What Makes Javert and Valjean Opposites?

For Western Civilization II, my hardest class this semester, we had the choice of two optional papers, which gives us a better chance of passing. I struggled with coming up with an idea for the first paper and I got help from the teacher and he saw that I was having a hard time with it. When I told him I  wanted to focus the next paper on Romanticism, a topic I was strongly familiar with due to loving Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. I decided to talk about how the Enlightenment thinkers and the Romantics view imperfection differently. My teacher decided to let me combine both papers into one, which means I was required to write more, which would be around 2400 words.

I had a Les Misérables section. I kept on seeing references that Javert and Valjean were opposites and I never understood why. My paper brought up how one of these characters  show how the Enlightenments thinkers were flawed in their thinking and how Romantic thinkers look at imperfection. This paper finally made me start to understand why the two are opposites.

Possible Spoilers Ahead: 

In Victor Hugo’s, Les Misérables, he used the contrasting characters of Javert and Jean Valjean to show how the Enlightenment is flawed and how emotions and imperfections are important. These two characters are opposites, and each want to do what is right, but they have different ideas of what that means.

Javert is the antagonist of Les Misérables, and he is a product of the Enlightenment. He has a belief that “once a criminal always a criminal”, and he sees the world in black and white and right and wrong. He does not understand forgiveness, love, compassion or mercy. When Fantine attacks a man in self-defense, Javert plans to arrest her even though she pleads for mercy. After telling him she has a child, he shows no mercy or compassion and sees her as just a prostitute who has broken the law. Also he cannot forgive Jean Valjean even though he has become a better person, nor can he accept Valjean’s forgiveness of him. His ideal of perfection is so extreme that he eventually commits suicide rather than accept human imperfection and celebrate life’s emotions.

Jean Valjean is the protagonist and is in contrast with Javert. He is an ex -convict, who stole to feed his family, and he was unfairly sentenced for nineteen years. While he did break the law, he was harshly judged by an unforgiving society, and being in prison led Valjean to be filled with hate and anger. But when Valjean stole the bishop’s silverware, the bishop said to Valjean, “do not forget, never forget that you have promised to become an honest man” and  “Jean Valjean my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdrew it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God” (Hugo, “Les Misérables”, 99). After the bishop’s actions, Valjean learned how to show compassion and love to others. He ended up showing compassion to Fantine by preventing her from being arrested and agreeing to raise her child as she was dying. Both the bishop and Valjean showed compassion by accepting those with imperfections, and they are willing to let emotions rule their actions. As a result, they expressed a better sense of humanity than Javert.


The Talents of the Actors and Actresses I Have Seen

One thing that really impresses me is seeing the talent I have seen on stage when I have seen musicals. Some of the ones I have seen are understudies and standbys and those can really impress me. I have had understudies for characters such as Eponine, Christine, Jean Valjean, Elphaba, Leading Player and Katherine Plumber. Those actors have to work harder than anyone else. I just cannot believe how talented all of the different actors and actresses I have had over the years. I have seen more actors than actresses mainly because of Newsies. Newsies has a cast of mostly males and that is why I have seen more actors.

Les Mis was the last musical I saw and I loved that cast. You had the very powerful and passionate ensemble with some talented principals. It was lead by Nick Cartell and he was wonderful as Jean Valjean and his “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and truly sounded like a prayer and he quiet enough for what the song required and strong enough for what the song required. Another standout was Joshua Grosso as Marius and he brought this unique nature of awkwardness to the role and of all of the actors in the love triangle, he was the strongest and I never expect Marius to be the strongest actors because I always expect Eponnine to be the strongest actor, but this time it wasn’t the case. Jillian Butler’s Cosette somehow was able to connect to Joshua’s charming but awkward Marius. My Eponine, Talia Simone Robinson (understudy), was impressive. The fact that she was an understudy made her work harder than anybody else. She had some impressive scenes and some scenes needed some work. She was very playful around Marius and was quite strong during “A Heart Full of Love” and she was very believable during “A Little Fall of Rain”.

Matt Shingledecker was my Enjolras and he truly brought the passion and leader side of Enjolras. Even the ensemble was very talented. They were so epic passionate and powerful. The ensemble is very impressive when it comes to musicals and they are a huge part of a show: after all they take up most of the cast.

During Rent, I was impressed with the actors. Kaleb Wells brought out quite an emotional “One Song Glory” and showed his unwillingness to get into a relationship with Mimi. Lyndie Moe, my Maureen brought out her craziness perfectly and she made me laugh during “Over The Moon”.

