Spiritual Themes of Les Mis

Today, I decided to focus on the various spiritual themes in Les Mis and where they are located in the musical. There will be some overlap between these themes so some scenes might repeat sometimes. SO THIS WILL BE A HEAVY SPOILER POST.

Love: in various ways 

Love for God:

1. First is shown in the bishop scene. The bishop clearly loves God. It is shown through how he shows forgiveness, compassion, and mercy on Jean Valjean. The bishop allows Jean Valjean to have a second chance at life.

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2. Another obvious scene is during “Bring Hime Home”. This is the scene where Jean Valjean is praying to God to make sure Marius survives the barricade. Jean Valjean went to the barricade to protect Marius because Cosette, his adopted daughter, loves Marius.

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Love for a Child:

1 Fantine’s selfless love for Cosette- She is a single mother was abandoned by Cosette’s biological father so she is left to care for Cosette by her self. At the time was dangerous to have an illegitimate child so she leaves Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers, but little does she know how horrible they will treat her child. After getting fired from Valjean’s factory, she literally sells her locket, her hair, and her body in order to care for her child. She is willing to die in order that Cosette has a better life. So she is selfless when it comes to Cosette.

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2. Valjean’s Love for Cosette- Valjean adopts Cosette after her mother dies. Even though Cosette is not Valjean’s biological father, Cosette makes such a huge impact on his life. It makes even more compassionate than before. She allows Valjean to be a kinder person and later because of how much she loves Cosette, he goes to the barricade to protect Marius, the love of her life. He is willing to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of Cosette’s.

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Romantic Love: Love Triangle

1. Cosette and Marius – These two make such an adorable couple. They are perfect for each other and help add hope to the story. They are meant for each because Cosette represents hope and light so these two need to be together.

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2.  Eponine and unrequited love- Eponine loves Marius, but he loves Cosette. But the way she responds to unrequited love is amazing. She will do anything for Marius to make sure he is safe and happy. That is why she makes sure Cosette and Marius end up together. That is why she screams at Valjean’s house to protect Marius even though it means standing up against her father. That is also why she takes a bullet for Marius at the barricade. She is willing to sacrifice everything even though Marius is the only good thing in her life and that to me takes a lot of strength. She falls in love with Marius because of the kindness he shows her.

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Love for Friends:

1. The love found between all the students is incredible. This love found these friends is so inspiring. They have such a brotherly love for each other. They are a group of college students who are a political group who are planning an uprising against France’s weak government. At the barricade, they eventually realize they will eventually lose and die, but yet they still fight.

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Love for the Law:

1. Javert-Love for the law is quite a weird one. Javer does have this love for the law. He strictly follows it. He believes “once a crminal always a criminal”. After Valjean broke parole, which is against the rules, Javert is determined to capture Valjean send him back to prison. But once love for the law is very odd.

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Hope: 

1. Fantine- Yes, I said there will be some overlap. Fantine has hope that her daughter, Cosette, will have a better life.

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2. Eponine- Marius is the light of her life. He is all she has in life. Her love for him is extremely strong and deep. He is the only person in her life that shows her kindness. Throughout the show, she is always true love towards Marius even if it means losing him forever.

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3. Cosette- She represents hope and light. As a child, she was terribly abused. But she still has hope she will be rescued and she eventually is by Jean Valjean. When she becomes a teenager, she falls. in love with Marius.

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4. Marius- His love for Cosette is hope.The love for each other brings hope to the story. If these two didn’t love each other, Marius would have died at the barricade.

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5. Enjolras, Marius and the students- These guys have hope for the rebellion. That is mostly shown in act I. Even in act II< they hold on that hope even when they realize they are going to die and lose. But they still have hope that others will eventually stand up against the weak government. They are so passionate about the cause that they are willing to die.

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Forgivness: 

1. The bishop scene- After Valjean steals the bishop’s steal, the is able to forgive Jean Valjean and shows him an incredible act of mercy. The bishop gives Jean a second chance at life.

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2. Valjean forgiving Javert- Javert is Valjean’s enemy but is able to forgive Javert. At the barricade, Valjean lets Javert go and end up forgiving Javert and this takes Javert by surprise.

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Compassion: 

1. Valjean showing compassion to Fantine-This happens in two ways. First shows compassion to Fantine by intervening to protect Fantine from being arrested. Then as Fantine is dying, she is still concerned about Cosette and Valjean promises to raise Cosette as his own and this gives Fantine peace and comfort as he is dying. Valjean stays with Fantine as she his dying.

