Last night I went to see a local high school production of Les Miserables. What a marvelous show! I was blown away by the talent of the cast and was especially proud of my dear friend's son, one of the leads.
When it comes to art and song I often see things in astrological terms. While watching Les Mis I couldn’t help but notice how the themes expressed in the musical correlate with the symbols of astrology.
Take Valjean and Javert, for instance. Somewhere in the middle of Act II it struck me that Valjean is like Jupiter (Mercy), while Javert is like Saturn (Justice). The comparison also works using Venus and Mars, but let’s stick with Jupiter and Saturn for now.
Valjean serves a bitter term of 19 years on a chain-gang for stealing a loaf of bread. He is a victim of the rigid laws of his society--early 19th century France--which Javert, as police inspector, enforces at every opportunity. Valjean first experiences mercy when a saintly Bishop forgives him for stealing some silver. The Bishop lies to the police and gifts Valjean with two silver candlesticks, thus enabling him to start a new life.
Valjean then becomes an agent of mercy himself. He helps a dying Fantine, saves a man’s life, and rescues Cosette, Fantine's little daughter, who has been languishing in the care of an abusive innkeeper and his wife. (That’s just for starters.) However, Valjean must always hide who he is because Javert is ever in pursuit of him.
Valjean is like a dignified Jupiter because at every turn his actions are guided by love. Jupiter in Pisces is fitting because Venus is exalted in that sign. Valjean’s great solo is a prayer in which he asks God to save Marius, Cosette’s beloved, rather than himself. If you've never heard this gorgeous song, follow the link below, and be sure to have some tissues handy!
Javert is like Saturn because all he can see is the letter of the law: if you commit a crime, you deserve punishment. There is no room for mercy in Javert’s heart. To him, Valjean is simply and forever a convict who has broken parole and must be made to pay the price. A detrimented Saturn in Leo fits, in that Javert seems to take great pride (Leo) in his role as the iron fist of the law. Saturn in Mars-ruled Scorpio would fit, too, as Javert is relentless.
As the story reaches its climax, Valjean falls into Javert’s hands one final time and agrees to surrender. But Javert allows him to escape with a wounded Marius, thereby saving both their lives. His rigidity shattered, Javert is unable to reconcile this act with the man he has been his whole life, and so he kills himself.
Free at last from pursuit, Jean Valjean is able to live out his days in relative peace. Cosette and Marius marry. Mercy has triumphed over Justice and we are left with great optimism (Jupiter), having been reminded of the invincible power of love.
Here are a few songs to enjoy. First, Javert's suicide:
Then, Josh Groban singing "Bring Him Home":
And finally, the wonderful Lea Salonga as Eponine, with "On My Own":
Above, by Adrian Pingstone - own work transferred from en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11114468
Below, 1) By "[A]fter Brion" (i.e., copied from a painting by Brion, a common practice in the 19th century for illustrations). Gustave Brion (1824-1877) - http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/thenardier/renee/javert.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3209149;
and 2) By Gustave Brion - Les Miserables, novel, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12684308
Originally published on May 16, 2010 on silvestreastrology.blogspot.com