In the musical, How did M. Thénardier recognise Valjean as a criminal when he tried to rob him? He remembers Valjean from the time he paid for Cosette, and during that exchange Valjean never said who he was, so to the Thénardiers he's just some rich man. Yet when ÉThénardier tries to rob Valjean in Paris, he says "You know me, I'm a con, just like you"; and knows Valjean has a brand on his chest. How?
Couldn't he have just opened Valjean's shirt (looking for a hidden necklace he could steal) or it had come open, revealing the brand?
In the musical, Thénardier opens up Valjean's shirt while robbing him, then mentions it to Javert in The Robbery.
The book also elaborates: Thenardier smells a rat when he notices that although Valjean is dressed in tattered, worn clothes, he drops a huge sum of money without thinking about it to pay for Cosette. He considers that Valjean might be a robber.
More of a Meta JBM than specifically about the musical itself (and possibly the book, but I don't think the book has this issue), but why is it considered such a huge thing for or amongst gay people? The Ho Yay? The Estrogen Bait Brigade? Or just that it's one of the most widely known musicals there are (and has a feminine name for bonus points), and gay males stereotypically love musicals?
This gay troper has never heard of any particular stereotypes of gay men liking Les Mis specifically. Maybe it's just the general broadway fan stereotype. After all, it's a Big Damn Musical and most fans of musicals are also fans of Les Mis, the two go hand in hand with eachother.
Well, there was that episode of Scrubs where JD was arguing about The Glums with all the gay OA Ps who had started congregating on his decking. Apart from that, this troper can't think of any other examples.
There IS an AIDS research and recovery organization named Empty Chairs at Empty Tables after a song in the musical. Other than that, as a gay troper, I couldn't tell you about any other connections.
For this troper, the camaraderie of the Amis was pretty appealing to young people in my social circle who were still working out their identities, and as we all got older it stuck around. Idk how it is for other people, though.
Likely a combination of most of the above, as well as the fact that the theme of love triumphing over all is constant throughout the book and the musical - "to love another person is to see the face of God," anyone? Even more, there's equally priority given to fraternal love, romantic love, paternal love, etc, not just to the heterosexual romance.
If this is really a thing, it's the message of unilateral acceptance, courage for the oppressed, and ultimate success of social revolution. Though admittedly Enjolras and Grantaire don't hurt, with all the namedropping of our classical icons like Antinous, Orestes and Pylades, and Alexander and Hephaestion.
This one is more musical-specific as I have not, to date, read the entire book. Why has Javert become shorthand for an obsessively dogged Determinator who always gets his man? I've heard the phrase "officer who pursued a man for more than twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread" numerous times, but in the show doesn't give us any such thing. Javert doesn't pursue Valjean as much as he just kind of randomly runs into him a couple of times over the years. Obviously he never forgot Valjean, and he's certainly quick to pounce whenever their paths cross, but Javert hasn't been tracking him for years, he's been doing his job and getting promoted. If Valjean had, I don't know, moved to Belgium or something when he had the chance (difficult, I know, just using this as an example), they'd never have seen each other again.
It's what happens when you watch the musical and then wait bit. Javert does tend to say things ("At last we see each other plain") that can easily be interpreted as him tracking obsessively whenever he's offscreen. Not so much in the book, but a lot more people are willing to see a two-act musical than read The Brick.
Well, this Troper has read the book and can assure you that (even though Valjean and Javert to have odd habits of running into each other), Javert is looking for him. When Marius reports the Thénardiers as being scammers, Javert asks him if the man looks like he could be an ex-convict.
Not sure about that one. Isn't Javert asking about members of Patron-Minette at that point? Guelemer at least looks like an ex-convict from his description a few chapters earlier.
Also, when Javert hears a rumor of someone like Jean Valjean, even after he's supposedly dead, he travels to Paris and disguises himself as a beggar just to get a glimpse up close and see if it's really him.
