character analysis

Jean Valjean: Crossover from Criminal Life to Godly Life

The Old Jean Valjean (His Past Life) as Prisoner 24601
The Old Jean Valjean (His Past Life) as Prisoner 24601

The film Les Miserables , originally adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel of the same title, tells the story of a peasant who was condemned for a crime of stealing a loaf of bread just to feed his starving nephew and sentenced to 19 years of imprisonment. Jean Valjean, embittered by his prison experience, commits a property crime against a kind priest who gave him shelter for the night. Rather than being accused for theft, the priest saved him from imprisonment and forgave him for his act, leading Jean Valjean to repent of his sin and start a new beginning – crossing over from his criminal life to a godly life where he commits himself to a life of service and virtue.

The Old/Past Jean Valjean (Prisoner 24601)

Jean Valjean as Prisoner 24601
Jean Valjean as Prisoner 24601

From Valjean’s old life, we could see the hatred in his eyes and feel the anguish he shows toward those who mistreated him and blames those people as the guilty ones. In his soliloquy after having been saved and forgiven by the priest, though he has repented of his sin, he still has this hatred toward the world… ‘For I had come to hate the world.. this world that always hated me.’

I’ll escape now from that world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin…

The New and Restored Jean Valjean

The New And Restored Jean Valjean
The New And Restored Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean strips off his identity as Prisoner 24601 and starts a new life the moment he surrenders his life to God and takes a child of a dying woman under his care, loving her and treating her as his own daughter. His feeling of hatred was replaced by love as he continues to look after Cosette up to the time she grows up to be a woman.

Jean Valjean was no longer a slave to his sin and hatred as he puts his hope and trust in God and learns to love and forgive. He was set free.

 

 

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