Why I Love Les Miserables

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(A note to why I rewrote this. I felt that my words sounded more like a literary summary instead of what I was truly feeling, so I rewrote it.)

Dedicated to my father, Robert, who loves this story as much as I do and who is the most unselfish, loving, and kind a man I know.

​I write this entry in dedication to one of my favorite musical/operas of all time: Les Miserables. I am but one of millions of fans (maybe even billions) around the world who have enjoyed the phenomenon that is “Les Mis”. If you have seen the story and heard the music, you will understand what I’m about to say.

There is a spiritual quality to this story that is hard to describe, but you can feel it. When I first heard the music more than 20 years ago, I fell in love almost instantly. It was almost as if I’d known the story and the music before, but not with my mortal ears.

Yet it wasn’t until recently why I understood that this story and the music struck my soul so powerfully. I realized it’s because it is a story of selflessness, humility, love and the ultimate sacrifice. There are many dramatic characters in the story, but it is Eponine and Jean Valjean that move me the most.

These characters have touched me throughout my life in personal and unforgettable ways. With Eponine, I understood all too well what it was like to feel the misery of unrequited love. Even now, my heart still aches at times for the woman who died in the arms of the man who was blind to her love.  Only in the last bittersweet moments of her life could she reveal the depth of her feeling.  But it was her love that, in many ways, saved Marius so he could live and marry Cosette.  It was the greatest act of love she could offer.

eponine

But I think it is the story of Jean Valjean that stays with me the most.  Here is a man who has had the cruelest of injustices placed upon him as he spends more than 20 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread.  As he finally gets to leave, he is met with disdain everywhere and just at the moment when he is about to give up, the compassion and kindness of a priest change everything convincing Jean Valjean to turn his life over to God.

To me, the most powerful and poignant moment of the show is when  Jean Valjean sings “Bring Him Home” (See link and note below).  It is the culmination of all that Jean Valjean has learned through living a selfless life.  And maybe this is why it holds me mesmerized every time I watch it or listen to it.  It’s a prayer that is sung with the most intense sincerity and humility someone can utter…to offer their life in exchange for another.  It is the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate gift of love. How appropriate that this post comes at Easter time reminding us of another who gave His all for us.

Jean valjean

Maybe that is why the story of “Les Miserables” has stood the test of time and why it seems more important now than ever before.  In this world today, where wars, terrorism, and hardened people spew out so much hatred, the unconditional love shown in this story is a hopeful reminder that kindness, mercy and humanity will ultimately win.

But I don’t believe anything I say will fully express what the music and story mean to me. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe something that touches you to the core of your being. It’s so beautiful that it’s as if a small part of heaven reaches down and brushes across your soul.  For a moment, the veil lifts…and you remember what heaven feels like.

(A note on this version of “Bring Him Home” which is linked below. Alfie Boe sang this with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir only days after the Sandy Hook tragedy where the lives of so many young innocent children were lost.  It is said in rehearsal, he couldn’t even get through the song.  Look at the tears in his eyes and you will see the emotion in them as he sings for the children who were lost that day.)

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3 thoughts on “Why I Love Les Miserables

  1. I first time I read the story of Jean Valjean, I was in the 6th grade. It was a lesson in my vernacular language textbook. The terrible injustice that the person was subjected to, put me in tears. In the 7th grade, there was another chapter, this time it was the story of the author Victor Hugo himself. Never got to watch the opera. myself, but it is a very touching story. Your post drove me back to my childhood days. Thank you! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you liked it! May I suggest watching the 10th anniversary special of Les Miserablea on YouTube so you can hear the music? They present the whole story and it’s honestly one of the most powerful shows you will ever see. Cheers to you friend!

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