Newsies was a musical I saw August 2016. It was lead by Joey Barriero, my Jack Kelly. It is hard to describe why I loved Jack. I loved how he showed his bond to Newsies especially his bond to  Crutchie. He brought out the inner conflict that Jack eventually went through. He was able to bring out the emotion felt in “Santa Fe” and the song to me was innocently sad. I don’t know if the innocence felt in the song was how Joey wanted to portray the song or if it was because this was my first time seeing the show. The actors in this show were triple threats. They were very impressive in the dance. They were flipping about two or three times in a row, dancing on newspapers among other amazing tricks and able to act and sing at the same time. The dancing was mind-blowing. The picture below is Joey Barreiro as Jack.


Highlighting all of the talented actors will take a while. By showing some of the actors, you can tell that I have seen a lot of talented actors over the years. I still have not yet seen the same actor or actress in more than one  lead role. I am glad that each time I see a musical, I am exposed to new actors. I am always thinking how on earth have they memorized everything and they make it seem easy, but in reality it is not easy. It takes a lot of work and acting it much harder than it seems. They are doing the best they can and when you get an understudy or standby, you can get a bit nervous, but I alway regret it.

For example, Mary Kate Morrisey (standby) as Elphaba embodied everything about Elphaba, but brought something new. It felt like she was the main Elphaba. Another understudy that comes to mind to Adam Bayjou as Jean Valjean. He was my West End Jean Valjean, and he played the role so well that I forgot I was actually watching an understudy. So respect the standbys and understudies. You have no idea how much harder they have to work.

How Costumes Play a Role In Creating Character

One aspect that helps you get to know the character is through their costumes. What exactly do I mean by this? To explain, I will give some examples below.

Below is Enjolras’ vest. During “One Day More” and during act II, he wears this vest. It helps us realize he is the leader of the students and the most passionate. It makes him stand out among everyone at the barricade.


Below you will see Elphaba in her act II dress. In act I, her outfits show she is more innocent and not as mature. But in act II, her outfit looks much more mature and show how she has matured from act I to act II. I love how it looks so good with her skin. It just complements the green so wear.


Another example is from the outfits Eponine wears a lot of browns in her outfit. That is the color of the skirt in act I and the same color she wears in her act II costumes and in her act II costume, her pants, hat and coat are brown. The fact that she does the same color shows that she is poor. Her outfits also are dirty and this helps signify that she is living in poverty and that is an important part of her character.

For Valjean, his costumes help show his character arc. From this dirty costume in the opening to what he is wearing at the barricade shows his transformation. In his first costume, he looks like a convict. Than when time passes, his costume changes. He no longer looks like a convict and you can start to see his costumes representing his journey to redemption.

Glinda’s outfits during her time at Shiz show that she is girlie girl. The outfit below shows her outfit during the dance that Fiyero arranges. It is very pretty and is pink. She wears more than one dress in the show. This outfit below helps show that Glinda is young and makes you know she is a girly girl during her time at Shiz.


I don’t know what it is, but something about Jack’s outfit that makes you know he is the leader of the Newsies. I feel like it is a bit different than the other Newsies. But something about his outfit also makes you know he is a dreamer and a romantic.


Do you think costumes help a role in developing character?

Wrap-Up of Top Three Actor/Actresses in Les Mis

The past couple of days I have talked about my top three actors and actresses that I have seen in Les Mis.

It was an interesting series. It really showed just how differently these actors and actresses portray these characters. I was able to explore much more of some of these actors and see what they brought to the role. The fact that these actors and actresses come from more than one cast does show how talented they are. I loved how I was able to mention understudies because it shows that they have a lot of talent and those understudies were Adam Bayjou (Jean Valjean) and Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine). It was interesting who I decided to pick and I ended up with. It was interesting that every single character used my  principal cast on my West End and Greeville. I did not realize that when I first started the series, I would love it as much as I did.

My favorite of each character: not will have one since I can’t decide

Jean Valjean: Can’t pick at the moment

Javert: Jeremy Secomb- only Javert I could feel any kind of sympathy for the character so that is a plus to his Javert.


Fantine: Can’t decide

Cosette: Jillian Butler- she has a beautiful soprano voice and works perfectly with Joshua Grosso to form a quite adorable couple.


Marius: Joshua Grosso- he brought out this unique awkwardness that I never saw in Marius. I never knew Marius to be awkward until I saw Joshua. He just really shines as Marius in so many ways.


Eponine: Samantha Barks- She was able to bring out the heartbreak found in unrequited love and  was able to show just how lonely and alone Eponine is and because she was my first one, she is my favorite Eponine.


Thenardiers: Phil Daniels and Kathy Secombe- they were able to be very funny while at the same time show their darker side.

Enjolras: Can’t decide


Top Three Jean Valjean Actors

My series starts with my top three actors who have played Jean Valjean. I started with Jean Valjean because he is the protagonist of Les Mis. I am picking from the movie, 25th anniversary concert, Community College cast, West End cast and Greenville cast.

