Les Miserables, which means “The Miserables Ones” in English, is a musical portrayal of the French Revolution. The musical is an epic tale and portrayal of the spirit of the very poor, people who have suffered throughout their lives. There are four main characters acknowledge the adversities they have faced. Their privations were distinct to them. Fantine is a woman whose life was miserable; she was held captive in a bog of poverty and public shame and was compelled to abandon her child to foster parents.
Cosette, the most naive of the miserables, was raised in poverty, having been born to a poor and unmarried mother. Valjean, one of the major characters in the story, certainly experienced the most poverty, as his life was full of suffering from his earliest days. Character Javert, who was an inspector, was one of “The Unfortunates” because he locked himself within the restrictions of the law. Jochen Streit (2004) writes, “Les Miserables is a work to which one can return time and again without a sense of having exhausted its possibilities.
Like its multifaceted hero, it can be viewed from numerous perspectives, each enriching the others. It is tragedy comedy, melodrama, romance, satire, epic, poetry, history, philosophy, theology, and political polemic, all rolled into one, it enables us to escape into adventures of others; it brings us back to ourselves. ” Mr. Streit brought to light the dept of the philosophy involved in the musical. The author of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, exhibits highly developed humanistic and philosophical beliefs in the novel through his “multifaceted hero,” Valjean.
The song “At the End of the Day” in Act I is sung by the entire company, all of whom are portraying factory workers. The song creates a strong sense of the misery and poverty experienced by the majority of the French residents. “At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing, sitting flat on your butt doesn’t buy any bread. ” The bitter workers are filled with anger, complaining that their lives have become unbearably difficult, and they are in desperate search for hope. This is one of major reasons for why the occurrence of the French revolution, and is expressed in the lyrics: “It is struggle, it’s a war. Through these words, the actors portray the daily existence of their characters. However, they are merely resigned to their destiny, without much actual hope of changing their situations. At the end of the piece, Fantine, who has a child, is introduced. Other workers taunt and accuse her of immorality in a scene in which the occasional cruelty of the embittered poor is highlighted. She fights with some of the other women and attempts to conceal the letter she has, which reveals the secret of her illegitimate child. Unfortunately, she fails, and is fired when the truth is discovered.
The aria “I Dreamed a Dream” in Act I conveys the significance of Fantine’s sacrifice for her daughter, Cosette. In this song, I could see that Fantine was younger and more foolish, and had taken advantage of by a man. She sings, “He was gone when autumn came,” indicating that she gave birth to her daughter alone and out of wedlock. However, Fantine never gave up and remains full of hope for a better life for her daughter: “And still I dream he’ll come to me,” so she says; however, she also says that “Life has killed the dream I dreamed. ” After she gives up Cosette to the Thenardiers, Fantine lost her ability to dream.
In the movie “The Rookie”, a story about a 38 year-old man trying to make a big league, the main character states, “If you don’t have dreams, you’ve lost everything. ” In Fantine’s case, she almost everything: love, motivation and purpose. If without these three things, she would leave helpless. The struggles that will give rise to revolution are embodied in the character of Fantine through the theme of her song. Fantine continues to dream on, despite the fact that her life situation is full of misery, and will eventually, drive her to a life of prostitution and a tragic death at the end of Act I.
The song “Master of the House,” shows people are always greet. Madame Thernardier calls her innkeeper husband, “Comforter, philosopher, and lifelong mate! Everybody’s boon companion, everybody’s chaperone. ” The Thernardiers offer a welcome dose of comic relief from the tragedies of this song, especially as there are so much of them in Act I; up until this point, it has been riddled with imprisonment, poverty, desperation and death. The Thernardiers struggle to survive through engaging in immorality, thievery, and cruelty, rather than with kindness, like most of the desperate peasants.
They seem to thrive more effectively on thwarting the law rather than obeying it. The song reveals how, as an innkeeper, Thernardier takes advantage of his patrons by providing them with poor food and lodging, charging extra money for the mice in the beds. The themes of the misery of the poor are highlighted in this son g, and its portrayal is more humorous way than the previous characters’ songs. The song “Stars” provides an important insight into the psychology of Inspector Javert. Without it, we might see Javert only as a cruel and relentless persecutor of Valjean.
In this song, however, we learn that Javert thrives upon the idea of order in the cosmos, like the stars “filing the darkness. ” Javert can see the darkness and the misery of the world around him, but rather than a revolution, he wishes that the law and order of society could bring about a better world. Javert is not an aristocrat who benefits from the injustices of the system. Rather, he supports the oppressive system the student revolutionaries oppose because he believes it is a necessity, and that, an orderly world will be better and ultimately fairer.
When a star transgresses, it falls; that is the justice of the cosmos. The fragile nature of Javert’s belief system will cause it to collapse when Valjean refuses to kill Javert when he has the chance to do so. In subsequent songs, it seems that Javert no longer has any reason to live. “On My Own,” one of my favorite songs, is sung by the character Eponine. She is hopelessly in love with Marius, a love which he does not respond. She is one of the most poignant characters in “Les Miserable. ” She is poor, and she is the daughter of the thieving Thernadrier.
In Act I, she was a child, spoiled compared to Cosette. However, in Act II, Eponine becomes an adolescent, and her character and essential goodness shine through. Eponine has a heart and a higher purpose in the world than simply making money. She loves Marius, but he does not love her back—despite his ideals he instead loves the innocent, Cosette. Eponine’s only happiness in life is, in her words, “in my mind,” where she pretends that the lamp-lined streets of the city are rivers of lights, and that her beloved Marius is walking beside her.
In the song “Bring Him Home”, character Valjean prays by the half-dead body of Marius to God, to bring Marius home, to bring the “boy” back home to health and happiness, so that Valjean’s adopted daughter, Cosette, can marry him and live a happy life. In addition, Valjean expresses the hope that at least one revolutionary student could finally survive the revolution war that has transpired. Over the course of the song, I learn that Valjean is weary in his lifetime spent running from the police. There is a suggestion that now that he is an old man, he wishes to be brought home from the suffering and the agony he has endured.
Valjean clearly has regrets about the way that his life has transpired saying of Marius: “He’s like the son I might have known, if God had granted me a son. ” Like all of the good characters in “Les Miserable,” despite his disappointments he knows that God hears his prayers, and he expresses his hope that God will listen to him. Victor Hugo’s work described the lives of unfortunate people. The musical is no doubtless a vivid picture of the populace of France during the 19th century. Each of the characters he created in Les Miserable shared one thing in common, besides their misery.
All of them had someone show them kindness or mercy in a single, transformative instant. Valjean showed great kindness to Fantine and Cosette, transforming himself into a famous man. Bishop showed mercy to Valjean when forgiving him. Ironically, Valjean had showed mercy to Javert as well. Valjean never cursed Javert, and never did him any deliberate harm. Valjean could have killed Javert and ended any threat of ever being discovered. However, Valjean, showed the utmost mercy, and he gives Javert respectful in each case. They were Hugo’s way of proving to people which hope is always around us, even for Les Miserable.