Musing on Les Misérables…
Jean Valjean is a convict but a good man in Les Misérables. He’s not perfect but he struggles for the best. He cares about people but carries the burden of his criminal past as a guilty secret.
I am Valjean. My mixture of failures, struggles and desire to do right have continued through my life.
Bishop Myriel is kind to Valjean who steals his silver candlesticks. Valjean is arrested; the bishop not only forgives but gives him the candlesticks.
I am the Bishop: I aspire to see the best in people, forgiving, offering the second chance.
Javert is an upright and moral police inspector who wants Valjean brought to justice. This personal crusade consumes him and ultimately leads to his death.
I am Javert. At times I am so focused on what is right that I lose sight of the Bishop’s compassion.
Thénardier is a self-centred innkeeper. He focuses on money and personal gain. People don’t matter to him; abusing them he lies and cheats to attain his selfish ends.
I am Thenardier. At times I am self-centred, seeing situations and people as opportunities for my benefit.
Enjolras is the student leader whose high principles and passionate political idealism come first – even at the expense of his life.
I am Enjolras: I aspire to be enthusiastic in those things that I believe are important; I commit to them whatever the cost.
Marius is loyal – to his student friends, to his love, Cosette, and ultimately to Valjean.
I am Marius: often torn by loyalties, but wanting to be faithful.
Valjean: Two lines from his final song before he dies: a final prayer that reflects his redemption:
“Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to your glory.”
“To love another person is to see the face of God”
I would be that Valjean
- Les Misérables by Boublil and Schonberg (1988) based on the book by Victor Hugo
- Apologies to those who don’t know the story – you may feel excluded
- Apologies to those who do know the story – I have barely scratched the surface
- I have not focused on the four main women… perhaps another day…