Criteria is as follows:

  1. These are only opinions. I am not necessarily going to talk about actors that people are familiar with. You do not have to agree with all my choices since they are just opinions
  2. Not going to leave out understudies. I am not going to leave off an understudy just because they are an understudy. Going to include them if they are good enough to be in the top three.
  3. Based off of different things such as their voice, how they might say a certain word, how well the emotions are portrayed, dynamics, among other things

Alfie Boe:

I saw him in the 25th anniversary concert. When I saw him, at the time, he was my favorite Jean Valjean. He was one of the standouts in it. I watched the concert back in 2013. His version of “Bring Him Home” blew me away. He was such a powerful Jean Valjean. I wish I could say more about why he is in the top three, but can’t seem to figure out how.


Adam Bayjou:

As I said in the introduction, I am not going to leave off understudies just because they are understudies. I was in the West End experiencing my dream and before entering the theatre, it said I had Adam Bayjou as Jean Valjean and I was thinking something around the lines of “wait, I have an understudy for Jean Valjean, the protagonist, and I am fulfilling my dream”. But Adam Bayjou was so wonderful that I completely forgot I was watching an understudy and that to me is real talent. Valjean’s transformation truly showed through Adam’s Jean Valjean. He was very harsh and angry during “What Have I Done”, but he also showed the compassion shown by the bishop in that number as well. I just have no words to describe how talented he was. The dynamic Adam’s Valjean had with Jeremy Secomb’s Javert is really strong, which is another reason why I love Adam so much as Jean Valjean.

Below is a picture of me meeting Adam at stage door.


Nick Cartell:

Nick was the last Valjean I saw. He is currently playing the lead on the North American tour of Les Misérables. I saw him as Jean Valjean in Greenville when I went with my school. His version of “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and sounded like a prayer and was quiet enough for what the scene required and strong enough for what the scene required. He was warm and caring around Cosette. He even was quiet enough during his death scene. So Nick is one of my all-time favorite actors who played Jean Valjean.

Plus to note: He was one of the three standouts in this production


This was fun actually. This wasn’t a very difficult choice. My community college Valjean I couldn’t consider because I don’t remember his portrayal. Then you have Hugh Jackman from the movie: I can easily say that Alfie, Adam and Nick were better than he was.

Tomorrow: picking my top three for Javert. This one shall be an interesting one.

Les Mis Milestone

Even though I first saw the movie of Les Mis six years ago in December, my journey of it really began about March of 2013. I said that because after that movie I really did not know if I liked that musical or not due to being shocked and confused that it was a tragedy, but despite the confusion, I still started researching. However, my love for the show really kicked off five years ago when I gave the movie a second chance.

Ever since the movie, the musical has come a long way. I still continue to watch the movie till this day and still not sick and tired of it. My first portrayals of all these characters come from the movie. The 2nd time I was able to calm down and not be shocked by it being a tragedy. My understanding of the emotions in Les Mis and my understanding of the characters has deepened over these five years. One of the things I remembered about the second time was that it was when I fell in love with Eponine due to Samantha Barks portrayal. She would become my favorite Eponine. When I found out, she played Eponine in the 25th anniversary concert, I decided to watch that concert.

Not only did this movie make me fall in love with Eponine, but it also made me fall in love with some of the other characters. After all, this was my first full experience with Les Mis. It was where I believe I fell in love with Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Gavroche and the students and Fantine. I started to fall in love with Fantine due to Anne Hathaway’s devastating portrayal of Fantine. It was where I began to appreciate Marius, I think. I have watched this movie over 50 or so times I think: it feels like so much more. I still get emotional watching this movie and that is part of why the songs are so brilliant and why I am not yet sick and tired of Les Mis.


Ever since the movie, I have researched the musical a lot. My love for Les Mis eventually turned my love for musicals into a passion. I am currently obsessed with the musical. I first saw the stage show in 2013, which was a community college production. I ushered twice for that production and saw it once with my family. It may have been a community college production, but it felt professional. My dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End was created all because of seeing the stage show for the first time.


It was December of 2013 when I finally decided to watch the 25th anniversary concert. Like I said earlier, I watched this concert because Samantha Barks, my favorite Eponine, played Eponine in this concert. Alfie Boe ended up blowing me away as Jean Valjean and he became one of my favorite Jean Valjeans’ and at this point he was my favorite Jean Valjean. Like expected, Samantha Barks was wonderful in this concert. Ramin Karimloo would be such a passionate Enjolras. So I also own this concert so my Les Mis collection keeps on growing. This concert is worth watching due to an incredible cast. Plus, it has the Valjean quartet at the end, “One Day More” sung by the original cast, and students singing the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing”.


My dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End came true soon after developing my dream for wanting to see it in London. My family was going up to England in 2015 to go on a pilgrimage with our church. The choir was going to be in residence at Bristol Cathedral and that pilgrimage started in London. So in 2015, my family went up two days early, which I found out in 2014. That was when I started convincing my parents to take me to see Les Mis in London. I remember in June sitting in my room and my mom texted me emojis of the French flag and musical notes and I do not know what she was talking about. She told me to check my email. When I found out I was going to be seeing Les Mis in London, I ran up to my mom and started crying. My dream was going to come true and that day was July 30th, 2015.

I remember on July 30th, it took a while to find the theatre. When I saw the theatre, it didn’t seem real that I was going to see Les Mis. Even when I bought souvenirs and the most surprising thing about the UK is that I had to buy my playbill. Back in the US, the playbills were handed at the door, but this time I had to buy my playbill. On the way to the auditorium, I found a sign that said I had an understudy for Valjean and that was going to be Adam Bayjou. It was crazy because I was in London fulfilling my dream, but yet was going to be an understudy for Jean Valjean.

I remember hearing the first notes of the orchestra, which were so powerful, and realizing this dream was becoming reality just by hearing those notes, I know the production was going to much more than expected. Not only did the cast including the ensemble were brilliant, but the staging was as well. The revolve helped with time change. I loved seeing the building of the barricade along with several other barricade scenes such as it turning when Gavroche climbed over or it turning after the final battle and you could see all the dead bodies on it and singing a light on Enjolras.


But Adam Bayjou was going to turn out to be one of the best Valjean’s I ever saw. I remember sitting in my seat and looking at the set and realizing how close I was to the stage. My mom wanted to make sure I got the best possible seats. So we were nine rows back from the stage. My other actors were Jeremy Secomb as Javert, Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine, Zoe Doano as Cosette, Rob Houchen as Marius, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Eponine, Phil Daniels as Monsieur Thenardier, Kathy Secombe as Madame Thenadier and Bradley Jaden as Enjolras.

Back to Adam Bayjou. His version of Jean Valjean made me forget I was watching an understudy. Jeremy Secomb would make me actually connect to Javert and that during his suicide scenes and that really was strong talent because I don’t like Javert. This was the strongest Javert and Jean Valjean  dynamic I have ever seen. Even the love triangle had such a strong dynamic. When Marius first bumped into Cosette with Eponine watching them, that was played so well that I was feeling so many emotions and the same happened during “A Heart Full of Love”. I was shocked to feel anger during “On My Own”, but eventually realized it does fit and due to that new emotion, I got new insight into Eponine.

This cast was quite brilliant, epic and passionate. I can’t describe the talent I found in this cast that well. That same summer I read the unabridged book, which did have an effect on the West End production. The book may have been a brick, but it made me appreciate the musical even more. After the production ended, I stood up right away and usually that doesn’t happen whenever I see a musical. Usually I wait until I see my favorite actor, but this time I stood up right away, but this time I stood up right away which really goes to show just how talented this cast is. This cast will always be special because of my dream to see Les Mis in the West End. After the show, I actually went to stage and met Adam Bayjou and he signed my playbill.

Below is a review from seeing Les Mis in the West End. I wrote this view a couple months after seeing it in London so it may not be fully accurate, but still is quite close.



The picture above is from my 2nd Les Mis party. One of my mom’s friends is a big Les Mis fan and she decided to have a Les Mis party due to my love for it. The first year, the party was a surprise and my mom tricked me by telling me to wear my Les Mis shirt which says “Keep Calm and Talk about Les Mis”. After all, this shirt was a shirt my friends made me for one of my birthdays. My mom told me that her friend wanted to watch the movie of Les Mis. But it would turn out to be party so I was dressed as just a fan. With Karaoke, I sang “On My Own” and I was called Eponine for the rest of the night.

The next year 2017, since I knew about the Les Mis party, I was able to dress up as one of the characters, and I decided to dress up as Eponine. I found all of these pieces in just one trip to Goodwill. The makeup, which I used as dirt, came from the makeup kit I bought for Stage Makeup, a class I took in Fall 2016. It was the shadow from the kit and it was brown and was perfect to finish the Eponine look. In order to look like her, I had to get myself “dirty” since she was a girl living in poverty. I was still young enough to dress like her and she become one of my favorite characters from the musical.

