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Light Imagery in Les Misérables

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Danielle Hillman

on 13 March 2014

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Transcript of Light Imagery in Les Misérables

Throughout Les Misérables, light imagery is utilized to show moments of rebirth and a new and positive beginning, specifically in the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, and Cosette.
Novel Analysis
Jean Valjean
Film Analysis
Lighting techniques are used in
Les Misérables
to show the theme of rebirth. During the characters' nadirs in their lives, the lighting the movie is dark and eerie. This technique emanates the emotions that the character are feeling at this point in their lives.
Song Analysis
Suddenly the world
Seems a different place
Somehow full of grace,
Full of
How was I to know then so much hope
Was held inside me?
What is past is gone,
Now we journey on through the night

Works Cited
Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables. New York: Signet Classics, 2013. Print.
Light in the Darkest of Times
by Danielle Hillman
Ms. Donze
World Literature (1)
13 March 2014
Throughout Les Misérables, light imagery is utilized to show moments of rebirth and a new and positive beginning, specifically in the characters of
Jean Valjean
, and
“Jean Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from
thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to
!” (Hugo 106).
“She has just seen herself somehow disputed by two opposing powers. Before her eyes she had seen a struggle between two men who held in their hands her liberty, her life, her soul, her child; one of these men was drawing her to the side of
, the other was leading her toward the
” (198).
“Cosette raised her eyes; she saw the man approach her with that doll as she would have seen the
approach” (408).
Context: The Bishop of Digne gives Jean Valjean some silver and candlesticks after Valjean stole the from him.
Context: Fantine is being saved by Monsieur Madeleine (Jean Valjean) from being imprisoned by Javert for protecting herself from the man who put snow down her dress.
Analysis: This shows Fantine's new future for both her and Cosette. Jean Valjean is leading her into the light and her redemption.
Context: This is the point in the novel where Jean Valjean meets Cosette and tries to rescue her from the Thenardiers for Fantine.
Analysis: This quote presents Jean Valjean as a Christ figure, especially for Cosette. He will be the the light and hope that will pull her out of the darkness of the Thenardiers. With this new found light, she will be able to have a bright future.
Analysis: This point in the novel is Valjean's major turning point as a character. With the grace of the bishop, he turns from the darkness toward the good of God. These candlesticks and his promise to the bishop serve as guides of light on his path to redemption.
How was I to know at last
That happiness can come so fast?
Trusting me the way you do
I'm so afraid of failing you
Just a child who cannot know
That danger follows where I go
There are
And memories I cannot share.
Nevermore alone
Nevermore apart
You have
my heart
Like the
You have brought the gift of
And love, so long denied me.
Suddenly I see
What I could not see
Something suddenly
Has begun.

Throughout the song "Suddenly," sung by Jean Valjean as he is bringing home Cosette from the Thenardiers. He has not only himself experienced a rebirth with this new responsibility, but he has also given Cosette a chance for renewal. He has granted her the opportunity for a bright future. This is reflected through the light imagery in the song.
Jackman, Hugh. Suddenly. Polydor Records, 2012. Suddenly Lyrics. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
Suddenly you're here,
Suddenly it starts
Can two anxious hearts
Beat as one?
Yesterday I was alone
Today you are beside me,
Something still unclear,
Something not yet here
Has begun
"Les Miserables (2012 Movie) Cosette." Cosette. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Jean Valjean Gives Cosette a Doll." Pinterest. N.p., 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Category Archives: Movie Reviews." Southern Gospel Yankee. Wordpress, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
Burke, Kristin M. "Les Misérables." Frocktalk. N.p., 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Les Miserables- Fantine." There Is Beauty All Around. N.p., 12 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Les Miserables Screenshot Young Cosette." Turn The Right Corner. Wordpress, 24 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Film: Les Miserables." In the 239. Universal Pictures, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
Les Miserables
. Dir. Tom Hooper. Prod. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, and Cameron Mackintosh. By William Nicholson, Alain Boubil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, and Herbert Kretzmer. Perf. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen. Universal, 2012. DVD.
Comparably, when the characters reach their moment of rebirth, the lighting in the movie brightens and illuminates the character. The light signifies their spiritual renewal and the new beginning that they have been granted.
Hogan, Mike. "'Les Misérables' Screening Earns Standing Ovation For Tom Hooper, Anne Hathaway." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
Murphy, Austin. "The Bishop Works." Jesus Goes to Disney World. N.p., 3 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
"Les Misérables - Film Review." Weekend Notes. N.p., 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
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