And remember the truth that once was spoken
To love another person is to see the face of God
I don’t want it to end. Every time I watch the play, I don’t want it to end. You look forward to so many good songs and one by one they end. Finally, Jean Valjean is alone in a chair. He’s alone the way he was alone in the beginning of the play.
Then, the ghosts of Fantine and Eponine come to keep him company on his way home. You’re on the edge of your seat, willing Valjean to hang on until Cosette can reach him. Marius has just discovered—through the unintentional help of Thenardier—that Valjean was his rescuer from the barricades. He and Cosette are rushing to Valjean’s residence, but neither of them know he is dying.
When they arrive, they are shocked to see him at the end of his days. But Valjean is overjoyed to have them near. He has just finished praying for them, hoping to see Cosette one last time. Then she’s there and able to love him and receive love from him before he departs.
Simplicity. That’s the strength of the story. Valjean doesn’t impact a hundred people or a thousand people. He impacts two people. In his entire life, all he has left behind is Cosette and her husband. But he has loved them, and loved them well. He gives Cosette the tools she needs to live the life he never could. She won’t have to run from a past or run from the law. She won’t have to hide in shadows. She won’t have to starve, because he’s left her a fortune. He worked, ran, bled, died to give Cosette a hope and a future.
That’s why we love this story. That’s why it resonates with us. We are created to long for salvation. In the end, salvation comes. There is a high cost for that salvation, but it comes non-the-less. There is pain and there is joy, but no true joy can come without pain.
First performance: October 8, 1985
Composer: Claud-Michel Schönberg
Adapted from: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Playwrights: Alain Boublil, Claud-Michel Schönberg
Lyricists: Herbert Kretsmer, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel
Quoted: Valjean’s Death