|Also Known As||
1833 (aged 64)
|Cause of Death||
Jean Valjean (father)
Jean Valjean is the main protagonist of Les Misérables.
NovelEditValjean was born into a poor peasant family. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him with his older sister to fend for him. Unfortunately, his sister is widowed, having seven children to look after, the eldest being eight and the youngest being one year old. Valjean found work as a tree pruner in Faverolles, the same as his father, earning only a few sous a day. Winter passed. Valjean could not work, and so the family starved. He became a convict, imprisoned for breaking the window pane of Maubert Isabeau, the baker, to steal a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. He was sent to prison for five years for "burglary at night in an inhabited house". He is paroled from prison 19 years later (after 4 unsuccessful escape attempts added 12 years, and fighting back during the second escape attempt added 2 extra years). The conditions must have been uncomfortable, due to Valjean mentioning sleeping on a wooden bed.
He entered the galleys in Toulon in 1796 and left in 1815. He tries to find an inn after he leaves, but is turned away, due to being a former convict. A woman sees him trying to find a shelter, and tells him to go to the church, where he encounters the bishop Monsieur Myriel of Digne who turns his life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a changed man. While sitting and pondering on what Monsieur Myriel had said, he accidentally puts his foot on a forty-sous piece dropped by a young chimney-sweep named Petit Gervais. Valjean threatens him with his stick when he attempts to rouse Valjean from his reverie and retrieve his piece. He tells a passing priest his name, and the name of the young chimney-sweep, and this allows the police to charge him with armed robbery, a sentence that, if he were caught again, would return him to prison with a death-sentence.
Several years later, Valjean fulfills his promise to Monsieur Myriel and becomes a changed man under the alias Monsieur Madeleine in the city of Montreuil-sur-Mer. After a few years in the city, he is elected mayor and revolutionizes the city's economy, building many factories and creating many jobs. He became a very famous, influential, popular, and charitable man.
After unwittingly letting his foreman dismiss a factory worker named Fantine, he accidentally becomes wrapped up in the events that ruined her life, making her fall into poverty. After realising the damage he had done, he had the former worker taken from the custody of Javert and sent to a hospital, where he swore to bring her child to her side.
Meanwhile, Valjean discovered that Javert, the police inspector who had recently began working under his supervision in the city, had recognized him as Valjean. He was visited by the inspector whose guilt over his accusations (that he was told to be false) made him wish for dismissal. After letting Javert remain at his post, Valjean set off to find the man who was to go to sentence in his place.
After admitting to being the convict, Valjean returned to Fantine's bedside, where he was confronted by Javert. After hearing Javert cry out Madeleine's true identity and the fact that her daughter was not present, Fantine lost her will to live and died of her illness. Valjean surrendered to Javert, but swiftly escaped to rescue Cosette, Fantine's daughter.
After successfully rescuing Cosette, Valjean was offered shelter in a convent by Fauchelevant, an old man who he had rescued from beneath his cart while he was mayor. After smuggling Valjean in initially, he later had to smuggle him out in a coffin for him to stay officially. Valjean stayed in the convent with Cosette as his own daughter.
Jean Valjean was an adventurous, brave and selfless man. This is shown frequently throughout the story: He attempts to steal a loaf of bread to save his nephew, he sent Fantine to the hospital when it was evident she was dying, he went to save Cosette from the Thénardiers and hid them both from Javert at the heart of Paris, and he also did everything in his capability to keep Marius Pontmercy alive. He was highly intelligent and extremely perceptive; he could see past the Thénardiers' attempts to keep Cosette as a petty servant and also was able to determine Javert's fear of mercy. Due to his own fear of being made a slave again, Valjean suffered from extreme paranoia and desperation. His fear of going back to prison led him to be on the run for the rest of his life. It also made him fear for his own life and for the lives of those around him, particularly that of Cosette. However, Valjean made up for this with his enormous capacity for courage, shown in his heroic efforts to rescue Marius from the soldiers when the latter was seriously injured.
Due to his twenty years spent as a slave, Valjean was extremely strong and agile. He could carry incredible weight, including fallen masts and carts, with borderline ease and used his strength to fight off Javert in the hospital. He was also aware of his own strength, as he warned Javert of his physical power, despite the latter refusing to cease attacking. He was a fairly skilled marksman, as he managed to escape the Revolution with his life. His strength also gave him an edge in unarmed combat.
- "At The End Of The Day"
- "Javert's Introduction" (2012 film only)
- "Fantine's Arrest"
- "The Runaway Cart"
- "Javert's Apology" (2012 film only)
- "Who Am I?"
- "Come to Me (Fantine's Death)"
- "The Confrontation"
- "The Well Scene"
- "The Bargain/The Thénardier Waltz of Treachery"
- "Suddenly" (2012 film only)
- "The Convent" (2012 film only)
- "The Robbery/Javert's Intervention"
- "In My Life"
- "The Attack on Rue Plumet"
- "One Day More"
- "Building the Barricade (Upon These Stones)"
- "Night of Anguish"
- "The First Attack"
- "Bring Him Home"
- "The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche)"
- "Dog Eats Dog (The Sewers)"
- "Every Day"
- "Valjean's Confession"
- "Suddenly (reprise)" (silent (2012 film only))
- "Valjean's Death"
- Like in the novel, in the English musical production, Valjean's slave number is 24601. However, in the Spanish version of the musical it is 23623.
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