter, Cosette.

As a child, Cosette is so strong due to all of the abuse she faced and once an adult, she is extremely protective and sheltered due to her adopted father, Valjean, being an ex-convict. She may seem somewhat boring, but she is quite curious. Marius is one of the student revolutionaries who is conflicted between his love for Cosette and his passion for what he believes in. He is capable of showing compassion and that is seen through how he treats Eponine. Enjolras and the students are so passionate about their uprising and stay passionate towards the end even when they feel hopeless knowing that they will lose. They want to make a change due to the weak government and they are so close towards each other.

I can’t even pick my favorite character or song from the musical. However, my favorite solo from the musical is “On My Own”. Thinking of Eponine, I love “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is one of the most touching songs and one of the best scenes at the barricades.The songs are so powerful, passionate, and inspiring. Some of the songs have epic quality such as “Look Down”. They truly show honest truth, insight, and vulnerability towards the characters. This show is filled with several emotions and it moves me each and every time.

Les Mis teaches many things. It teaches that you can raise above your background, that there is hope in the midst of darkness and inspires you to become a better person. Learning to play Les Mis on the piano gave me a bigger appreciation of the songs. Due to my love for the show, I was able to play with emotion and passion. Les Mis deserves to be the sensation that it is. It is quite unique and special. It is so inspiring even though it is heartbreaking. Les Mis truly taught me how to embrace the negative emotions in musicals. I was able to learn about musical emotions through the perspective of tragedy.

Realize