The Tragedy of Marius and Cosette—Yes, I Said Tragedy

So most people hate Marius and Cosette. Let me just come clean and say I really didn’t enjoy Marius or Cosette when I first saw Les Miserables, but recently I have been reassessing my opinion of the two lovebirds.

Yes, it’s true that when Cosette grows up and when Marius talks they are insufferably annoying. But recently I wondered why I hated them so much. And it really came down to one simple thing: because they’re in love.

Seriously, everyone else is worried about justice, good versus evil, and deep theological questions, but Marius and Cosette are worried they won’t be able to get married! Really?! There’s a revolution happening, people. Do we really have time to worry about petty romances?

But the problem isn’t Marius and Cosette, really. It’s how romance is played out in musicals and operas. The love at first sight trope is a classic that has been around forever and has become popular in almost every genre, but it thrives in theatre. In a musical as tragically beautiful as Les Miserables no wonder the viewer is annoyed by the very typical and clichéd romance that’s thrown in.

But Marius and Cosette’s romance actually fulfills a very important purpose, and that’s hope.

Think about it. If the play ended with everyone dying, and Marius died at the barricade leaving Cosette alone, the cast could sing that finale song as passionately as they wanted, but many people would still leave the theatre completely disappointed, because the message of the musical would suddenly change from one of hope to hopelessness. That’s the tragedy of Marius and Cosette; they are actually two of the most important characters in the show, but they are completely dismissed because of their romantic plotline. Marius and Cosette both overcame terrible things (child abuse, PTSD) to survive and create a better life for themselves. That’s the message of hope in Les Miserables; that things will get better.

Cosette and Marius are actually crucial characters to this story, and yes, they may seem less interesting than many of the others, but next time you go to the theatre, just remember that if they weren’t there you’d have a much different experience.

One thought on “The Tragedy of Marius and Cosette—Yes, I Said Tragedy

  1. Getting into Les Mis for the first time I never saw them as annoying, though I did have ‘wtf?’ printed all over my forehead because of the ‘For shame, I do not even know your name!’ love-at-first-sight thing. I agree with this post, especially when you said ‘That’s the message of hope in Les Miserables, that things will get better.’ 🙂 As for the couple itself? I like it, but I don’t passionately ship it. Partially because of Eponine :((

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