Below is my link



The picture above is from my 5th time I saw Les Mis. I had a choice last year to see it in Greenville with my school or in Charlotte with my mom. It would be my fifth time seeing the stage show, but my 1st time seeing it on tour. I wanted to know how different the 25th anniversary production was from the version I saw in London. Once again, I would have an understudy, but this time it was for Eponine and that was Talia Simone Robinson. I was much further back from the stage since I was seeing from the balcony, but I got to see everything. The Peace Center is such a wonderful place to watch musicals in the United States. The standouts of this production were Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, Joshua Grosso as Marius and Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras. The other principal characters were Josh Davis as Javert, Mellissa Mitchell as Fantine, Jillian Butler as Cosette, Anthony Crane as Monsieur Thenardier and Allison Guinn as Madame Thenardier. By seeing Les Mis in the balcony, I was able to pick up on how well these actors could project and I could hear everything even when they were quiet.

Even though I missed the revolve, this staging was wonderful. They used Victor Hugo’s paintings in the background but the problem was they never put up the years for the different time changes. Using the paintings put a bit more color in the set. At times the paintings would be moving. You could tell the vast size of Paris. You would be watching a part of a scene and than the set opens up, and that effect makes you get a feeling of how big Paris is.

About my standouts, Joshua Grosso stood out due to the awkwardness he brought to Marius, which made me love Marius more and he matched perfectly to Jillian Butler’s Cosette. He even portrayed “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” in a heartbreaking way. At the end of “A Little Fall of Rain”, Joshua said the last word in a heartbreaking way and waited about five or ten seconds until he said it as if he was stunned that Eponine died. With Nick Cartell, his “Bring Him Home” was so soulful and was quiet enough and strong enough for what the scene required. Considering the fact I was an emotional wreck watching Les Mis a 5th time, it shows that I still have a wonderful emotional connection to Les Mis and that I am not yet done with seeing the stage show of Les Mis.

If you want more about my experience with this production, below is a link to that post.



Above is a picture from Halloween. I may have dressed up as Eponine for 2017’s Les Mis party, but because I had all the pieces, I decided to be Eponine for Halloween. This time I made myself “dirtier” than I did for for the party. I started getting into costume around three and stayed dressed as Eponine until after 9:00. I literally went to dinner dressed as her and went to the Gathering, my school’s student-led worship service, dressed as Eponine. Several people had no idea who I was so I had to explain. After the Gathering, there was a bonfire and I went to that. It was a bit cold, but I went around school dressed as Eponine without a coat to truly look like the character. Eponine is a girl living in extreme poverty so I had to show that, which was shown through the “dirt” and not wearing a coat.


Above is a bear from this year’s Candy and Critter’s event. I never named a stuffed animal after a musical character. When I looked at the different stuffed animals to make, I came across this bear, and it reminded me of Eponine. It had the right color scheme and it had heart-shaped patches with stitches around the outside. Eponine tends to wear costumes with a brown color-scheme. Those heart patches with the stitches around the outside reminded me of a broken heart.

Below is a link about the day I made Eponine. It is quite special having a stuffed animal named after a favorite musical character.



Below is a link explaining my entire Les Mis collection.


As this post shows, I have gone on quite a journey with Les Mis. Les Mis is a show that changed the way I view musicals forever. It taught me that tragic musicals exist and that tragedies go beyond their tragic side. Les Mis for example has a beautiful underlying spirituality with themes such as compassion, forgiveness, love, hope, humanity, sacrifice and redemption. It was my first introduction to heartbreak in musicals. It would impact many other musicals. I noticed that because of Les Mis, emotions are much easier to pick up on. It may have been five years, but I already know so much about the characters and the storyline. I know about interesting parts about the story such as the mirror images of Eponine and Cosette. I understand why certain things had to happen to make the story work such as why the love triangle is set up the way it is and why so many characters had to die and son on. So this post may be long, but gives a good view of my entire journey with Les Mis. I still cannot believe that I saw the stage show in 2013, 2015, and 2017 because there is a bit of a pattern there. Those years make up 5x seeing the stage show.

Reviewing the Songs of Les Mis songs

This will be mega post. I decided to put together all the Les Mis songs and analyze each one of them in one post. So due to that, this will be a spoiler heavy post. I will not do all the bits of the musical, but have many of them.

Work Song:

This song opens up the show. This is when we understand the harsh conditions that prisoners have to experience. We are first introduced to Jean Valjean, the protagonist, in this number. We hear the prisoners anger and we can just see how extreme the work the prisoners all have to do. We learn that Valjean was in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family and was sentenced for five years, but fourteen extra for trying to escape. Even though it was his time to leave prison, he was sent to live the rest of his life on parole. We get to meet Javert, the antagonist, later on in the number. We learn that Javert doesn’t really care about Valjean’s story at all.