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2. Marius showing compassion to Eponine- This is mainly shown at “A Little Fall of Rain”, Eponine’s death scene. After Marius realizes that Eponine is shot and is dying, this totally devastates Marius, but he still decides to be with her and comfort her while she is dying. Eponine is dying because she takes a bullet for Marius. Marius totally cares for Eponine and he holds her until she dies. It it hard on Marius, but he shows comfort to Eponine.

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3. Valjean and Cosette- Valjean is able to show compassion to Cosette. He is able to rescue her from the Thearndeirs. When realizing that Cosette is being terribly abused by the Thearndiers, he is thankful that he rescues Cosette. He promised he would raise Cosette after her mother dies. Not only does he keep his promise, but he rescues Cosette from a life of abuse.

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Sacrifice: 

1. Fantine- Like I said, themes seem to overlap each other. Fantine is willing to sacrifice everything including her life in order to care for Cosette. She is such a selfless mother willing to die to make sure her child gets a better life than she had.

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2. Eponine- She risks everything for Marius. Even though he is the only good thing in her life, she is willing to make sure that Marius ends up with Cosette. Everything she does it out of love for Marius. Her love for Marius shows that she has a spark of goodness left in her and that shows she is kind of different from her parents. She is willing to sacrifice her life so that he will survive the barricade.

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3. Students- Due to how passionate these students are, they are willing to die for the cause they strongly believe in. They are college students and they all die for this upswing. Enjolras, the leader of the group, is the most passionate  about this cause, which makes his death very heartbreaking. The students also are willing to die even if they know they are going to lose.

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4. Jean Valjean- He is willing to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of Cosette’s. When he finds out that she is in love with Marius, he goes to the barricades in order to protect Marius to make sure he comes out alive. When Marius gets seriously injured and falls unconscious, he carries Marius through the sewers and makes him strive the barricades. Another scene he shows sacrifice is when he turns himself in when an innocent man is accused of being the “real” Valjean and he can’t bear to see an innocent man get sent to prison because Valjean knows what is like.

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Humanity: From worst to best

1.Thenardiers- They represent the very worst of society. They only care about themselves and money. The first scene you realize they are quite abusive is when you see how they treat Cosette. Then during Master of the House, you realize they are in fact pick pockets. After Cosette gets rescued by Jean Valjean, they start using abuse on Eponine, their daughter. They raise her to be a thief and criminal and they fall into extreme poverty. AT such a young age, they kicked Gavroche, their song out of the house. Then with both Eponine and Gavroche die at the barricades, the Theanrdiers don’t even care. They do not love both of their children.

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2. Javert-He is this obsessive policeman who has a very shady view on the world. He views the world in black and right and believe that no one can change. He is further up in humanity than the Thenardiers. He always tries to do good even if it may not be the right thing to do.

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3. Eponine- She is a young girl who doesn’t have a lot of good things happen in her life. She lives with parents who abuse her and teach her the ways of being a criminal and forces her to participate in their schemes. The entire family falls in to extreme poverty. She falls in love with Marius, but that loves falls unrequited. She falls in love til him because of the kindness she shows her. I think the reason why she has s park of goodness in her is mainly because of Marius. Her love for Marius is quite strong and deep and constantly shows true love towards him. She eventually takes a bullet for Marius and dies in his arms.

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4. Students- they are a group of college students who are planning an uprising against France’s weak government.

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5. Fantine- She is a selfless mother who does anything in order to provide for Cosette. Even during her death, she is still concerned about Cosette, but Valjean agrees to raise Cosette as his own.

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6. Cosette- She represents hope and light. After Valjean rescues her, she lives a very sheltered life, but i don’t blame that because Valjean is always on the run from Javert. But Valjean gave her a better life. She is such a sweet person and she falls in love with Marius and their love help provide hope to this tragic tale.

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7. Marius- He is such a nice, sweet, and a little awkward law student. who is capable of an arming amount of bravery and compassion. His bravery comes from being willing to be part of the rebellion. His compassion is mainly shown through how much he cares about Eponine. When Eponine is dying, he ends up staying with her and comforting her and holding her while she dies even though this devastates Marius. He is the only survivor from the barricade and eventually realizes that Valjean is the reason he is alive and ends up thanking Valjean.

