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Les Miserables

Convict Jean Valjean has been imprisoned in Touloun, France for 19 years after stealing bread and trying to escape, however at the start of 'Les Miserables' he has finally been granted parole by policeman Javert. One of the conditions of parole is that he must wear a yellow ticket-of-leave which marks him out as an ex-convict so upon leaving the prison Valjean finds that he is immediately shunned by society.

A priest takes pity on the desperate Valjean and offers him food and shelter for the night, however Valjean betrays this trust when he attempts to steal the chapel's expensive silverwear, getting caught in the process. When he is arrested however the priest lies to defend Valjean, saying that the silverware was a gift to help him, and gives him a further two precious candlesticks. However he tells Valjean that he has bought his soul for God and that he must use the silverware to live a more honest life. Jean Valjean vows to do so and rips up his yellow ticket.

8 years later Valjean is now a wealthy and successful factory owner and the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer under his new identity of Monsieur Madaleine. However there is a disturbance within his factory when an argument breaks out between Fantine, a worker who has secretly been sending money to her illigitimate child Cosette, and the other women, who demand that she be sacked. As Fantine has previously spurned the factory foreman's advances he agrees to dismiss her and she soon finds herself on the streets and is forced to sell a precious locket, her hair and finally become a prostitute. When she gets into an altercation with an abusive customer she is arrested by Javert, who is now stationed in Montreuil-sur-Mer, but when Valjean arrives he intervenes, realising that he has been involved in her demise and instead asking Javert to take her to a hospital.

Javert is reminded of the missing prisoner, Valjean, who he has been seeking for many years to try and recapture him and take him back to prison when he sees Valjean lift a cart off a man in a street. He comments to him that he reminds him of someone because of his unbelievable strength but later remarks that Valjean has recently been re-arrested. Valjean considers that this man could be his way out, however as he thinks he realises that he can not let an innocent man go to jail for his crime and so he confesses his true identity to the court.

Valjean rushes to the hospital where Fantine is and promises to fetch Cosette, reassuring the weak, delirious Fantine who finally dies. When Javert finds Valjean he begs him for just three days to go and find Cosette and ensure her safety and security, however Javert refuses to believe Valjean's honest and honourable intentions and a fight breaks out between the two - with Valjean finally overcoming Javert and escaping once again.

The scene switches to Cosette who lives in Montfermeil with the Thernadiers, a sly, scheming couple who currently own an Inn and use it to scam customers. They make Cosette work in the Inn as a servant while they spoil their own daughter Eponine and so Cosette dreams of being able to get away and be in a family where she is loved and where she no longer has to work. It is when she is out in the woods collecting water that Valjean finds her - he goes back to the Inn and offers to pay the Thernadiers so that he can take her away, explaining that her mother Fantine has died. The Thernadier's quickly agree however later on they regret that they could have asked for much more money.However, it is too late as Cosette and Valjean are already on their way to Paris.

The musical then changes to Paris, nine years later. There is unrest and discontent throughout the city due to the impending death of General Lamarque - a well liked politician due to the fact that he shows mercy to the poor, unlike the other members of the government. The poor of Paris mingle on the streets alongside students Marius, Enjolras, and street urchin Gavroche where they discuss the current upheaval. The Thernadiers are also now in Paris, leading a street gang in conning unsuspecting people having lost their Inn. They are preparing to con two charitable people - Cosette and Valjean who they have not yet recognised. Eponine bumps into Marius who she secretly loves and tells him to stay away - however this leads to Marius inadvertently bumping into Cosette and falling in love with her immediately - much to Eponine's dismay. Marius protects Cosette from Thernadier's gang when they attack however Thernadier finally recognises Valjean, the attack is only broken up when Eponine returns to warn everyone of Javert's approach. Cosette and Valjean escape before Javert arrives but Thernadier tells Javert of a brand that he had seen on Valjean - Javert vows to find and recapture Valjean. Eponine has also recognised Cosette from when they were children together and, despite her own feelings, reluctantly agrees to help Marius find her again.

The musical cuts to a cafe where Enroljas is busy talking to a group of students, trying to prepare them for the revolution. Marius arrives and tells his friend of his new found love where he is mocked - until Gavroche arrives and announces the death of General Lamarque. The students then march into the streets in an attempt to garner support for their cause. Cosette is safe in Valjean's house but laments that although she too has fallen in love with Marius she knows nothing about her past and where she has come from. Eponine takes Marius to Cosette and looks on sadly as they confess their love for each other - however she is able to stop her father's attempted robbery of Valjean's house by screaming - alerting Valjean who believes that Javert has found him and convincing him that he and Cosette must flee the country for their safety.

