Why I Love Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean is the protagonist in Les Mis. He is an ex-convict unfairly sentenced for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. He is one of the best protagonists in the world of musicals.

Major Spoilers:

Unknown

He is a character that goes through a wonderful transformation. When he is released from prison, he is stuck on parole forever. Being in prison has hardened him to become a hateful and angry man. It is his transformation that makes him such a wonderful character in so many ways.

It wasn’t until he meets that bishop that he realizes he needs to change. He feels like society will always hate him. The bishop showed him an incredible act of mercy by inviting him to eat and sleep at his house. But Valjean hardened through prison repays by stealing his silver. But the bishop forgives him and gives him the silver. He has taught Valjean the ways of the Lord.

images-2

It is in this particular moment, Valjean has realized just how much prison has hardened him and realizes that he needs to change his ways. He notices the compassion the bishop has shown him. In order to change his ways, he needs to break parole.

images

So Valjean has become mayor and starts to show compassion to those of others. He opens up a factory. He helps the less fortunate. So his transformation has truly begun. He was given a second chance at life and starts to live by the ways of the bishop. He indirectly is responsible for the firing of Fantine. He shows compassion to her by promising to raise her child, Cosette, on her deathbed. So Valjean understands the value of compassion at this point. In addition, when an innocent man is accused of being the “real” Valjean, Valjean turns himself in to protect the man.

Unknown

Valjean discovers just how broken Cosette is. She has been abused by the Thenardiers. Valjean has become a father in the most unexpected ways. Jean Valjean has never known love and neither has Cosette. So the two form such a special bond. Cosette is the main happiness in Jean Valjean’s life. She helps him with his transformation to becoming a better person. You might think he is sheltering and protecting Cosette too much, but let’s remember he is an ex-convict on the run and knows that Javert is after him.

unknown-2

In act II, Valjean realizing that Cosette loves Marius, he does an amazing act of courage. He realizes that his daughter loves Marius. He picks up on the fact that Marius might die on the barricade so he ends up going to the barricade to protect Marius in order to make sure that he lives. Marius and the students eventually realize the uprising is a lost cause. After “Drink With Me”, Jean Valjean prays to God to make sure Marius lives. So Jean Valjean has learned to love God and it is clear that he has such a strong spirit.

During the final battle, Marius seriously gets injured and he falls unconscious so Valjean carries him through the sewers and eventually rescues him from death. This act of courage shows just how much he loves Cosette. It shows that he is capable of both compassion and courage.

636445281843556862-03-LM-TOUR-2385-Nick-Cartell-as-Jean-Valjean-613a8615f4

Valjean dies at the end. But he gets to die with Marius, his now son-in-law, and Cosette by his side. He has finally redeemed himself. He has become such a compassionate and saint-like man. He has lived a tough life of being an ex-convict, but he learns to love through Cosette. He has learned a lot of lessons through the bishop and that is why he was able to become a better person.

Unknown

So his transformation makes him such a well-loved character. To start out as a hateful, harsh, and angry man into a compassionate and saint-like man is so inspiring. He has developed a wonderful love for God. Due to being to prison, he rescues an innocent man from being sentenced to prison. He also rescues a man trapped under a cart. So he does many moments of risking himself for the sake of other people. Cosette has taught him how to love and he would anything for her even if it means losing her forever. That is why he rescues Marius. So his transformation and his actions make me love him so much.

Advertisements

Why I Love Eponine

It is quite fitting that for the series, I would go straight to a character from Les Mis. That is because Wicked and Les Mis are my top two favorite musicals. For today, I decided to talk about why I love Eponine. It actually took me almost an entire year to know why I love Eponine.

images

Major Spoilers:

Eponine is the eldest child of the Thenardiers. She started out as being a spoiled child, but also appeared to be loved by her parents. But soon after Cosette was taken away, Eponine’s life becomes even worse. She becomes horribly abused and unloved by her parents and falls into extreme poverty. She eventually falls in love with Marius so deeply because of the kindness he shows her, but that love falls unrequited. So where does my love of Eponine fall into all of this?

tn-500_22382333_10154836307787377_8552096635927997770_o

She has to take part in her parent’s schemes because she was forced into them at times. But the interesting thing about Eponine is that she is not as despicable or as selfish as her parents. Her loyalty towards Marius shows just how different she is when it comes to her parents. She would rather be loyal towards Marius than towards her parents. That is an interesting part about Eponine. She shows how you can raise above her upbringing.

She is strong and brave and complex. A lot of my love for her comes from how she responds to her unrequited love for Marius. She will do anything for him even if it means losing him forever. She is the girl who helps him find Cosette. She risks everything for Marius. That shows her bravery and strength. Her love for Marius is quite strong. She continues to hold on because he is the light of her life. You might think her love for Marius is a weakness, but it actually is her greatest strength even though it leads to “A Little Fall of Rain”.

