What is the aesthetic value of the musical Les Miserables based upon Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Here are some opinions on the musical's aesthetic value:

  • The essential theme of the injustices against Jean Valjean is presented adequately in the musical.  The marking of Valjeanas a criminal for stealing food for his family, and the retribution sought against him even after he becomes a kind and generous man are well presented. In the musical, the evil of this hounding of Valjean is evinced in the character of Inspector Javert who appears and reappears.  His sinister presence is well represented in the musical score and with his vocals, although these thoughts are not revealed in the novel. Perhaps because more of his soul is presented in the musical, the tragedy of his death is enhanced in the musical.
  • The themes of change and transformation in Valjean and the class conflicts are also presented well, albeit not as thoroughly, in the musical.  The poignancy of the love that Valjean has for Cosette and her love for Marius is aesthetically enhanced with the musical score and vocals as well as the human presence of actors on a stage.
  • The presentation of the inn keepers, the villainous Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, in the musical is one of comic relief.  However, these nefarious characters are anything but funny in the original narrative.  For, Madame Thenardier mistreats Cosette cruelly, beating and starving the child.  The unconscionable M. Thenardier is a deserter in battle, and robs the dead soldiers.  His life is one of crime, although he does aid Valjean in escaping from the sewers.  In the musical the Thenardiers are made up as clownish figures and presented in a farcical way that is completely out of character.  Their characterization is a travesty of the villainous personages they should be.  Perhaps they have been given the comic roles to entertain children, but this design seems inappropriate, nevertheless.

 

 

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