Cosette’s farewell to Jean Valjean. To fulfill tonight’s “right in the feels” needs.
Valjean is the individual character with the most changes throughout the show, because the story basically revolves around his tale of redemption and his different stages from a convict to an upright man. Personally I love a lot of his pieces because there’s a lot of purpose to his clothing. For example, on parole he moves around a lot and gets thrown around a bit and his coat moves with him, swaying about angrily. He hunches in that coat which seems a little too big for him, he wants it to hide his convict past but yet he fails because he still faces the same rejection everywhere, and the coat makes him seem even more imposing and threatening. It doesn’t help that his filthy and unkempt appearance scares everyone away as well, so it is particularly moving when the bishop accepts him for who he is. And in contrast, he wears a similar coat to pick up little Cosette, but this time he is clean and purposeful and when he hunches it is to protect her. The coat sways beautifully when he waltzes around with little Cosette and it is just such a lovely, lovely scene. This extends to when he reappears a few minutes later with an older Cosette, his coat makes him look a lot bigger and protective of the girl who a few moments ago was in rags and now all grown-up and beautiful under his care.
He also wears a couple of different waistcoats, as he ages it goes from a patterned one as Monsieur le Maire (he cleans up well and is almost unrecognisable from the previous scene), to a green one in Rue Plumet and to an understated, black one towards the end of the show as he prepares to go away. There’s also the instantly identifiable army uniform because it’s the coat he wears during Bring Him Home. It stands out among the barricades and looks slightly out of place, but it keeps reminding the audience that the only there for Cosette and he would risk going dressed as a member of the army, he would risk anything for the people he loves.
As he is dying he is very weak and he covers himself with a brown blanket. He sheds this as he dies (“To love another person is to see the face of God”), he links hands with Fantine and Eponine and washed over with a bright spotlight. In the brick there’s a lot of imagery to do with light/darkness, and Valjean is absolutely luminous in white by the last scene because he lived a life with love and is redeemed by it. It’s all very, very powerful.
Points of interest:
He wears very subdued colours, mostly black/white/brown. Other than as a convict, he almost always wears white underneath his coat/waistcoat and black pants.
He has a “24601” mark on his chest (though recently it’s just a red mark), which appears during the prologue, Who Am I and Look Down.
One of the only ones with many wig changes. He first appears with wild hair as a convict, a neater hairstyle as Monsieur le Maire, ages up in stages from Paris onwards until the Epilogue. Always has a beard, though!
*Apologize for the quality of scans, if you want clearer pictures of anything do ask. Fact checking and opinions welcome!
hey elissa so i heard you like valjean
jean jean the sexy con