The original troper is correct - Javert's obsession with Valjean is really only a product of the musical (which might be where the 'dogged determinator' bit comes from. In the book he simply always does his job and nothing more. He does dress up as a beggar to check if the man is Valjean, yet after he loses him the narrative specifically mentions that he forgets all about Valjean and moves on to other villains. He is definitely not asking about Valjean when he mentions a convict to Marius; he's running through descriptions of specific members of the Patron Minette, and the words 'ex convict' are preceded by 'weasly, cunning man' (quoting from memory) who only 'might be' an ex convict; it certainly isn't a description of Valjean. After he tries to capture the criminals, he is in the same room as Valjean for several minutes without noticing him. In the cafe after he's captured, his response to noticing Valjean there is merely mild sarcasm - Valjean's presence is at best incidental. The Javert in the book is, like most of the other characters, quite different from the one in the musical - this one just does his duty, without the distracting obsession over Valjean, and isn't specifically religious. A by product of condensing a 1200-something page novel into a three act musical is probably changing the characters out of necessity - and the musical is the most well known, which is where the impression originally mentioned supposedly comes from.
Also if you look at the crimes Valjean has committed by the end of the play, it's more than just stealing a loaf of bread. He attempts to escape from prison several times, breaks parole, and assaults a police officer, as well as participating in a revolution. Still a Determinator, but with more justified.
I just added an example in Character Exaggeration relating to this (changed handles in the mean time). Basically, in the book, Javert thinks Valjean is dead during the entire time Cosette grows up, until their paths cross again. In adaptations, the chronology is simplified so that instead of extra escapes and recaptures, when his identity is exposed, Valjean ends up knocking Javert out and fleeing prior to rescuing Cosette. So, It's Personal to a greater extent for Musical!Javert.
One thing that has always bothered this troper is that it seems like there are only 3 policemen in all of France. Javert, Javert's assistant (from the prologue) and the two guys who show up with Valjean at the Bishop's door. I feel like there should be a lot more policemen.... or does Javert have a bunch of clones that I didn't notice?
Does a story really need to have the entire police force seen or mentioned every time an officer appears? Javert appears alot because he's a main character. We don't assume that Thénardier owned the only inn in France either.
That adds up to four police officers.
Having only seen the musical, I don't know if this is addressed in the book, but... Why does Javert let Valjean go in the sewers? Why does he suddenly change his mind about him? He knew Valjean was at the barricade, so he certainly could have figured out that the man he was trying to help had been there also... Why would Javert suddenly see this as a noble thing, rather than an escaped convict helping a rebel guerilla? Why wouldn't he try to bring in both Valjean and Marius?
Presumably because by then he's seen Valjean have pity on Fantine, save the man trapped under the cart, save Champmathieu from a false conviction, and save his life, telling him where to find him. Almost every time they interact after the opening scene, Valjean's doing something heroic, and this is the last straw for Javert's black and white worldview.
It's addressed a bit more in the book, but the same point applies to the musical. By sparing Javert's life at the barricades, Valjean basically "killed" Javert. It's the first time in his life in which to act legally (arresting a ex-convict who broke parole) would be to act immorally (arresting the man who spared his life). Add to it the fact that Valjean clearly did it out of the goodness of his heart - he gave no terms or conditions to the act of mercy and even gave Javert his address for later. As for why Javert didn't arrest Marius as well, he's trying to arrest a good bit of the main cast, but he's not evil. If he took Marius right then and there, the kid would have died for sure. Valjean was the one wanting to give him medical treatment, and Marius probably wasn't going to go anywhere anytime soon if he did make it. As for why Javert left it on the honors system for Valjean to return, it ties in to him being unsure of whether it's right to act legally and arrest him, or morally and let him go. That's why he ultimately commits suicide. It's the only way he can think to solve the problem.
Just to add detail, in the book, Thénardier helps Valjean, who he thinks is an assassin, escape the sewers. Once outside, he runs into Javert, who helps him bring the badly wounded Marius (lots of cuts on his head, and the bullet that took him down went into his back and broke his shoulder blade) to his grandfather's house. Then he goes to Valjean's house with him, and when Valjean looks out the window, Javert is gone. Then his soliloquy-type thing happens.
Okay, this is a pretty insignificant question, but I was wondering if someone knew something I didn't. In the novel, Valjean's sister is described as having seven children. In the "Prologue" song of the musical, Valjean says, "My sister's child was close to death, and we were starving." Does anyone know why the number of children was changed?
Maybe one of her seven children was sick?
They were all hungry. But that one time, her youngest son would have died in the night unless someone did something.
But Valjean was arrested before he could give the child any food and the youngest child still survived.
