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Les Miserables Case

Essay by   •  March 25, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,246 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,442 Views

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Les Miserables is one of the most popular Broadway musicals of the century. It is based upon a novel written in the nineteenth century by a French novelist named Victor Hugo. The story follows a man named Jean Valjean who struggles with his everyday life of being an ex-convict. We see throughout the story line his experience of redemption and how he tries to become at peace with himself and God. The musical also provides an understanding into the idea of God's presence in our world.

In the Catholic Church, redemption is the healing of a man whom is confined by the nature of his sins. Redemption is a theological view that is mostly enveloped by Christianity. Throughout Les Miserables, one can see that this aspect of theology is something that is very much approved. "Hugo depicted a world where human beings, by acting 'redemptively' toward one another, are able to change the world, and make it a better place, free from the condemnation of the law." 1The setting of this musical is in France, before the revolutionary war. During this time period, corruption and misery are at an all time high. However, the musical shows a small piece of hope through ways of sacrifice and redemption. When everything seems to be astray, light will shine through. This sequence of antiquity repeats itself over and over, however people who witness this Broadway show are led to a conclusion that those who are miserable still have a chance to find peace within their lives.

The analogy of Les Miserables is enforced through the lyrics of this musical that emphasize the kinship between Jean Valjean (the criminal) and Javert (the police officer). As a young boy, Valjean had been taught to despise everything and everyone that showed him no kindness. He was imprisoned for stealing food and his name had been destroyed. Valjean had come to know the world as a place without compassion and became nothing more than a desperate man. When given the opportunity to be free from prison, all Valjean was interested in was what the world could offer him. Once Valjean was offered true mercy by a bishop, Valjean was deceitful by stealing from the bishop. However, Valjean was shocked when the same bishop showed him kindness once more by not sending him back to prison. From this "Valjean didn't just receive grace, he received the means he needed to live a virtuous life in community."2 Shortly after, Valjean had a revelation and was offered redemption. For the first time in his life, Jean Valjean had realized that he had forgotten what it was like to be a good person. From then on, Valjean decided to start a new chapter of his life and in doing so, he accepted redemption. Javert had also grown up with a pure hatred for life itself. This hatred rooted with his deep love for the law. Javert had pushed himself to no end to be a good man. This led him to be a powerful and influential man for all people who witnessed him. Even though Javert was a free man, he had always had a constant fear of falling from grace. Javert believed that in life there could be no forgiveness and no compromise. Valjean was a man who accepted forgiveness into his life whereas Javert was impaired by the very thought of forgiveness.

Valjean had welcomed his new life whereas Javert hid from it. Through Valjean and Javerts different reactions to the gift of freedom one can see their two paths come together. Valjean had known nothing of goodness before his meeting with the bishop. The bishop's love and forgiveness had pierced his soul in such a deep way in that Valjean could finally

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