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Les Miserables Hero's Journey

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by

Maggie Jokinen

on 11 March 2014

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Transcript of Les Miserables Hero's Journey

The Hero: Jean Valjean
Separation
When the bishop gives Valjean food and a place to sleep, he transforms him. Everyone that Valjean encountered previously had turned him away for being a former convict, but the bishop shows him unnecessary kindness and compassion. His selfless actions show Valjean that the world is indeed a good place and that there is a God. Valjean rushes outside, rips up his parole papers, and begins his new life as Monsieur Le Maire.
Valjean is experiencing the call to become a better person and to turn his life around. At this moment, he embarks on his journey to a better life -- and the run from his old one.

Threshold

Threshold
The threshold Valjean has to overcome is making the decision to begin a new life. He can never be accepted into society as a former convict, so he must erase his old identity. It is a tough decision for him, but he wants to turn his life around. He rips up his parole papers, the only official documents binding him to his old life. With this, he could have lived a happy life, if it weren't for the ruthless Javert.
The threshold guardian, as expected, is Javert. His permanent presence in Valjean's life makes him hesitant to run away from his old life. Whether consciously or not, Valjean knows that Javert will eventually find him if he passes over the threshold and and breaks his parole.
Threshold Guardian
Helpers
The bishop plays a major role in Les Miserables as a helper. He shows Valjean that there is goodness in the world, and makes him a religious man. He gives Valjean food and a place to sleep, saying "What we have, we have to share." If it weren't for the kindess of this man, Valjean would have never heard The Call, and Les Miserables would not be much of a story.
A helper throughout the entire movie is Cosette. She serves as a constant reminder in Valjean's life of the decision to live a better life. Everything he does, he does for her. She keeps Valjean an honest man simply by being in his life.
Initiation/Transformation
Challenges
A Moral Struggle
After Valjean becomes the mayor of his city, he hears word that a different man has been arrested and was accused of being Jean Valjean. The real Valjean is presented with a difficult decision: to turn himself in or stay to help his people. If he turns himself in, along with being in jail again, his town is bound to suffer. If he lets the other man take the fall, his town will once again prosper, but he will have a guilt-ridden conscience.
Fontaine
When Valjean encounters Fontaine, she is an impoverished mother that has resorted to prostitution to keep her daughter alive. She is very sick, and when she is dying, Valjean promises her that her daughter will want for nothing. With this, he takes on the challenge of caring for Cosette.
Cosette
One of the major challenges that Valjean faces is caring for Cosette. Because of the promise he made to Fontaine, he always does the best he can for Cosette. From keeping himself out of jail to saving Marius from dying in battle, everything he did was for Cosette. The challenge of caring for a daughter was not an easy one, but it was one he accepted voluntarily.
Running from Javert
From the moment of passing over the threshold, Valjean was constantly evading the relentless Javert. He longs to be only Monsieur Le Maire, and for Jean Valjean to be forgotten. But, Javert has become too obsessed and rigid with his interpretation of the law for that to happen. He has devoted his entire life to giving Valjean justice, and will not stop until he has been imprisoned for his crime. Valjean is constantly troubled by the worry of Javert finding him, and tries to keep Cosette and himself away from trouble.
The Abyss
Valjean's final challenge is when Marius is wounded, and in an attempt to save his life and escape from the battle, he has to carry him through the sewers. When he finally escapes the sewers, covered in excrement, he comes face to face with Javert for the last time. He convinces Javert to let him live so that he can save Marius. Thinking that he has betrayed the law, Javert can no longer go on living and kills himself.
The Abyss
Valjean's final challenge is to keep Marius alive after he has been shot. He carries him through the vile and disgusting sewers to escape the battle because he knows that Marius will take care of Cosette after he is dead. At the exit of the sewers, Javert, of course, is waiting for him. Valjean convinces Javert to let him live so he can save Marius; he can kill him after. Feeling that he has betrayed the law, Javert kills himself, ending their lifelong battle.
Revelation and Atonement
After the suicide of Javert, Valjean experiences a major change in his attitude of his life. He no longer has someone to be constantly running from, and he can rest. Cosette, who he is devoted to caring for, is now planning to marry Marius. Now that he can care for her, Valjean has no purpose in life, and he can finally rest.
Gift
Valjean's gift, although seemingly strange, is death. All his life he has been struggling and facing many challenges. He is physically and mentally tired, and now that he doesn't have to worry about Cosette, he only wants rest.
Return
After his death, Fontaine returns Valjean to the person who started his entire journey: the bishop. The bishop showed him there was a God and changed his life. This is very significant because the bishop welcomed him into his new life, as well as his death.
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