For the same reason Éponine doesn't have a sister and Gavroche isn't mentioned as her brother, some of the details get left out when compressing a Door Stopper into a three hour musical.
"My sister's children were close to death" doesn't scan.
What bothers me a little in this story (musical) is that Javert tracks Valjean most of his life. but in the robbery ("could it be he's some on jail bird") Javert doesnt realize its him. after 19 years of being his prison guard, then ten years of knowing him as the mayor, would've Javert be able to reconize Valjean right away?
In the musical Javert only ever sees the back of Valjean's head and maybe a side glimpse of his face for a fleeting moment. In every production I've seen Valjean takes care to keep his face hidden from Javert for the brief time they are on stage together.
How on earth did Javert know the gun would misfire? Even if it had a 50% chance of doing so, which is likely, that's a pretty big chance that you are going to actually be shot. Seriously, is he psychic?
He didn't know. Javert believes himself to be doing the right thing so absolutely that the universe itself will protect him in his quest for justice. This is why he commits suicide at the end, because Valjean has rocked his worldview so much. The gun misfiring was lucky (or not so much, Thénardier is probably not that concerned with maintaining the thing and the weapons of the period were not exactly reliable). He told Thénardier it wouldn't fire because of his belief in his dogma, and that it misfires is just lucky.
Maybe he knows a tad bit about weapons (handling with them somewhat regulary and such - I would not go as far that he is an expert, but...) - Thénardier's room is in a horrible condition, his aquaintances most surely live under the same circumstances - it is quite possible that the air is quite damp. And we all know how embarassing it gets when your gunpowder gets damp. Javert's not a newbie to his work. Is is quite possible he has experience on the field... or maybe Hugo just wanted dear Monsieur l'Inspecteur to be even more Bad Ass than he already was.
When Javert says your gun will misfire, your gun will misfire.
Why wasn't Marius arrested after returning from the barricade? He was a revolutionary, they should have brought him to justice.
Possibly his grandfather (a wealthy and well-respected man who is still passionately loyal to the Royalists) wielded enough influence to convince the government to not press charges against the last, badly wounded survivor of a failed student rebellion.
IIRC - in the book, by the time Marius had recovered enough from his various wounds to be arrested, the King had declared a general amnesty with regards to participation in the rebellion so he was off the hook.
Fantine left Cosette with the Thénardiers because she wouldn't have been able to get a job as an unwed mother, but how would anyone know Cosette was illegitimate? Couldn't Fantine have claimed to be a widow, or even a woman whose husband ran out on her? I know people were supposed to have identifying papers of some kind, but I don't recall her having any at all (something I'm betting a lot of poor and/or homeless people — like Gavroche — wouldn't.) I can't imagine a factory would bother doing a thorough background check on a mere assembly worker. Failing that, couldn't she have had papers forged?
She would have had to move away from home, something she probably couldn't afford to do, in order to escape people who knew Cosette was illegitimate and the social stigma that came with it. Claiming to be widowed like that was probably common, and people she told that story to might still know Cosette was likely illegitimate; a proper marriage and all in the slums wasn't common, methinks. It is likely that a factory wouldn't do a background check, but would they let a woman work (I've no idea) and would they want someone so poor and desperate? She wouldn't have had the money to have papers forged.
Fantine was originally from Montreuil-sur-Mer but left when she was ten and when she was fifteen moved to Paris and had Cosette. By the time she came back to Montreuil-sur-Mer, no one even remembered her so faking being a widow should have been pretty simple. It was only the fact that she hid her child that made people realize she was illegitimate.
Fantine worked all day (and in the era before labor reforms, standardized work hours/work weeks) she wasn't able to work and take care of her child.
No but she could have hired someone in town to watch Cosette so she could still see her sometimes and see that Cosette was well-treated. It would also allow her to respond faster if a problem occured like an illness or something that required more money and, not needing to pay for postage, it would be cheaper for her.
Because Fantine was around 20 when she left Cosette with the Thénardiers and still assumed the best in people, and she was originally drawn to them because their daughters were so well cared-for. She had no reason to assume that they were anything other than upstanding people who would care for her child as best they could.
What does it matter how well-cared for the Thenardier children were and how well-cared for she assumed Cosette would be if this was all days away? Did she think she couldn't find someone who would take good care of her daughter in Montreuil?