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8.   Jean Valjean- He starts out as being a harsh, hateful, and angry man and it doesn’t seem like he will become a better person. But then he meets the bishop who teaches him the ways of the Lord. The bishop shows him compassion and forgiveness and mercy by allowing him a place to sleep and food to eat and forgives Valjean after stealing his silver.  These actions gives Valjean a second chance at life and is determined to become a better person. It is why he rescues Fantine from being arrested, why he turns himself in when an innocent man is accused of being the “real” Valjean. He even promises Fantine that he will raise Cosette.

All of his actions he does after the bishop scene he does out of the example the bishop teaches him. He shows compassion to a number of people. He rescues Marius from the barricade. He raises Cosette. So you see as the show continues he continue to becomes a better person.

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9. The Bishop- Even though the bishop plays such a small role in the musical, his role is crucial. If he didn’t show compassion and forgiveness, to Valjean, there really wouldn’t be a story. Valjean would have stayed a hateful and angry and harsh man if it wasn’t for the actions the bishop does. He shows compassion by allowing Valjean a place to sleep and food to eat and is able to forgive Valjean.

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So you see , Les Mis deals with various levels of humanity. You have the the very worst and the very best and those in between.

Redemption: 

,1. Jean Valjean- Valjean goes on a path to redemption after the mercy shown to him from the bishop. By the end, he become a very saintlike and compassionate person despite his years in prison.

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Because Les Mis deals with so many areas of these spiritual themes, it makes Les Mis so much more than just a tragedy. It has this beautiful underlying spirituality, which is what I am able to relate to. It is why this tale is so inspirational. It is why it is not too depressing and why I am not sick and tried of it.

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Steps of becoming Obsessed with a Musical

This can happen in life. You can become obsessed with a musical. I am obsessed with Les Mis. I fell in love with Les Mis around 2012/2013. At this point, I have already seen it five times.

  1. See the musical in some way- well, I first saw the movie musical of Les Mis December 2012- I already knew Les Mis existed in 2009 through the whole Britain’s Got Talent Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream” thing so I already knew one song. I was a bit unsure coming in, but still unsure after the movie ended. After the first death, I was so shocked and confused because at that point, I realized Les Mis was a tragedy so I had no idea how to respond. I had interpreted ALL musicals as HAPPY growing up so I was shocked that Les Mis was a tragedy. At the end, I had “Do You Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head. But I had no clue if I liked it or not. Despite not knowing if I like it or not, I still started researching the musical. 

  2. If you have to, give it a 2nd chance. That is exactly what happened with me. I had to give the movie a 2nd chance. I decided to give it a 2nd chance because I had no idea if I liked it the first time. I still don’t know what prompted me to see it a 2nd time. With the 2nd viewing, I was able to calm down and see so much more. I began to see there was something special about Les Mis. I started to research even deeper about the musical. I just wanted to know why it makes me feel uplifted since it was so heartbreaking.
  3. Have a desire to see the stage show. By this point, I already researched it a lot. I really knew a lot more about the characters. I even already owned the movie. When I heard it was coming to community college, I badly wanted to see it. So my mom and dad took me to see this production and then I saw it twice as an usher. Just by seeing it at community college, I wanted to see the musical in the West End. It was my dream to see it there.                                                              1450047_10202059520557133_349234801_n
  4. Understand why you love it (started after seeing the movie 2nd chance and on)- I really began to understand many reasons why I love it. I did start to love the character of Eponine the 2nd time I saw it, but failed to know why. It took the entire year of 2013 and part of why in 2014. I also began to understand why I love some of the other characters. By having an obsession, you see a lot in the musical. Les Mis after all is so complex. and there is so much to be explored. I began to understand how the characters’ lives are so interconnected and how they directly and indirectly impact each others’ lives. I eventually noticed the switch that happens between Eponine and Cosette, which is interesting to explore. I started to really see more of the spiritual themes, which proves why this heartbreaking tale is so inspirational. I began to love Valjean’s journey and love the passion the students have for the uprising. Etc

Well, by the end of 2013 I became officially obsessed. So this obsession is why I developed a passion for musicals. I saw it in the West End in 2015 so literally two years after I developed a dream for seeing it in the West End, finally was able to. I already seen a phenomenal production of Les Mis, but this was basically ten times better for 1) sitting nine rows back from the stage, 2) the staging, and 3) the cast. One member in the cast was an understudy, who was Adam Bayjou for Valjean.

 

2017: I already was obsessed, but seeing the musical a 5th time shows that you still aren’t tired of the musical. It was touring the US and I had a decision to make. Gardner Webb was taking people to see it in Greenville or I could see it in Charlotte with my mom. I choose seeing it in Greenville with my school. So seeing the musical another time shows how you are still impacted even after already seeing it four times. This production was my 5th time and my 1st time on tour. It also was the 1st time seeing the 25th anniversary. My other professional time, the West End, and an understudy, but what was a bit coincidental is that I had an understudy for this production. In this production, I had an understudy for Eponine.

