deHavilland wrote:The new staging for the Toronto production that has also carried over to the latest Broadway revival does actually have her physically pushing him out of harm's way, taking the bullet herself, which is closer to the book and more in keeping with the point.
Wow that's great!! I wish I could see it live!! Will future productions keep the new staging? I hope they will. At least until the day I finally get a chance to see Les Mis on stage.
deHavilland wrote:Fantine is there to honor and commend Valjean for having taken on and succeeded in her dying wish of him taking care of Cosette. He took the lessons he learned from the Bishop, and the task set to him by Fantine and created a long and fulfilling life for the both of them. But it's time now for his life to come to an end and for those successes to be rewarded in paradise. The care and loving of Cosette now passes on to Marius.
But Marius wouldn't be there if Éponine hadn't sacrificed herself for him. (The new staging for the Toronto production that has also carried over to the latest Broadway revival does actually have her physically pushing him out of harm's way, taking the bullet herself, which is closer to the book and more in keeping with the point.) And, almost more importantly: even though Éponine sacrificed herself for him, Marius wouldn't have lived very long if Valjean hadn't carried him home from the barricade.
In a sense: two acts are being honored here. Fantine is thanking him for raising Cosette, Éponine for saving Marius. These are both very important acts that are crucial to Valjean's development. Raising Cosette is the obvious one, but reading Marius' letter and setting out to make sure that against whatever odds: that boy comes home to the daughter he has always been so very reluctant about letting go of is just as important. He raised Cosette, but then he set things up so that when it was his time to go -- as it is in the finale -- she still has someone to love and protect her. Which means that he truly can die in peace.
This is a beautiful interpretation! Totally agree with you on Fantine, that's how I see the connection among these characters. It makes the finale very heartwarming and hopeful, in contrast with previous death scenes. Don't know if it's just me but I really feel happy (which is quite uncharacteristic in a show like LM!) for Valjean, Cosette and Marius in the finale. And indeed, if Éponine's death is staged that way the finale will make much more sense, though at the same time her character will be changed completely. Die-hard book fans may feel uncomfortable about Eppie being like "I can't be with Marius but I want him to be happy with Cosette" but I'm fine with this. Blame it on the movie which dragged me into this fandom.
Though I'm still looking forward to the bishop's reappearance (please!), now I can partly accept Eppie's.