What Have I Done:

This song is an epiphany song for Jean Valjean. Valjean was just shown an incredible amount of mercy in the previous moment. The bishop let Valjean stay there for the night and gave him a meal, but Valjean stole some silver, but the bishop forgave him. This song is when he reflects on his life as a prisoner and what he learned from the bishop. He realizes he has to become a better person, but to do that means breaking parole. He thinks about the mercy the bishop gave him, which taught him the ways of the Lord. Valjean decides to live by the example set buy the bishop. He expresses the guilt and anger he had of being a prisoner and expresses the compassion shown by the bishop. So this was a huge turning point in Valjean’s life.


At the End of the Day: Time advances to 1823

So much is going on in this number. First you are introduced to the poor and you learn their conditions and it is not looking good for them. They seem to be treated unfairly. Then you advance into the factory and that is where you first are introduced to Fantine, a struggling young single mother. The factory women are spreading rumors about her and steal a letter and all the factory workers learn that she has a daughter, which turns into a fight between Fantine and a factory worker. The foreman is the one to settle things and the women convince him to fire her and they do. This song illustrates how unfairly both women and the poor are treated in 1823. So it is quite dangerous to have an illegitimate child. So it is a number where sadness and heartbreak and desperation are expressed.


I Dreamed a Dream:

This is Fantine’s solo number. Here you learn about Fantine’s background. You learn that Cosette’s biological father abandoned her and her daughter, Cosette. You learn how naive she once was and she still is a bit naive. She is devastated that she no longer has any income in order to pay for Cosette. She had dreams once, but now they are shattered. This is a very heartbreaking number and now Fantine has to do whatever she can do to pay for Cosette. The melody is extremely beautiful and such a wonderful song to listen to.


Lovely Ladies:

This song is the hardest song and scene to watch and listen to. This number is when you really get to see how desperate Fantine is. She sells her locket, her hair, and herself to get money for Cosette. This is when she turns to prostitution in order to care for her child. While she hates her life, she does it out of love for Cosette. She has such a selfless love for her child. You might think this choice is a bit selfish since she is now a prostitute, but women did not have many options so prostitution was her only option. While the melody is quite catchy, it is still a tough song to watch, which is even harder to watch than death scenes.


Who Am I:

Previously in the runaway cart scene where Valjean helped rescue a man who was trapped under a cart, Valjean learned that “Valjean” was arrested and about to be sentenced. Valjean knowing that an innocent man was accused of being him, Valjean is faced with a moral dilemma and he has such a big decision to make. Does he not turn himself in to protect his factory or does he go to court and tell the truth? Valjean never forgot how unfairly prisoners are treated and that is does harden you and he can’t bare to see an innocent man get the same fate he got. But in the end, he makes the right choice by turning himself in even though it puts his workers and his job in trouble, but he still made the right choice.


Come to Me:

This is the first death scene in the musical. In a few scenes back, Valjean intervened to keep Fantine from being arrested. Even though Fantine is weak and dying, she is still concerned about the well-being of her daughter. Valjean shows compassion to Fantine and agrees to raise Cosette as his own. This gives Fantine peace and comfort for once. This really goes to show how much Fantine loves her daughter and she hopes her daughter will have to better future. This is quite a memorable death scene.



This immediately follows Fantine’s death. Valjean and Javert are having an argument. Javert tries to arrest Valjean and Valjean tries to prove he has become a better man and a promise to fulfill. This song goes to show how badly Javert wants to arrest Valjean for breaking parole.


Castle on a Cloud:

This is when we first are introduced to Cosette. She is only eight and we realize that she is not treated very fairly. She is horribly abused by the Thenardiers. They force her to be a servant and she is quite a broken child but with an amazing spirit. She has hope she will one day be rescued. This is a cute, but heartbreaking song.


Master of the House:

I am so glad this number exists. This is the big comic relief number. You already have seen a lot of heartbreak. The opening number is already heartbreaking and after that leading up to the bishop, Valjean is treated unfairly by society since he is a prisoner. You have gone through Fantine’s storyline, which is so hard to watch and you see how much Cosette is being abused. So you need a bit of comic relief. This song highlights the pick-pocket nature of the Thenardiers, but at the same time, you can’t stop but laugh. This is a very catchy song and is much-needed.


Suddenly: Original song in the movie

This number is only in the movie, but it is important to understand Valjean’s love for Cosette. Valjean has already taken Cosette away from the Thenardiers. Ever since leaving prison, Valjean has never known love and Cosette has never known love either. Valjean has just become a father in the most unexpected of ways. You start to understand how much Cosette means to him. He is filled up with love and he knows he can’t tell Cosette about his past and will protect her. This song is so beautiful and love seeing this scene play out in the movie. Valjean knows it will be tough raising her since he is always on the run due to being an ex-convict.


Look Down: Paris, 1832- the last time switch.

