Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I learned from Les Miserables.

Jessica hosted a very creative Book Chat today over at her blog, Sweet Green Tangerine. She challenged us to create a musical playlist based on a book, which I think is an awesome idea. I was having trouble thinking of an appropriate to book to use when I finally realized my favorite story is already a musical! So I'm going to put a little spin on this prompt (hope you don't mind, Jessica!) and share with you some life lessons presented in the music of Les Miserables. Enjoy!

Image via Bunthorne's

My mom and I always joked that the message of Les Mis was: "Life's a b*tch, and then you die." (Don't believe me? See above photo.) Even today, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that. Just look at these lovely lyrics:
  • “Look down, look down, you’re standing in your grave.”
  • “Here we sang about tomorrow, and tomorrow never came.”
  • “Without me, the world would go on turning.” (Some people like to say, “To the world, you may be only one person, but to one person, you may be the world.” Well, as Eponine clearly tells us, you’re not that important, no matter what one person may think about you. Stop lying to yourself.)
  • “One more day, standing about, what is it for? One day less to be living.”
  • “Our little lives don’t count at all.”
  • “My life was a war that could never be won.”
I mean, really, how many times do we need to be reminded of our imminent deaths and the inconsequentiality of our lives? But there are some practical words of advice sprinkled throughout the musical as well:
  • “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned.” = Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. SPOILER ALERT: And if you do the right thing, it will all turn out okay. You’ll guilt your enemy into committing suicide because he can’t handle your absurdly high level of morality, and you’ll be free!
  • “How can I ever face my fellow man? How can I ever face myself again?” = If you don't want something written on the blackboard at school, don't do it.
  • "For the army we fight is a dangerous foe." = Don't underestimate your enemy.
  • “Spread around your poison ’til they end up in a box.” = Don’t sleep with prostitutes. With today's medical advances, I think that advice could be amended to: If you’re going to sleep with hookers, at least use protection.
  • “Rain will make the flowers grow.” = Good things can come from the bad. And this even comes from a dying girl. I guess facing the Grim Reaper really gives you a new perspective.
  • “Ready with a handshake and an open palm.” = People usually want something from you. It’s best if you figure out what that is earlier rather than later.
  • “At the end of the day she’s the one who began it.” = That’s right, no matter what you learned in elementary school about retaliation and maturity, it only matters who started it. So if someone else is going to start it, you might as well finish it.
  • “Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me what your sacrifice was for.” = War sucks.
  •  “And so it is written on the doorway to paradise that those who falter and those who fall must pay the price.” = Your actions have consequences.
  • “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.” = Even the best-laid plans can go astray.
And who knew Les Mis was such a wealth of relationship advice? You know, especially because only one couple ends up happy at the end.
  • “Little you know, little you care.” = Boys aren’t very smart when it comes to girls. We have to be pretty direct, sometimes.
  • “I did not live until today. How can I live when we are parted?” = Long-distance relationships suck. (But Marius is being a little melodramatic here. He has a tendency to do that.)
  • “There are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.”
  • “I’m doing everything all wrong. Oh God, for shame, I do not even know your name.” = Dang right, you should feel ashamed. Get the girl’s name first. Preferably first and last. (Same for boys.) 
I could also make a smart-alec comment about just living in your mind and imagining a relationship if you’re not happy with your single status, but I just can’t make fun of that song. I mean, it’s totally my favorite.

So, fellow Les Mis aficionados, what little gems of wisdom did I miss?


Jessica Bucher said...

This is a great post!! Sorry I didn't get around to reading it until today! Les Mis is a great musical. I remember listening to it a LOT in high school (drama club geek, big time). "On my Own"=obsession. Rent was always my favorite the point where I dissected every line and would listen to it a gazillion (not an exaggeration) times.
I love how you drew something from each line. Once again reminds me that your blog is an intelligent one.
I'm so glad you joined in this week and I love that you stretch the topic. I don't want anyone to think they have to answer my question verbatim. :) My novel comment is over now. lol

Abby said...

My favorite: "You’ll guilt your enemy into committing suicide because he can’t handle your absurdly high level of morality, and you’ll be free!"