Saturday, 13 October 2012

Les Misérables

 "Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 2:268)

"Les Misérables" is one of my favourite novel by Victor Hugo. Today for the first time I watched the musical theatre version pieces live, at Subiaco's Regal Theatre, Perth. It was really a nice show.

The story principally focusing on the struggles of the protagonist' ex-convict Jean Valjean who seeks to redeem himself but cannot escape his dark past. Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s seven starving children and sent to prison for five years. However, he is paroled from prison nineteen years later because tried to escape. Rejected by society for being a former convict, he encounters a Bishop who turns his life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a new man.

Here, we then watch as he transform his life and brings hope to others in the midst of economic and political turmoil. When a ruthless police inspector recognizes Valjean, he is forced to face his past. Eventually, when justice is satisfied, and as the people of France call for freedom, Valjean is freed from the burden of his crime.

The theme throughout Les Misérables is the detrimental effect of poverty on traditional family values.  Much of the novel, focuses on the plight of those low on the socioeconomic sphere who are moral people driven to immoral actions by the simple need to ensure the survival.  If a good person is forced into crime because of an inability to support loved ones, even when he possesses a willingness and capability for work, is it the law or crime which is truly unjust?  It also critiques a corrupt criminal justice system which fails to protect from true crime and fosters greater criminality in people trapped by circumstance.

A highly class segregated society creates the very people and situations it condemns. The novel also critique of the treatment of women in a society reeking of hypocrisy. Society condemns Fantine for her role as a mistress and mother of an illegitimate child. Fantine lives a hard working life attempting to support her child until she is fired for “immoral” behaviour, leaving her no recourse but prostitution.

Les Misérables is also about forgiveness and redemption. We often see things and immediately think they are unforgivable. Granted, they are irreversible, but there is always hope. If you keep looking at what you left behind/what happened, you can never really see what lies ahead. And I think Les Misérables taps into that in a time where society is in decay and standard living was low. I saw the book as one of hope, (not extreme hope, but that of inner strength) and I think it is something all Muslims can take home.

Les Misérables title relates and more to the massive flaws in society, which has continued in unabated popularity perhaps because these issues continue to plague societies today. But Nevertheless, Les was truly an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption - a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.

Note:- Looking forward watch the 2012 movie version in December.

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