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Les Miserables The Musical Critical Essay

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Updated: Jan 20th, 2020


Les Miserables is a musical concert held in memory of the work done by Victor Hugo. The musical got derived from the novel, Les Miserables. The book got written and published by Victor Hugo in Brussels, 1862. The musical concert believed in moral over evil, tolerance and non-violence. The songs below are excerpts from this musical concert (“About Victor Hugo”).

Bring him Home – Valjean

The song got sung by Jean Valjean. A former convict and prisoner, Valjean changes identity to be different. The only reason he got released from the prison was because of the Bishop’s grace and pleading. Valjean constantly runs from Javert who still pursues him.

The song, “Bring Him Home”, got sung in the Act II of the musical concert – Les Miserables. Jean Valjean sings this song as a prayer to the Lord (God) for the release of a young man in police custody. Jean claims that the young man did not understand the impact of the actions he took. He begs that love and joy be extended to the young man.

Musical analysts argue that the pleadings of Jean Valjean in this song got prompted by the suffering of the young man’s wife. The wife, an orphan got robbed of a loving relationship to Marius, the young lad. This was because Marius would not stop anti- government rioting.
Happiness becomes the central theme of the song. Jean reasons with God in the song that Marius being young and afraid does not deserve to stay in detention. He urges that the young be blessed and released.

He reasons that Cossette – Marius’s wife will be quite happy to have her husband back. Jean wants to see both the young man and his wife happy and so sings with much pleading and activism.
The freedom that Jean desires for the young man is what he lacked when he was himself a prisoner. Though out of prison, he still runs for dear life because the police are still chasing after him. This prayer song becomes integral in showing what Jean believes in.

Javert’s Suicide – Javert

The song sung by Javert takes place in Act II of the musical – Les Miserables. The song is co-sung with Jean Valjean. The two are the main characters in Les Miserables and represent the evil and the quality of the society. Javert’s goal in life throughout the play has to do with capturing and imprisoning criminals.

Valjean happens to be the targeted criminal who Javert desires to re- arrest. Javert does not show consistency to this end. On two occasions, he allows Valjean to pass by when he was able to catch him. This was because of his own ethical obligations towards those who Valjean helps.

In the song, Jean Valjean, the criminal sought after by Javert wonders what an officer Javert must be. He gets disturbed that Javert lives him free despite the hatred and the pursuit. He sings about Javert’s quest for vengeance. He notes the differences between Javert and him and remains puzzled by Javert’s actions.

On the other hand, Javert feels terrible to have caught a long term criminal and let him go. He got tormented by his own lust for revenge against Valjean.

He feels sorry for letting the man he has hunted all his life pass. He feels troubled by the fact that he is personally alive courtesy of Valjean. He laments over his inability to deal with Valjean. He also wondered whether Valjean’s criminal activities and sins will ever be pardoned by the society. Javert feels defeated like someone who has lost everything in life and opts for suicide as a way of escape.

Despair becomes one of the themes of the song. Javert’s own despair comes under focus. The song shows how Javert cannot deal with failure and opts for suicide. Escapism also comes out clear in this song. Javert uses death as a way to avoid the pain he feels, his troubles and failure to capture Valjean.

Master of the House – Thenardiers

Master of the House sung by Thenardiers comes in the Act I of the musical play, Les Miserables. The song got sung as a comic release coming after the drama ensuing in the song, “Castle on the Cloud” before it. A lot of unpleasant things have happened by the time of this song’s happening. It brings relief and introduces Thenardiers and his cronies. The song gets performed as a chorus by other participants in the musical play.

Thenardiers works as bar waiter in one of the restaurants frequented by customers who come to rest and drink something. Most of the customers are drunkards who abuse alcohol to pass the time and forget their troubles as presented in the song. Thenardiers uses the occasion with the crooks that come to the inn place to promote silly jokes and comments.

They make fun over every new customer.
The main theme in this song got to do with strain relief. The song sounds like a break from all the difficulties of life. When one of the customers comes into the inn place, Thenardiers suggests that he lay down his burdens, removes his boots and the rest from the struggles of the road.

He mentions to the customer that the inn place existed to take away people’s burdens and set them free from their pain and suffering. He asserts that the satisfaction of every customer becomes the responsibility of the inn place. He states their effort to reduce the cost and maximize customer satisfaction. This song plays an extremely significant role in the entire musical. It bridges the gap between misery and joy.

One Day More – The Company

A lot of people got together to sing this song. Several characters in the musical – Les Miserables raised their voices to participate in this song in the Act I of the musical play. This song portrays the situation the characters in the play have. Each of the characters involved in the song introduces the audience to the situation they encounter. They speak of their fears, their joys, struggles and hopes. Interestingly, none of the characters stays the middle ground. They demonstrate both their positives and negatives in the journey of life.

The theme of future expectations comes out clear in the song. Each one of the characters involved hopes something will happen beneficial to them. In the last stanza of the song, the company expresses their bright future expectations. They sing of the discoveries ahead.

They state that they will have magnificent treasures from stores in heaven. They are optimistic about a better life and fortune in the days, months and life ahead. The song encourages the audience to look beyond their current struggles and pain. It urges the audience to see the future with the eyes of God.

The challenge to believe everything will be just OK pops up over and over again.
The students indicate that someday everyone will be a king. They became convinced that someday there will be a new beginning. That people will raise high their flags and experience true freedom from all their pains and sufferings. This song got echoed by most of the other characters. Better days lie ahead in life. The audience can forge ahead instead of giving up and letting go.

Who Am I? – Valjean

The song “Who Am I” sung by Jean Valjean got casted in the Act I of the musical play – Les Miserables. The song portrays uproar of a person who feel forced to hide who he is to experience freedom. Valjean laments the threat to his personality, identity and purpose in life.

One gets the impression that Valjean was a virtuous man who made poor choices in life for which he would pay for the rest of life. It looks like someone trying to defend themselves or remove their name from some misfortune. Valjean is trying so hard to prove his reliability and trust. Unfortunately for him, Javert does not believe him. This song got picked because of Valjean’s leading role in the musical.

This song has a theme of identity. The main idea of the song concerns definition of Valjean’s identity. At some point in the play, Valjean appears in front of the court and declares that he certainly is Jean Valjean. One gets the impression that no one believes this man. He sounds misunderstood and rejected. He seeks understanding of the court to take him for who he truly is. He even reveals his tattooed chest to prove to Javert the truth about him.

He does not deny that he got brought to the court room as a criminal.
This song underlines significant relationships that Valjean has in life. Valjean mentions his relationship with his workers also with God. He pleads innocence of his name and feels terrible about justice. He retorts that condemnation has come upon him. Whatever he does, he feels that justice is far from his reach.

I Dreamed a Dream – Fantine

The song got chosen for the simple reason that it mirrors the stories of several characters in the musical. The singer – Fantine was a single mother who got forced to sell her body in order to provide for her kids. Her sufferings were not plausible. This song happened at the beginning of Act I of the musical, Les Miserables. Her struggles and hopes feel the atmosphere as this song goes.

This song talks about dreams of a better life, a better future, vision and lifestyle. The song is about hope – undying faith that all will be well. Despite the beatings of life, Fantine mirrors a time when she will have her loved one back with her. She hopes that life does not deny her of all what she still has.


The musical concert, Les Miserables has become acceptable because of the songs used. The method of using songs clarifies themes and directs the subject and enables the audience to relate with the information given in a more useful way.

Works Cited

“About Victor Hugo.” lesmis.com. Les Miserables., Web.

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