Similar to “At The End of the Day”, you see the conditions of the poor. You realize that things haven’t changed much. The poor still aren’t treated right. You are introduced to the rest of the characters. You first come across Gavroche, Marius, and Enjolras in this number. Gavroche ends up introducing you to the Thenardiers and their daughter, Eponine. You realize that the family is now poor and living on the streets of Paris and they are scamming people out of money forcing Eponine to be part of the schemes and she is the one who watches out for the police. With Marius and Enjolras, you learn of the outbreak of cholera epidemic since General Lamarque is dying of cholera. You start to see their plans for an uprising. This has such an epic feel to the song. So much is happening in this number, but very important.



This is Javert’s first solo. This song is very hard to describe. You see that Javert has a religious aspect of him. This is Javert lying out his beliefs and he is saying how he is devoting himself to the law especially for capturing Valjean. I still struggle with understanding what this song is about. Even though I don’t like Javert, it still is such a beautiful song, but is an important song for getting to know Javert.


Red and Black:

This is when we are introduced to the rest of the students who are part of this political group. You learn their passion towards the uprising and you also are first introduced to their brotherly love of each other. You learn that Enjolras is the leader. In terms of Marius, he has just fallen in love with Cosette before Stars. He is a bit distracted by the girl he loves. Even though he is close to the students, he is so much distracted by this girl, but yet he has no idea who her name is yet.


Do You Hear the People Sing:

This is the number when the students go out into the street trying to rally some support. This is quite a passionate number and they are hoping others will join them. This is when you learn about their hope and passion for the rebellion that is to eventually come.


In My Life:

This is really the first number you are introduced to adult Cosette. She is reflecting on Marius, the boy she is in love with, and wants to know more about her adopted father. You learn just how sheltered and protected she is. She is demanding to know more about Valjean. Later on in the number, Valjean enters and that is when she wants to know more answers about his past and she seems to know how dark his past is, but he really doesn’t want to tell Cosette about his past. The second half of this song is between Marius and Eponine. Well right before Stars, Marius asks Eponine to find where Cosette lives and though reluctant, she agrees seeing it will make him happy. It is already clear she loves Marius before “In My Life”. Marius keeps on talking about Cosette in front of Eponine oblivious to her love for him. She is reflecting on the fact that the words he is saying hurts knowing that he will never love her.


A Heart Full of Love:

This song is mainly a love duet between Marius and Cosette. They first mainly meet each other and learn each others names. Throughout most of the number, you feel happy for them. But towards the end, Eponine joins in reflecting on her unrequited love for Marius and than it is conflicting between feeling happy for Marius and Cosette, but at the same time feeling heartbroken for Eponine. That is part of why this love triangle is so effective.  This song is very romantic and very beautiful.


One Day More: Act I Closer

This song is one of the best ways to end the first act. You have each character talking about their passion, which eventually overlaps. They are curious what the next day will hold since the uprising is the next day. Valjean’s reflects on his past, Cosette and Marius bring up their love for each other, Eponine reflects on her love for Marius and knowing he does not notice that she does love him, Enjolras reflects on the uprising, Javert talks about how he plans to spy on the students and the Thenardiers plan to rob the dead in the sewers. The citizens are in this number too also curious what the next day will hold. But when their passions all overlap, it is quite powerful. It is hard to describe how powerful this song is, but perfectly ends act I.


Before moving on to On My Own, I just want to mention that the students are starting to build the barricade. Based on the stage show, Marius saw Eponine disguised as a boy and gives her a letter to give to Cosette. While that seems selfish, it is not because he just wants Eponine safe. I brought all of this up to show that On My Own does not open up act II exactly.

On My Own:

This is Eponine’s main solo. In the intro part, you learn a bit more about Eponine’s life. You realize just how alone she is. She does not have a home because she is living on the streets. Marius is literally all she has in life. In this song, she reflects on the current situation she finds herself in. This song is about her unrequited love, but goes beyond her unrequited love. You learn she gets through the day by visualizing that Marius is in love with her even if she knows it just a fantasy that she is creating. As the song continues, you realize how strong her love for Marius is. She will always stay by his side and love him even though he doesn’t love her. He is the only happiness in her life. Towards the end, you realize that she does not have much happiness in her life. This is such a beautiful and very heartbreaking song.


A Little Fall of Rain:

Eponine has just returned to the barricades. She eventually is shot and her wound would turn out to be fatal. Despite knowing she is dying, she still looks for Marius. After she collapsed in his arms, Marius realizes she is shot and weak and dying. Knowing this, it worries him and hurts him a lot. Even though he is devastated, he shows Eponine an incredible act of compassion by holding her, being with her and comforting her while she is in a lot of pain.

