Jean Valjean: A very naughty boy

If you’ve watched the fabulous 3 hour behemouth that is ‘Les Miserables’, you’ll probably regard Jean Valjean as one of the heros of musical theatre. But there is more to the tragic yet melodically perfect character than you might first think.

Jean Valjean kickstarts his life of crime with — wait for it — a loaf of bread. Not a diamond, not gold, not even a pair of silver candlesticks. Clearly, Valjean wasn’t loafing around when it came to feeding his sister’s child. While many of us might “Dream a Dream” of finer things, Valjean’s ambitions were a bit more…carb-loaded.

And then comes the monumental decision to break parole. Not just content with that, our hero assumes a new identity—Monsieur Madeleine. Imagine the scene: Valjean standing in front of a mirror, practising his new signature or trying on different hats to complete his ensemble. “Do mayors wear top hats or berets? Hmmm.”

If there was a 19th-century French equivalent of the Witness Protection Program, Valjean would be its poster boy. Just when you think you’ve got his name down, he swaps it faster than Marius falls in love at first sight. Is he 24601? Is he Jean Valjean? Is he Monsieur Madeleine? Or just the old man?

Javert and Valjean: The World’s Worst Game of Hide and Seek

Speaking of Javert, Valjean’s cat-and-mouse game with the stoic inspector who thinks he’s something makes you wonder if they secretly enjoyed these chases. I mean, Paris is big, but it’s not that big. It’s getting on for slapstick: a chase here, a confrontation there – it’s like watching Tom & Jerry, but with more singing and less fur.

With the way Javert sings about Valjean, it’s hard to tell if he’s out for justice, hoping for a duet, or whether he has a little bit of a crush on JVJ.

Though, honestly, Valjean. Couldn’t you just sit down with the man for a croissant and clear the air? Get that bromance out in the open, for goodness sake.

Cosette: Savior or Ultimate Disguise?

So, Valjean decides to save Cosette from the Thenardiers. Some might see this as an act of heroism, rescuing her from a life of drudgery and questionable inn songs. But is there more? Was it just a cynical move? After all, having a child in tow is the perfect cover: “No, officer, I can’t be that bread thief you’ve heard of! Look, I have a child!” He basically bought a child on the black market, bribed her with a doll, and then kept her locked up for the next 12 or so years without any friends or companions other than himself. When you put it like that…

A Barricade of Deception

If there’s one thing we can learn from Valjean, it’s that if you’re going to build a barricade, make sure it’s around your true identity. And perhaps, amidst the chaos and stolen silver candlesticks, slip in a few revolutionary friends who can cover for you when things get heated.

The Grand Takeaway: Les Mastermind of Les Misérables

Through the winding streets of Paris, the tear-filled laments of Fantine, and Enjolras’ ever-waving red flag, Valjean dances to his own sneaky beat. While most of the characters are busy lamenting their past and hoping for a better tomorrow, Jean’s too busy plotting his next grand escape.

So, raise a glass (or a loaf) to Jean Valjean, the man who proved that in a world of Miserables, a little mischief can go a long way. Just remember, if you ever find yourself in a tight spot in Paris, always ask: “What Would Valjean Do?”

The answer is probably: “Change your name and run.”