At the barricade, why was Javert so quick to confess his identity when Enjolras asked him who he was? And then, when he thought he was going to die, he seemed totally content with his situation. I understand that Javert is the sort who always maintains his composure, but surely he didn't WANT to die? Didn't he have a duty to fulfill? And he came to the barricade with his police identification and a note from his superior on his person! Isn't Javert more cautious than that?
He probably didn't want to die but was just accepting of his incoming death. For him, its entirely sensible that an informant would be executed after being captured by rebels. It would fit right into his strict view of the world that he had lived by all his life. Being spared is where he starts to freak out because it contradicts this view. As for the ID and note, it probably would have been helpful when leaving the barricade to confirm that he was in fact with the government.
How could anyone possibly have mistaken the other man for Valjean since he wouldn't have had the telltale brand? Surely they would have checked before putting him on trial!
Well, in the musical, Javert says that Champmathieu actually did have a brand - "I have known the thief for ages/tracked him down through thick and thin/and to make the matter certain/there's that brand upon his skin." As for /why/ he had a brand...uh...um...I can't quite recall what the explanation was, if there even was one. At any rate, it wouldn't have been out of the question for the guy to be put on trial before fact checking; the judicial system was absolutely /terrible/, not to mention that the trial itself was, well...ugh. Not good.
What did Fantine ever see in Tholomyès? He was prematurely old and ugly at thirty, he refused to marry her after she had his child, and even before he decided it would be a 'grand farce' to just ditch her and his friends' girlfriends as a strange location and never return, his speech made it clear he was a pretentious asshole and could barely keep straight which girl was his. And even if the other girlfriends did not care enough about their boyfriends to be upset at being broken up with, why would they be amused by and laugh at being abandoned a decent distance from home and forced to find their own way back? That really should have pissed them off, not make them more fond of the people who ditched them!
Everything you say about Tholomyes is true, but love is blind. IIRC, he treated her — an unimportant orphan — like a queen, and the novel remarks that he had a way of talking that made him seem brilliant and original — at least to people who were kind of ignorant (read: Fantine). Doesn't everyone have that one ex who seems so clever and cool at first, and it's not until the breakup that you see everything crummy? Sadly for Fantine, her first boyfriend was Tholomyes, and she never got the chance to move on from him.
What happens with Valjean's sister and her kids? The musical mentions them exactly once, and they seem kind of important since he went to jail for stealing bread for them, but then he never mentions them again. You'd think he'd either try to find them or say something about how he's not going to go look for them because he's a criminal which apparently makes him feel compelled to avoid the people he cares about, but instead... nothing.
The novel does address this. A few years into his prison sentence, someone arrives who had known of him in Faverolles and had seen his sister in Paris. She only had her youngest son with her and the witness suspected she didn't even know where the others were. After Valjean is released and established as Madeleine, he makes inquiries at Faverolles trying to find them. Because of how insignificant and anonymous they were, Valjean was never able to locate any of them again and never found out what happened to them.
In the film of the musical, Valjean visits a grave. It's a simple grave, just a wooden cross on a pile of rocks, so there's no telling who's buried there. Possibly the sister (let's call her "Jeanne") and the kids were just scattered to the wind. It would add to Valjean's bitterness if Jeanne died after he went to prison to help her.
Here's an icky, squicky question... In the musical, why does it never occur to Fantine to go to the forman who fired her and ask for her job back, even if it meant agreeing to be his mistress? It's degrading and nauseating, yes... but surely safer then turning to the streets - where as we can see, she doesn't last very long.
I don't think the foreman was open to that. He didn't ask it of her, he just threw her right out because she hadn't been willing to earlier. And once he believed that she was sleeping with a bunch of random people, he didn't seem as interested.
Could also be the same reason she didn't go to Valjean for help. She refused to degrade herself before someone who wronged her. Heck, it took most of "Lovely Ladies" before she agreed to prostitution.
How was Marius capable of simultaneously being unable to believe that Valjean was even at the barricade and yet that he had viciously murdered Javert while there?
In the book, he clearly knows Valjean was at the barricade. It's hinted that he knows in the musical as well ("Then it's true/Then I'm right/Jean Valjean was my savior that night").