Eponine realizes just how much Marius cares for her. She is feeling this incredible sense of happiness even though she is dying. The song is quite tender and intimate. This scene is very hard on Marius, but never leaves her side. The first thing Marius says after she dies is “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. Even though he didn’t love her, he knew that her life was not easy and knew just how brave she was. This is my favorite death scene in the musical. It is hard to find the joy in this if you didn’t realize how dark Eponine’s life and how strong her love for Marius is.


Drink With Me:

The students already know just how outnumbered they are. This shows their vulnerable side. This shows the friendship in such a beautiful way. It is very intimate but very devastating. They know they are going to die and they know it is a lost cause and they still have such a brotherly love for each other. This is the last moment they really have with each other. Marius expresses about Cosette wondering if she is going to miss him if he dies. Plus, he is still devastated over Eponine’s death. This is such a beautiful and intimate song to listen to.


Bring Him Home:

While the students are sleeping, Valjean is praying to God to make sure Marius survives. He came to the barricades to protect Marius since Cosette loves him. This is such a soulful and beautiful piece and it really shows just how much Valjean loves God. This song is a bit sad especially when you realize that Marius will be the only one to survive.


Before going on into the next song, I just want to say that during the final battle, the students still decide to fight even if they are going to die. Marius eventually falls unconscious and Valjean carries him and the only way to escape is through the sewers.

Dog Eats Dog:

This is my least favorite song from the musical. This is when you see Thenardier robbing of the corpses. You really see his villainous nature in this number. But still, my least favorite number. Thenardier is so frustrating. You can love him in one way but hate him in another.


Javert’s Suicide:

At the barricade, Valjean has shown Javert an incredible act of mercy by forgiving him and letting him go. This puts Javert in quite a dilemma and Javert even lets Valjean go after Valjean emerges from the sewers carrying Marius. Javert’s view of life has been conflicted. He realizes that people can change and realizes he has set his principles and beliefs all long. Even though the law says it is against the rules to break parole, but doesn’t want to chase Valjean any further because Valjean changed and has become a better person. He no longer sees a purpose in life so he kills himself. This is a big epiphany for Javert. He could have received the mercy and forgiveness from Valjean but he doesn’t accept it.



This song is a heartbreaker. The women are singing about how the students have all lost their lives and about what they were fighting before. They were only students and died in one night. These women were related to the boys in one way or another. They realize that not much has changed since those boys died.


Empty Chairs at Empty Tables:

This song is extremely heartbreaking. Marius is the only survivor and feels like he should have died as well. Marius has lost everyone he cares about except for Cosette at the barricade. He first lost Eponine and eventually lost Gavroche, Enjolras, and the other students in one night. He has gone through so much trauma. He has no idea how he managed to survive. This song reminds you of the unsuccessful nature of the uprising. Marius is very devastead and quite broken.


Wedding/Beggars at the Feast:

This song is during the wedding of Marius and Cosette. The Thenardiers crash the wedding and gave away some crucial information to Marius. Marius learns that it was Valjean who saved him. In the scene previously, Valjean told Marius about his past. In this particular number, he realizes it was Valjean who rescued him so he knows he wants to thank Valjean. The Thenardiers provide another comic relief number, which is Beggars the Feast. Act II almost needs the comic relief much more than Act I. Act II has many more deaths.



This number starts out with Valjean dying waiting for death to great him. He has lost Cosette so his heart is broken, but that is what he will eventually die from. The spirit of Fantine visits him thanking him for raising Cosette. Before he dies, Cosette and Marius arrive and Marius tells Cosette it was her adopted father that rescued him. Cosette eventually learns that her father is dying and she is quite broken. All Cosette and Marius is each other, but at least there is a sense of hope. Depending on which version, in the movie, the bishop and Fantine sing the last couple of lines with Valjean, but in the stage show, it is Fantine and Eponine.

Right after the lines “to love another person is the see the face of God”, the song goes straight into a “Do You the People Sing Reprise”. This finale may be quite heartbreaking, but this reprise fills you up with hope. This is literally the most perfect way to end a musical. One of the shows biggest spiritual themes is hope.


So there we have, a review of Les Mis songs. While some aspects of the plot may be lost, these are just the main songs. As you can see, there are so many emotions to juggle. Sometimes you have joy found at a very heartbreaking moment. Or the opposite happens where you are happy for most of the song and then you have to add heartbreak to the mix. You can first feel heartbreak for the first chunk of a certain number and than feel hope. So Les Mis is a gigantic emotional roller coaster. It is very hard for me to describe just how much I love this soundtrack. This soundtrack is a big reason why it has lasted in London for more than 30 years and why the show still tours and why there are still school productions.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/suddenly/”>Suddenly</a&gt;