Superman, Batman and Ironman. These are the superheroes that people look up to from a young age. In contrast to our fatuous hopes, as we grow up, people come to realize that these superheroes in red capes are only fictitious and it seems that only villains exist in reality. However, if people would only take a look, they will see the everyone can be a hero at the end of the day.
Recently, the movie Les Miserables (2012) garnered huge success from the worldwide audience. Covering diverse themes and stories about love, revolution and people, the story of Jean Valjean especially captured many viewers. Despite how the world was doing its best to undermine him, Jean Valjean kept hope and gave back to the society that had been so brutal to him.
This very character in turn makes us think about society and the people of today. Infused with greed and selfishness, society today makes it rare for anyone to mimic the same actions that Jean Valjean had done. Indeed, as the old saying goes “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” people today are keener on the ratio of “one to one” — that is, they do not want to give more than what they have received.
In current times, everyone is so busy bustling around that they barely have the time to look around to help the deprived. And news about corruption, embezzlement, and fraud barely makes this society a humanitarian one. In some parts of the world, society even sets an uncanny resemblance to those in movies in which super- heroes appear and try to salvage.
However, Jean Valjean is definitely not a hero to make the majestic appearance. Admittedly, it may come as a surprise to some that Jean Valjean could be regarded as a hero at all. Up until now, the heroes society has lauded are those that can fly or shoot out super laser beams from their eyes. In contrast, Jean Valjean does not own any super powers nor is he rich nor is he special in any other way; he is actually at a disadvantage to be the hero people want. But the fact that Jean Valjean is “ordinary” is what makes him the hero we need in today’s society.
Jean Valjean’s disposition is one more than worthy of looking at. He is as ordinary as the next man walking past in the street, but he chooses to take actions that can be hardly seen in today’s world. At the most devastating times, Jean Valjean stood up to help others at the cost of his own status and reputation; he took in a child from a dying woman he barely knew and took care of her as if she was his very own
As self-sacrificing and compassionate as these actions are, it does not take a miracle to make these things happen. The character of Jean Valjean has all the traits that everyone has–bravery, kindness and optimism. Even though everyone else has these innate qualities, they choose to turn a blind eye to difficulties and carry on. They are too scared to lose something of their own and they wait until someone else appears to take these selfless actions. But the fact is, everyone is just as scared— it just takes a bit of courage. Jean Valjean moved the audience as he showed that courage to help others.
Jean Valjean started as the society’s underdog and this is what strikes the audience the most. Even as he gained success running his factory and became the mayor, Jean Valjean emphasized more on giving back. Jean Valjean may not be a character that a kid wants to buy the action figure of, but he is a character that every kid needs to see in the world that we are living in.