In the book he knows Valjean is there and vouches for him at the time but as time passes he has a difficult time believing that it was actually Valjean and not just some random guy who looked like him. Marius tests Valjean and asks him if he knows the street that the barricade was on and Valjean claims that he's never heard of it and then Marius accepts that Valjean was not actually there...until finding out that he was once a convinct and then he must have brutally murdered the spy they were going to kill anyway.
D'oh, you're right. And I just read the book, too. *facepalm*
Inspector Javert's career has encompassed the Ancien Regime of Louis XVI, the Reign of Terror, the Directory, The Consulate and Imperate of Napoleon, the restored Bourbon Monarchs Louis XVIII and Charles X, and finaly the July Monarchy of Louis Phillipe. That's a lot of different rulers and government forms. I can't believe that Javert managed to hold on to his invincible faith in the righteousness of Law and Government in the face of the Conspicuous Consumption of Marie Antoinette ("Let Them Eat Cake and all that), the Terror of the Jacobins and/or the Corruption of the Directors, continue to advance in his career, and still be alive, kicking, and still in law enforcement in time to become Valjean's parole officer, especially since Louis XVIII and Charles X weren't the type to believe in "truth and reconciliation." Wouldn't he have made more sense as a somewhat dour cynic who shrugs his shoulders when Valjean breaks parole, and rather than step forward to infiltrate the Friends of the ABC, simply be the one not stepping back, and overall behaving more like Benjamin from Animal Farm?
This may be hard for many of us to conceive, but Javert is a man of absolutes. God commands obedience to authority, and thus following authority without question is the only way to righteousness. In fact, the fact that he's served under so many different regimes makes this even clearer - it's not for him to decide which rule is legitimate or whose authority to follow. It's not that he believes that Law and Government is always Good and Just, but that it is the only way to create order in society.
When Valjean returned from the barricade, what did he tell Cosette? I assume it wasn't "I read your boyfriend's letter and went to the barricade to save him for you, but he almost died anyway, so I had to drag him through the sewers and bring him to his grandfather's house," so how did he explain how he 1) knew Cosette was in love with Marius, and 2) knew Marius was wounded?
IIRC, Cosette was not aware of any of that until later. She knew he had been wounded but didn't know the details. Remember, Marius had to tell her what was going on when they were reunited with Valjean at the end of the musical. (Of course, in the 2012 film adaption at least, he'd still have to explain why he was covered in poo.)
He got back pretty late. She might have well have been asleep and he cleaned up by the time she found him.
What's the time frame of Fantine's fall and eventual death supposed to be like? Watching the musical, it almost seems like her being fired, selling her hair, getting arrested, and dying happens within a single night, but that seems...weird, obviously.
Well in the book she loses her job but is given a little money to get by but she still has to sell all of her furniture. She makes a living sewing for most of the day for a few months but the Thenardiers keep asking for more money and then her wages are slashed because a local prison can provide the same labor for cheaper. The Thenardiers keep making demands so she sells her hair and then after awhile her teeth and a little while later becomes a prostitute. Yet more time passes and she gets arrested. It is two months after that that she dies.
When Valjean and Javert meet outside of the sewers, Valjean pleads for an hour in order to deliver Marius to safety, insisting "This man has done no wrong and he needs a doctor's care!" Um, no Valjean. He was at the barricades, fighting against the soldiers of the crown on his own, free will. It most certainly is enough to make him guilty of high treason, which is an automatic death sentence and the most serious offence after a murder.
I think Valjean would have said Marius was the Easter Bunny if he thought it would have helped. He was desperately trying to convince Javert, not necessarily speaking the truth or with regard to the law.
In the movie, Eponine steals Cosette's letter to Marius in which she explains to him that she needs to go away. Marius later comes to Cosette's house and sees she isn't home, but he never got the letter explaining why. He immediately starts to despair over Cosette's absense, even though for all he knows she could just be gone out for a buggy ride with Papa. He laments 'How can I live when we are parted?', which in this situation sounds a bit melodramatic.
They moved, though. All of their things would have been gone and since he went in a panic, it was clear that Eponine told him that Cosette and her father had cleared out so he went there to desperately see if it was true.
