Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby Heidi80 » Thu May 30, 2013 11:30 am

Gervais wrote:I've always thought it was Fantine that was the "child without a friend." She's still a somewhat young woman, after all, and is about as helpless as a child at this point.

Yeah, that's how I've always interpreted it too. Because Valjean has just heard Fantine's story and feels sorry for her and wants to help her.

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby Flynn » Thu May 30, 2013 5:40 pm

No, it's definitely meant to refer to Cosette- Valjean almost always directs the comment at Fantine, after all. Fantine would be the 'deeper' meaning.

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby Gervais » Thu May 30, 2013 6:22 pm

Thinking about it some more, I don't think it's definitely one or the other. Does the musical's libretto say anything about who it's addressed to? The only copy of the script I have access to is the shooting script, and all it says is "...Valjean reaches out a hand to Fantine. To her, it's as if he's come to her in a dream--" right before "This child without a friend."
(Hold on a minute, I'll see if I can make this more coherent)
Javert looks on, containing his anger, as Valjean reaches out to Fantine. To Fantine, it's as if he's come to her in a dream--

Fantine: Can this be?

Valjean: Where will she end, this child without a friend?

I always assumed the "to her" didn't mean it was addressed to her, but that this is how it seems to her.

The part right after, "I've seen your face before," sounds like a new verse to me, so I thought "Child without a friend" was the last line of the verse addressed to Javert, and "I've seen your face before" started the verse to Fantine.
On the other hand, though, it could be something of an answer to Fantine's question. Well, not really an answer, but still a reply. It easily goes either way, though.

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby Flynn » Fri May 31, 2013 8:48 am

Musically it's a bit of a change with that line, and most actors playing the part deliver it in a markedly softer and less severe tone than when they're confronting Javert. Plus Fantine breaks up the exchange right before, leading me to assume the next line would be addressed to her.

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby hiddenvision » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:24 pm

So Tholomyès was a pheodophile.?

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:27 pm

Hm, I always thought that line was referring to Fantine, as well. And I don't think it would necessarily have pedophilic implications for Tholomyès -- just that because Valjean is significantly older than Fantine (though the casting doesn't always show that), he would think of her as basically a child, the same way that he refers to Marius and Cosette as children in the Epilogue even though they're of adult age by the time they're married. And Fantine also says in "I Dreamed A Dream" that Tholomyès "took [her] childhood in his stride," indicating that she saw her earlier self as being childish or childlike.

In any case, I always interpreted those lines from Valjean as being a bit of internal monologue/soliloquy for him, rather than being directed at either Fantine or Javert. (I also thought Valjean's later lines in that scene, which were more definitely monologue/soliloquy -- "Is it true what I've done? / To an innocent child? / Had I only known then..." -- were referring to Fantine rather than Cosette, as well; but both instances can work either way.) Either way, interesting discussion; and it's neat to see other perspectives on an exchange I hadn't thought too deeply about before!

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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby 23623 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:14 pm

*sneaking in*
Speaking of "Castle on a Cloud", here's something I've always pondered...
Who is that "lady all in white"?
1. Fantine?
2. Some imaginary mother figure?
I actually accept both answers and can't decide which one I like better. Sorry for rambling but this is one of my favorite lines in the musical. Poor Cosette and Fantine!

It must be a bittersweet connection/parallel if she's really thinking about Fantine. There's basically no Cosette and Fantine interaction in the musical but I like the fact that they're somehow still connected at the beginning and the end of the musical. After Fantine gives her to Thenardier, mother and daughter suffers their own misery seemingly all alone, but the fact that Fantine suffers for Cosette and Cosette dreams of Fantine when she's sad always reminds me that though they're physically separated, they will belong to each other forever. And in their imagination, the other is always so perfect. I'm really happy that neither of them actually find out the truth of the other (maybe Cosette does, many years later, but I think she is able to handle everything by then). In the book, Fantine always believes that her Cosette is living happily and she is under this impression until her death. This is really so much better than actually seeing Cosette, abused, starved and cold, and knowing that she suffers all for nothing, before she dies! And for musical Cosette, Fantine will always be the nice, fairy-like white lady. I can't imagine how she feels if she discovers that her mother can do nothing to protect her and is actually on the edge of death. :(

Actually I think having Cosette dreaming of some imaginary mother figure is closer to the book, which elaborates more about how Fantine is thinking of Cosette than the other way around. First of all if this is ture, I don't blame Cosette at all. She's just 3 years old (not sure if in the musical she's aged up though) when Fantine leaves her. I can't expect a 3-year-old orphan to understand or remember everything. And my heart still aches for Cosette. She and Fantine have almost nothing; they only have each other in this world. To be fair though, she needs Fantine even more because she's just a vulnerable child who needs her mother's protection (off topic, but I slightly disapproves of Fantine leaving Cosette at the Thenardiers even though I know maybe she doesn't have any other choice. Again, I don't blame her, she's a victim after all). And now even this last posession is robbed of her. The Thenardiers are anything but parents to her. She surely has seen how they treat Éponine and Azelma, and all she wants is the love that resembles what's going on between the Thenardiers and their children. It doesn't need to be from a specific person because the desperate kid really doesn't know who she can turn to. Maybe (just maybe, I never want it to be true) she forgets Fantine, or feels disappointed...but anyway, there's no one in the real world she can think of that will possibly hold her and sing her a lullaby. And poor, naive Fantine is still thinking that Cosette will be alright. No seriously, nothing's alright. :cry:

OK I end up crying after typing this now I need to listen to something else to stop the tears...
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Re: Lyrics which you think have a deeper meaning

Postby deHavilland » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:59 pm

In the French Concept Album, Cosette sings "Mon Prince est en Chemin," which is roughly "My Prince is On His Way" and the verses between the ones about mopping, scrubbing and living a generally laborious life are about the eponymous prince who "appears with one sweep of her magic broom" and is on his way to save her from her drudgery. At some point, however, someone presumably said "this is maybe be a little inappropriate for a little girl to sing" and while all of the lyrics were eventually changed: the theme of the song remained the same, minus the prince. And the "lady all in white" seems to have replaced him, so I think it's very safe to say that she represents Fantine either metaphorically by being a motherly figure or literally in that maybe that is all Cosette can remember of her.
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