Her love for Marius does lead her to the barricade. At the barricade, in order to try to protect Eponine, he sends her to deliver a letter to Cosette. As she sings “On My Own”, she accepts that Marius will never love her and you can feel the level of depth her love for Marius goes and the song is very powerful. She will continue to love him no matter what. Without Marius, her life would be much darker.

She eventually gets killed at the barricade after sacrificing her life for him. She gets to die happy due to being in the arms of Marius. Marius shows compassion to her by holding and comforting her while she dies. If you understand how dark her life was and how strong she loves Marius, it makes you understand why dying in the arms of Marius makes her happy for once.

1024x1024

So a lot of my love for Eponine comes from she responds to her love for Marius. You see her level of strength and bravery through her love for him. At least she gets to die in the arms of Marius due to how dark her life was. Her death does make Marius feel devastated, but despite that he still stays with her till the end.

A Little Fall of Rain Analysis in Regards to Marius

Major Spoilers:

“A Little Fall of Rain” is a heartbreaking, but a bittersweet song from Les Mis. This is a duet between Marius and Eponine. In this post, I want to talk mainly about Marius, which sounds odd. Marius is judged unfairly by many fans and people assume Marius is a jerk because of his relationship to Eponine, but this scene proves it wrong, but yet many fans think he is a bigger jerk at this scene, but once again I disagree.

“A Little Fall of Rain” is Eponine’s death scene. When Eponine comes back to the barricade she is shot and this worries Marius. When he finds out she is dying, he is quite upset. Marius shows compassion to Eponine by comforting and holding her while she dies. This really shows just how much compassion Marius is capable of.

Marius actually gives Eponine the happiest moment of her life because Eponine deeply loves Marius. He is quite broken throughout this entire scene. He loved her as a friend and knows about how dark her life was because after she dies, he says to the students, “her name was Eponine. Her life was cold and dark. Yet she was unafraid”.

How is Marius being with her throughout the entire scene make him a jerk? He tries to stay brave for her throughout this scene. Marius being with Eponine and the song makes this death memorable for me despite my love for Eponine. He does value their friendship because of how devastated he is during this scene and after. He really is capable of loads of compassion and this scene in particular shows that. If he wasn’t capable of that amount of compassion, then he would have left her to die alone, but he doesn’t. He stays with her even though it is difficult on him. So I don’t see Marius as a jerk at all, which is true even before this scene.

images-1

What are your thoughts on Marius and this scene?

Les Mis Collection (Part 2)

Earlier in Christmas Break, I wrote a Les Mis post about my Les Mis collection. Well, a couple weeks after, I realized I left part of my collection off so I am doing a new post. I will still talk about the things I already explained and will bring up the stuff I never included.

IMG_1527

This picture gives a general idea of my love for Les Mis. I have three tickets from the community college production (2013), the West End production (2015) and the current touring US production (2017), which was seen in Greenville. So have happened to see 3 productions ever two years. The community college production was seen 3 times due to going once with family and twice as an usher, which is why my total number of times I have seen Les Mis is 5 times. In relationship to those productions, I have the three playbills and what surprised me in London is that I had to buy the playbill, which doesn’t happen in the United States. My London playbill was signed by Adam Bayjou, my Valjean, and he was an understudy and he made me forget I was watching an understudy so that says something about how brilliant he was. I have a filer for the community college production and a filer for the London production.

As some know, I went to Les Mis party last year where I dressed up as Eponine, my favorite female character in the musical. Well, my first Les Mis party was in 2015 where I was surprised and my mom hid it by saying that one of her closest friends, who is also a big Les Mis fan just wanted to see the movie with me. So in my 2015 party, I was not able to dress up as a character, but I was called Eponine all night long just because I sang “On My Own” during Karoke. One of the people who attended knew a friend happened to know one of the Valjean’s and so she got in contact with that former Valjean and he signed a souvenir program and I did not see that part of my collection coming.

Obviously as any Les Mis fan, you would have the soundtrack. It took a lot of debating over which one I wanted. My mother eventually bought me one of the soundtracks and it ended up being the original broadway cast. Even with the soundtrack alone, I am reduced to tears. As a big Les Mis fan myself, I own the unabridged book, which I actually finished in less than one summer and that book is my favorite of the classics. The last of that picture is the page to screen book. It talks about how it made its journey to London stage to its creation of the school edition all the way to the musical movie. It has pictures and several facts in relationship to Les Mis.