Why did Fantine just suddenly stop trying to reach Madeleine after she was sacked? In the movie, she only tries to call for him as she is thrown out and he is having a meeting with Javert. In other adaptations Madeleine falls ill by the time she comes asking, and is not received because of it. In the book it is said that the forewoman sends her on her way, claiming that the order has come from him when in truth she never even bothers to bring the matter into Madeleine's attention, and Fantine never even tries to reach him. Why does she simply drop the subject and never tries again, even though she knows that Cosette's life depends on her finding a place to work?
In the book Fantine has a lot of pride and it takes a very long time for her to lose that pride and be willing to seek him out. She doesn't go from factory worker to sous-less hair-less toothless prostitute overnight. She believes he was just to fire her and kind to give her 50 francs when he did so and so won't go asking for more and by the time that she is at the end of her rope she has started to hate Madeleine and think that he is a terrible and cruel man to blame for all of her problems and thus not the sort of man that would offer any help. In the movie, I think the lyrics "You were there and turned aside" are the key. Fantine was desperately begging him to save her before she was fired but after she was thrown out and Madeleine hadn't done anything, she must have assumed that the foreman told him what happened to her and he was fine with her being dismissed for having a child. Everyone in the factory was clamoring for it and even if the foreman hadn't been enraged by her refusal to sleep with him he likely would have fired her anyway. She knew her job would be in danger if it came out she had a child which is why she kept it quiet in the first place. She could have still tried but she believed she would only be refused and humiliated further (after all, if she is not even good enough to have a job there why would she be good enough for charity?) and so she did not.
The issue here is that "Madaline" aka Jean Vajean turned away from the issue of the 'working class' which worked at his factory but that's why he decides to raise Cosette because he feels guilty because its his fault that Fante became a 'lovely lady'.
He believes it's his fault, at least. He didn't know his foreman would choose to fire her over what appeared to be a minor factory dispute or that doing so would ruin her life, force her to become a prostitute, and ultimately kill her instead of doing the job he was supposed to do and in the book he had never heard of her or knew she got fired at all. It's really not his fault at all but he couldn't save everyone and wanted to make amends for not being perfect.
Javert assumes that Valjean's request to go save Cosette is just a lie to escape again. A few days later, he finds Cosette actually exists, and in the following years sees Valjean care for her as he promised. And yet he never doubted that Valjean was evil until after sparing him at the barricade?
Just because Cosette existed doesn't mean that Valjean would have come back a few days later. I don't think Javert particularly disbelieved her existence so much as didn't care. After all, if he didn't think she existed and Valjean would go there then why would he turn up at the Thenardiers' shortly after Valjean had left which would waste precious time if Cosette were not real or, at the very least, Valjean believed her to be real and was going after her. There are all sorts of nefarious reasons a criminal might want a child but even if he was legitimately going to do his best to raise her, loving a child does not automatically make one a really good person who has changed and does not deserve prison. Javert is well-aware that Valjean only ended up in prison in the first place because he loved his sister's child who was dying and was trying to save him. It's just another excuse to him. And maybe love for Cosette would lead him to go off and commit more crimes (and, in fact, it did if she was the only reason he did not let himself be arrested and instead to be a fugitive for a few more years).
In the musical, what happens to Jean Valjean at the barricade? He falls like the students, but in the end he just gets up and carries Marius into the sewers. By the way, how did he know that Marius was still alive and why didn't he check if he could help anyone else?
He probably felt a pulse. It doesn't seem at all difficult to tell if someone is alive or not. And how would he have been able to help anybody else? Everyone was dead or unconscious and he barely made it through the sewers with one person. He would not have made it if he tried to carry two. There was really no other escape route even if he had been able to wake someone else up. He barely made it through the sewers even with his incredible strength and there is no way that an average person, even uninjured (and they all would have been hurt pretty badly) would have been able to do it. I don't know what you mean by 'what happens to Jean Valjean?' It seems like you answered your own question. He likely got a minor wound and then saw Marius was down so it was time to leave. He also didn't have all the time in the world to go seeing if everyone was still alive for the time being.
In the musical, if Javert is a devout Christian, why does he swear by the stars like a pagan?
In Javert's mind, the stars represent God's will. They're orderly and predictable, they give light to the darkness, and on the rare occasion they fall, they fall "in flame," an explicit metaphor for the way sinners who stray from the proper path are condemned to Hell. It's anything but pagan to him.