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Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean Portrait
Biographical information
Also Known As

24601
Monsieur Madeleine
Monsieur Le Maire
Ultime Fauchelevent
Monsieur Leblanc
Urbain Fabre
9430

Gender

Male

Born

1769

Died

1833 (aged 64)

Cause of Death

Old age/Grief

Family

Jean Valjean (father)
Jeanne Mathieu (mother)
Unnamed brother
Jeanne (sister)
Unnamed nieces and nephews
Cosette (adoptive daughter)

Behind the scenes
Portrayer

see list

Jean Valjean is the main protagonist of Les Misérables.

NovelEdit

Jean-Valjean-as-Monsieur-Madeleine

Jean Valjean as Monsieur Madeleine

Valjean 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 was 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 18 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. Before finding Cosette, he was again recaptured but escaped by faking his death falling off a ship into the sea after rescuing an endangered sailor.

Valjean saved Cosette from the Thénardiers but was pursued by Javert. He and Cosette escaped into a convent and were offered shelter there by Fauchelevant, an old man whose life Valjean had saved while he was mayor. After smuggling Valjean in initially, Fauchelevent later had to smuggle him out in a coffin for him to stay officially. Valjean was accepted into the convent posing as Fauchelevent's brother with Cosette as his granddaughter.

PersonalityEdit

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.

Valjean was extremely strong, much stronger even than the other inmates at the prison. 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 even more agile than he was strong, able to easily climb walls. He was a skilled marksman, as he severed two ropes holding up a mattress with one shot apiece and deterred the National Guard from posting watchmen by shooting their helmets off without killing them. His strength also gave him an edge in unarmed combat.


MusicalEdit

SongsEdit

Act IEdit

Act IIEdit

External LinksEdit

TriviaEdit

  • 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.
  • Jean Valjean doesn't know how to read.
    • However during his time in prison, he learned how to read.
  • Jean Valjen's parents died, his mother died because of milk fever and his father died due to falling from a tree, possibly while pruning the tree.
  • Jean Valjean stole bread in 1795.
    • Jean Valjean was put to jail a year after he stole bread.
  • Jean Valjean was freed in 1815.
  • During Jean's visit to jail,he got amesia.
  • Jean got his job as a tree pruner,at age 25.
  • Jean taught Cosette how to read and spell.
  • Jean spent 23 francs at Thénardier's Inn

GalleryEdit

2012 FilmEdit

MusicalEdit

1998 FilmEdit

To see more photos, click here.

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