IMG_1531

My first Les Mis bit of my collection was the movie. The movie was the first full experience of Les Mis. My first viewing, I couldn’t tell if I loved that movie or not. I was a bit shocked and confused as it is a tragic musical, a musical theatre genre I really had no clue existed so I didn’t know how to respond to Les Mis. Despite the confusion, I started researching the musical until I decided to give the movie a 2nd chance and I was able to calm down and get more out of it. I watch the movie each time I come home for break and I am not tired of it yet. I also own the 25th anniversary concert DVD. I watch that version less than the movie because it is longer so it is hard to find time to watch something of 3 hours. So these two are my easiest access to Les Mis if I am in the mood to watch it.

IMG_1529

I got the gray T-shirt at the Queen’s Theatre when I saw it in the West End. The red shirt is quite special. Some of my friends at Gardner Webb made that shirt for me for a birthday present. Literally the shirt says “keep calm and talk about Les Mis”. It appears as if those two friends know me quite well. It is unique in the fact that a) college friends it for me and b) no one else can own it.

IMG_1528

This poster is hung above my bed in Charlotte. This is yet another souvenir I got at the Queen’s Theatre. The only posters that belong on my wall in my room are musicals that hold an important part of my life.

fullsizeoutput_747

These two paintings do deserve a part in my collection as well. In my first semester of college, one of the RAs of my floor made these two paintings for me. Those two are hung in my dorm room. Even though the French flag is not in the right order, I still love the painting.

IMG_1583

Last time, I did this post, I cannot believe I forgot about my Les Mis piano book. In 2014, I was going through a rough time in my life and to get through that, my piano teacher taught me the Les Mis songs on the piano. Because I knew the songs so well, I was able to add emotion into the songs. I knew when the songs got louder or got softer. The colored pencils were found as a stocking stuffed. They have words on them like “one gray more”, “do you hear the purple sing”, “blue4601” and other things like those.

I will leave with pictures from when I saw Les Mis and when I dressed up as Eponine along with a painting I made at Pinterest night, which has Eponine on it.

 

‘So based upon my collection and the number of times I have seen the stage production, the movie and the 25th anniversary concert DVD combined shows just how big of a Les Mis fan I am. It also is shown through the number of times I listened to the soundtrack. So I have listened to those songs so many times and not yet tired of them and shows just how amazing of a musical Les Mis. Despite the number of times, I still get emotional listening or seeing it, which has led me to tear up, get goosebumps, and laugh along with something else that I can’t describe and that sort of feeling is something that rarely happen in a musical world.

 

Hunchback of Notre Dame vs. Les Misérables

Now that I have read both of Victor Hugo’s masterpieces, I decided to compare and contrast them. I was led to read Les Misérables because of my love for the musical.

Tangents:

With Les Misérables, I disliked reading them more than reading them in Hunchback of Notre Dame. In Hunchback of Notre Dame, they were much shorter and more interesting to read because they mostly were about architecture. With Les Misérables, those tangents were much more political and even longer. But with both, I understand that these tangents helped you understand the setting better.

Plot:

As expected, both of the books had a tragic, but beautiful plot. Both of these plots focused on the lowest of society. They represented things such as gypsies, criminals, disabled, and the improvised so they had a similar representation when it comes to the lowest rung. Both of these plots may be tragic, but they are beautiful. They each focused on love. Hunchback of Notre Dame had a much bigger focus on romantic love than Les Misérables. Hunchback of Notre Dame’s entire plot dealt with a love square of sorts since three men loved the same women. But with Les Misérables, it represented so many areas of love such as love for God, love for a child/parents, romantic love in the form of a love triangle, love for the country, and love for friends. So Les Misérables focused on more areas of love. I actually loved Les Misérables’ plot more than Hunchback of Notre Dame’s plot.

Characters:

I strongly disliked the antagonist, Frollo, in Hunchback of Notre because he was so evil and so dark and he responded to his unrequited love in very phantomesque ways. As far as Les Misérables’ antagonist, Javert, I loved him much more. At least Javert wasn’t exactly evil or morally twisted because he kept on trying to the right thing even if he saw the world in black and white. But Les Misérables’ does have two major characters who are quite despicable, who are the Thenardiers. Both of the tales had a character who dealt with unrequited love in a selfless kind of way, who were Quasimodo and Eponine. For me it was very hard to figure out who Hunchback of Notre Dame’s protagonist was, but I want to say it was Quasimodo and what was interesting about him is that he was disabled due to being both deaf and have a hunchback. Being deaf did leave at a disadvantage such as when the mob tried to rescue Esmeralda, he thought they were trying to cause harm to Esmeralda so he attacked them not understanding their actual intentions, but he still acted selflessly for his love for Esmeralda. Les Misérables’ protagonist, Jean Valjean, goes on such an incredible journey from this harsh and hateful man to this compassionate and saint-like man and his journey is wonderful to watch.