 

I still don’t know why I am obsessed with it. I  only know why I love it. A lot of it had to do with the passionate, epic, highly moving and powerful score. It complements the characters perfectly. The characters are quite complex and believable. You have the very compassionate ex-convict Jean Valjean, the obsessive policeman Javert, the selfless mother and prostitute  Faninte, the funny, abusive, and greedy Thenardiers, the brave and loyal Eponine, the sweet, compassionate, and a bit awkward and brave Marius, the beautiful and orphan Cosette,and the hopeful and passionate students. There is so much going on it Les Mis. So that was a bit rundown of me becoming obsessed with Les Mis.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Tragedies of the Les Mis Characters

Yes, yet another Les Mis post. Today I decided to talk why each of the characters in Les Mis have something tragic about them.

Major Spoilers:

Jean Valjean- sent to jail and punished for five years just because he stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s son and in total served 19 years due to multiple escapes. Has to serve his life as an ex-convict and faced injustice. At the end, he ended up dying, but with Cosette, his adopted daughter and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side.

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Javert- was born inside the jail, his tragic flaw is that he sees the world in black and white and believes “once a criminal always a criminal” and he thinks it is his purposes to recapture Valjean after he broke his parole. Did not know how to show love, mercy, or forgiveness or receive it. He built his principles wrong and strictly follows the law and eventually commits suicide.

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Fantine- her lover abandoned her living her to raise her daughter, but it is dangerous knowing you have an illegitimate child so she left Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers not knowing how poorly they were going to treat her. Fired from Valjean’s factory unfairly by the foreman, turned to prostitution to care for her child and later died, but she got to die knowing her child will be care for since Valjean promised he would raise Cosette

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Monsieur and Madame Thenardier- their inn went bankrupt and fell into extreme poverty

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Eponine- was raised to be a thief and criminal, unloved, abused, and neglected by her parents, living in extreme poverty and dealing with unrequited love from Marius, the only good thing in her life. Ended up dying after being shot, but got to die in the arms of the man she loves.

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Cosette- had a horrible childhood because the Thenardiers abused her and treated her like a servant. At the end of the show, she lost her father and even though she lives, she still had tragic things happen in her life. She only has Marius left in her life.

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Marius- faced loads of trauma at the barricade. He was the only survivor of the barricades. He first lost Eponine and later would loss the rest of his friends. At the end of the show, all he has is Cosette.

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Enjolras, Gavroche and Students-all lost their lives fighting for what they believed in. Gavroche is kicked out of his family at a very young age (he is Eponine’s little brother), but loved by the students

By seeing that each of these characters have faced tragedy in their life shows just how human Les Mis is. Many of them died and some of them have a very dark life or lost everything important to them. So these characters are very real because of what they had to face in their life.

Musical Families: Round Two

Once upon a time on this blog, I talked about musical families. I talked about only loving families. But on this post, my focus will be on all musical families. Some of these families are biological families and some of these families were created either by adoption or a group of friends formed a family.

Possible Spoilers

The first family I want to talk about is the Thenardier Family. The Thenardier family is defiantly not a loving family due to just how abusive and neglectful this family is. In the musical, it consists of Monseiur and Madame Thenardier, Gavroche and Eponine.

You first get to know them through Young Cosette. At the time, Cosette is eight and you notice that the Thenardiers are in fact quite abusive due to just how poorly they treat Young Cosette and that is shown through “Castle on a Cloud”. They even treat her like a servant and they have scammed Fantine out of money and use it to spoil their daughter, Eponine. Just through how they treat Cosette says a lot about the Thenardiers. I read in the book that if Cosette wasn’t there, they would have abused their own children. Following her parent’s lead, Eponine also poorly treats Cosette. Throughout “Master of the House”, you learn that the Thenardiers are in fact pickpockets. Through those two songs, you get an idea of the environment Eponine is going to be growing up in.

However, Jean Valjean eventually comes for Cosette. The sad truth about that is that while Cosette is rescued, Eponine is stuck with the Thenardiers for the rest of her life. They actually kicked Gavroche out of their house and that in a way shows just how unloving the Thenardiers are. When it comes to Eponine, they give her the same treatment that Cosette got. Right after Cosette got rescued, the Thenardiers’ inn goes bankrupt and the family falls into extreme poverty.