On the eve of the uprising Marius is conflicted as he has won the love of Cosette but he also feels compelled to join his friends in rising up against the French Government in support of the country's poor. After Eponine takes him to the other students he realises that he must stay and fight with them, however he does not realise that Eponine has also decided to stay and join in secret. Act One closes with the students preparing for the next day, Javert discussing his plans to spy on the students with his soldiers and the Thernadiers hiding underground - gleefully planning on looting the corpses from the battle. Everybody considers what will happen tomorrow.

Act Two opens with the students building a barricade and a disguised Javert offering to spy on the governments troops. Marius, having recognised a disguised Eponine asks her to deliver a farewell letter to Cosette, however it is intercepted by Valjean who reads it and discovers their love. The French Army position themselves in front of the students barricade demanding their surrender, however Javert lies and says that they will not attack that night - Gavroche then exposes him as a spy. When Eponine tries to cross back from delivering the letter she is shot, however she dies in Marius' arms after telling him that she loved him and reassuring him that she feels no pain. The students rally in Eponine's name as she is the first victim of the conflict, and Enjolras attempts to comfort a devastated Marius. Valjean arrives at the barricades just as the first battle starts to break out and saves Enjolras' life by shooting a sniper from the French Army. He has come searching for Marius but he also asks that he is the one to execute the now captive Javert - to which Enjolras agrees. When they are alone however Valjean frees Javert - Javert believes that Valjean is trying to strike a bargain for his own freedom and he refuses, however Valjean tells him that he commends him for doing his duty and that he is not trying to form any bargain. As Javert escapes Valjean fires a shot into the air so that the students believe that he has executed Javert.

The students begin to settle down for the night, however Enjolras tells them to still remain alert in case of an attack - he tells Marius to get some sleep as he is still devastated from the loss of Eponine, and as he discusses whether Cosette will remember him if he dies Valjean prays to God that Marius is saved - even if it is at the cost of his own life. 

The next day it is apparant that the people of Paris have not risen up to support the students againt the French Army but they decide to fight till the last man standing. Gavroche, Enjolras and all the other students are killed but Valjean manages to escape into the sewers with a seriously wounded Marius. As they rest Thernadier finds them - having spent the night robbing from corpses - and steals a ring from Marius. When they finally reach the exit Javert is there waiting for them- ready to bring Valjean into custody, however Valjean pleads with Javert to grant him just one hour so that he can take the desperately ill and wounded Marius to a doctor. Javert reluctantly agrees however his concept of Valjean the villianous convict and this merciful Valjean come into conflict and he ends up taking his life by jumping into the River Seine, having had his beliefs on justice truly shaken.

In the streets of Paris, the people are mourning the loss of the students and Marius grieves for his dead friends. He does not know that it was Valjean who saved him and so wonders who did but when he bumps into Cosette the two reunite and reaffirm their love for each other. Valjean agrees that they may be together and confesses about his past to Marius - however he asks that he never tell Cosette the truth so as to protect her and explains that he must still flee the country.

A few months later it is Cosette's and Marius' wedding and the Thernadier's turn up in disguise as 'The Baron and Baroness du Thenard'. After Marius sees through their act Thenardier attempts to try and blackmail the couple by telling Marius that he saw Valjean carrying a corpse through the sewer on the night of the battle - yet when he displays the ring he took as proof of this deed, it dawns on Marius that it was Valjean that had saved him. Revolted, he strikes the Thenardiers and takes Cosette to try and track down Valjean whilst, true to form, the Thenardiers rejoice their survival and stay to enjoy the party.

The final scene shows Valjean on his deathbed at a convent. The spirit of Fantine comes to him and reassures him that he has been forgiven by God and earnt a place in heaven, as well as thanking him for raising her daughter. As Cosette and Marius arrive Valjean gives thanks to god for letting him see Cosette again before he dies, and he also presents her with a letter explaining all about his and her mother Fantine's past. Marius thanks him for saving his life and as Valjean passes away he sees the spirits of Fantine and Eponine who have arrived to guide him into heaven and the afterlife. The musical ends as they are joined by the people who had died at the barricades.


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