Ratings;

Hunchback of Notre Dame: 7/10

I gave this a 7/10 because I struggled with understanding the plot. It felt forever till I picked up on the plot and I already was halfway done with the book when it finally picked off. It spent about fifty page or so on Pierre, who is quite a minor character. Also as excepted, you were given background information about some of the characters for some time so it took a while to understand what was going on. It is hard for me to fully describe why I loved this plot.

Les Misérables: 12/10

Okay, why on earth would a book give me a 12/10 rating. Even though like Hunchback of Notre Dame, it felt forever till the plot kicked off, the story was exceptional. This heartbreaking storyline has this beautiful underlying spirituality. It is this beautiful story of how this ex-convict was given a second chance, which led him to redemption. Jean Valjean after being encountered with the bishop, he began to have this strong spirit and helped those in need. He saved Fantine from being arrested and agreed to raise her daughter, he rescued Marius, and he turned himself in when an innocent man was accused of being him and so on. The story overall made up for those incredibly long tangents. It has many more characters I love than in Hunchback of Notre Dame. I loved how selflessly Fantine was towards her daughter, which is why she had to do what she had to do after being fired and she trusted Valjean enough to raise Cosette. The passion the students have for France, especially in the case of Enjolras, is wonderful and I just love how they take in Gavroche, who is Eponine’s little brother.

Eponine, the Thenardiers’ daughter, is not fully like her parents and showed true love towards Marius and her love for him made her become a better person and even though she led him to the barricades to die with him, she still saved his life and she got to die happy because Marius was there. I love what Cosette represents in the overall story and that is hope. She had hope when she was a child that she would be rescued from her life of abuse and later her love for Marius brings hope to the story. As far as Marius goes, he is so complex and is capable of so much compassion. Les Misérables represents all aspects of society and the story is so human.

What do you think? Have you read both or one of these books? Of the two, which one do you like more and why?

Eponine and her Unrequited Love

This is my last unrequited love poem I am writing. I wasn’t going to not do a poem about Eponine due to her unrequited love. Whenever I think of unrequited love, I tend to think of Eponine.

Eponine:

A girl unloved and abused

A girl whose world is dark

A girl living in poverty

Will there ever be hope?

A glimmering light eventually comes

It comes in the from of a boy

The only boy and person who treats her kindly

Who is so sweet with her

So she fall in love with him so deeply

But that love falls unrequited

The girl who will do anything for him

Even if it breaks her

Just to see him happy

Will risk her life for him

Even if it means losing him forever

Even though she loves him

Protects him no matter what

Even when she has to face her father’s gang

Love full of such depth and strength

That leads her to the barricade

She will sacrifice her life for him

When he is in danger there

She will take her life for him

Dying in his arms is the happiest moment of her life

A scene full of such compassion and comfort

Who is this boy?

He is Marius

Where is Hope for Les Mis Characters?

Yesterday, I talked about my Les Mis collection. Today I thought I would mention more about the concept of hope in Les Mis. It is hard to find, but it is there. Some characters I still do not know where their hope is.

Possible Spoliers:

  1. Jean Valjean- first through the bishop due to him teaching Valjean the ways of the Lord so Valjean found hope for a second chance at life. His second aspect of hope is through Cosette, the first person he loved since he was released from prison.

2. Javert- I honestly have no idea where hope from him is coming from

unknown

3. Fantine- her hope is for the sake of her daughter. She has hope that her daughter will have a better life than she did. She found hope when she realized her daughter will be well cared for after Valjean promised to raise her daughter on her deathbed.

images

4. Cosette-she represents hope and light. Even when she was abused by the Thenardiers, she still had hope she will be rescued. Valjean does come for her. Her love for Marius brings hope to the story.

5. Marius-I guess his hope is coming from his relationship with Cosette. They are in love and they are two of the only characters who survive Les Mis. Both have faced some kind of trauma in their life, but they still bring hope to the tragic tale.

Unknown

6. Eponine- the light in her life is Marius. He is the only good thing in her life. Her life is dark and scary and a world without love. She grew up by being taught the ways of being a thief. She is forced to participate in her parent’s schemes. Marius is the only person who shows her kindness and that is why she loves him so much.

images-1

7. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier- I cannot seem to see any kind of hope in these two. They are the villains of the show and full of so much greed and neglect and don’t love their children.

unknown-1

8. Enjolras, Gavroche and the Students- they have hope for the rebellion and a strong passion for it as well.

So hope is a part of many of the Les Mis characters. It takes time to get to know Les Mis. It is the kind of musical you have to grow into. Due to it being very heartbreaking, you have to learn to see beyond the heartbreak and find the spirituality in it. Les Mis has this beautiful underlying spirituality so you end up leaving the theatre filled with hope. The show isn’t too depressing because if it was, you would leave the theatre feel quite sad and not hopeful. The musical makes you leave with hope. Tragic stories work as long as it goes beyond the sadness that they consist of.

How do the characters show hope in Les Mis?