Not only do they horribly abuse Eponine, but they teach her the ways of being a criminal. She actually is involved in her father’s schemes by being a watchdog for the law. Eponine no longer is living in a loving family and she is all alone in the world. She lives in such a dark world and she is all alone and not a lot of good things happen in her life No one shows her an once of kindness in her life.

The only person who treated her kindly was Marius and that was why she fell in love with Marius and why she loves him so deeply. Even though Marius loves Cosette, all she cares about is to make sure he is happy even if it means losing him forever. If Marius never entered Eponine’s life, her life would be so much darker and there would be no light.

Despite the fact that the Thenardiers are so unloving, I believe this family is a memorable one. The Thenardiers are the comic relief in this musical and good thing they do because it is much needed. There is importance behind the fact that both Gavroche and Eponine are the children of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers are defiantly some of the worst parents ever in literature. They are quite despicable, greedy, abusive, selfish, neglectful and unloving and do not even love or care about their children. Even when Garvroche and Eponine are killed during the uprising, they just do not care that their children died.

Another musical family is the Von Trapp family. Unlike the Thenardier family, this family is loving. The Captain may be strict with the children, but he is still loving towards them. When Maria becomes governess there, she brought happiness back to his house by teaching his seven children to sing. Eventually the Captain and Maria fell in love and they get married. This was one of the earliest families to enter my life since I have loved Sound of Music since elementary school.

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In Annie, a family is created as the show continues. Daddy Warbucks wants an orphan to stay in his home for a week over the holidays (Fourth of July in the movie and Christmas in the stage show). Daddy Warbucks wanted a boy to stay there, but he ended up with Annie. Through the course of her stay, Daddy Warbucks falls in love with Annie and eventually adopts her. Just like Sound of Music, this family has been part of my life for just as long.

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Another family found in Les Mis is the one between Young Cosette and Jean Valjean. As Fantine is dying, she is still desperate for the care of Cosette. Through an act of compassion, Jean Valjean agrees to raise Cosette as his own. After discovering Cosette in the woods, he almost immediately falls in love with her as his daughter. He realizes just how poorly Cosette’s life has been. Both Cosette and Jean Valjean are broken on the inside and through their love for each other, they are eventually healed. But there are challenges with raising Cosette. Since Valjean is an ex-convict, he is always on the run from Javert and he has to protect and shelter Cosette so often because whenever he is out, he is always in danger of being caught by Javert.

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Another Les Mis family belong to the Enjolras and the students. This is an example of friends who form a family. They have such a brotherly love for each other. Enjolras is the leader of the group and the most passionate about their cause. They plan a rebellion in the streets in response to an unstable government. They basically take in Gavroche and Gavroche ends up with family through them. Even though he is just a boy, he still helps out at the barricade.

Very similar to the students of Les Mis, the Newsies create a very similar family. Jack Kelly is the leader of the Newsies and has a special bond to Crutchie. A lot of them are orphans, runaways, or homeless, but all they have is each other. They are so close and stand up for what they believe in. Newsies is the newest family of the musicals I love.

Another friendship family is found among the characters in Rent. Many of them are starving artists and are poor. They live in the fact of fear due to the stigma surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mimi, Roger, Collins, and Angel are HIV positive. The other characters found in this family are Joeanne, Maureen, and Mark. These characters have a very close bond. They live their lives in love and despite relationship struggles at times, they still stay quite connected.

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One family that is quite important is my family. If it wasn’t for my parents, I may not be a musical fan at all. They took my sister and I to see musicals growing up both live and in the movie theatre. Seeing musicals starting in elementary school were essential to my musical journey. I saw musicals such as Cats, Beauty the Beast, Lion King, Annie, and Sound of Music back in elementary school. My mom took me to see Wicked when I was 12 in New York. Even today, my family takes me to the theatre to see musicals. I have special memories of my family and musicals.

Wicked was not the only theatre date I had with my mom. She also took me to see Pippin, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis and due to those being a mother/daughter date, it added to just how special all those trips were. I actually did see Wicked with my dad when I saw the musical for the third time and I remember my dad giving me the better seat even though he had never seen it. The tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me and dad switched places with me. I wouldn’t have been exposed to musicals in the first place if they didn’t take me in the beginning.

Below is a link to my first musical post I wrote about families. It has all the families I talked about except for the Thenardier family. That was because my first post belonged to the loving families

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/importance-of-family-in-musicals/

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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