Victor Hugos Les Miserables movie is a classic film with varied theological themes. With its main characters, Jean Valjean, Javert and Bishop of Diagne, played by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, the film brings out the aspect of theology in its scenes. The theological themes to be discussed in this essay include moral theology, political theology, liberation theory, the theory of migration, feminist theory among others. Each of these theological themes is illustrated by specific scenes that outline how the aforementioned plays out.Theological contrasts means how different sinners react to receiving the gospel. Jean Valjean receives the grace and this makes him turn a new leaf. On the other hand, Javert receives the grace and this breaks him and he finally commits suicide. The theological themes presented in this film helps in interpreting how the society in real sense responds to the gospel.
Hugo adopts the moral theology theme. Moral theology entails how one should conduct his or her activities with regards to ethics in order to seek the favor of God. The moral theology in question includes the social justices, sexuality. Javert, the prisoner adopts the deontological form of this theory. Deontological theories for this matter mean doing the right thing according to the rules and the law even if that right thing is going to hurt a lot of people. This theory tends to outweigh the consequences involved. In the first scene Javert terms Jean Valjean as a robber who has fairly been punished for his crimes against the law. He makes it clear to Javert that his action for stealing the loaf of bread was to save his niece from hunger. Jean Valjean uses a practical dimension to his reasoning. By breaking the law, he had done a great deal of saving his nieces life. He fails in his appeal for compassion from Javert who believes the law must be adhered to regardless of whether a life is at stake or not. Similarly, Javert believes every law breaker must face the full wrath of the law.He further demonstrates his deolontological reasoning when he grants Fantine little time before her death to wish her daughter Cossette goodbye.Jean Valjean can be describes as embracing the virtual ethics approach as opposed to Javerts deontological approach.Virtual ethics approach doing the right thing even if it means going contrary to the law as opposed to deontological approach where one follows the law to the latter even if it hurts other people. Hugo through his movie portrays the law in the society as unjust rather being just with regards to humanity. He portrays the law as the oppressor of vulnerable and poor people in the society rather than their protector.
Then again Victor Hugo adopts the liberation theology theme to address the plight of the poor and the vulnerable. It is centered on the mentality that the law convicts but the grace of God liberates.It brings out the aspect of Gods love to his children. After a series of rejections, Jean Valjean is taken him by the Bishop of Diagne. In his stay there, he steals two candle sticks and he is later recaptured. Fortunately, the Bishop dismisses the two candle sticks as gifts given to Jean Valjean. This awakens the good personality in him.The candles stolen represent the love and grace of God to his children. That is the reason why the Bishop of Diagne refers to them as gifts rather than stolen items in Jean Valjeans possession. He goes ahead and gives Jean Valjean silver to go and start his life afresh and mend his ways for the better.This scene main aim is to explain to the society that God is the gracious love we need to receive.Furthermore, it explains Godslove to his children and his willingness to forgive those who accept him and start a new promising life altogether no matter the level of sins.
Hugo brings out the church as responsive to poverty issues with economic solutions as provisions of jobs for the poor. After mending his ways for the better, Jean Valjean becomes a bearer of Gods grace to the world. In his position as the mayor, he reaches out to the destitute and the poor. He meets Fantine who is a prostitute woman forced by circumstances into that heinous business activity. When she ultimately dies, Jean Valjean takes up her daughter Cossete as an act of love to the poor and vulnerable. Similarly with regards to compassion, Jean Valjean shows sympathy and forgives Javert who is on a death row. Jean Valjeans actions in this scenario represent the love of God for his children.
Hugo brings about the aspect of political theology in this film. Enjolras and Javert can be used as the perfect illustration on how one aligns political power with God. Javert believes that God is totally aligned with the states law. He believes that in discharging his duties, even if others get hurt that is, he is doing it to please God. Thereby if the states system fails economically or politically then it is has also failed the almighty too. The aforementioned enables Javert view Jean Valjean as not just a simple criminal but also a sinner in the eyes of the lord. Henceforth, he seeks Gods intervention to assist him find Jean Valjean so as to restore harmony and order to the moral world. Similarly, Enjolras is characterized as individual with revolutionary and idealistic political theology. He is part of a student uprising highlighting the problems of the poor.
The theology of migration is also evident in the film. With reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jean Valjean plays the role of a good neighbor and helps out a neighbor who is need of his help. Fantine, a prostitute requests the subject in question to take care of her daughter Cossete before she dies. Jean Valjean grants her wishes and takes in Cossete .Similarly, after Jean Valjean is released from prison, he is taken in by the Bishop of Diagne who gives him food, shelter and finally valuable silver to start a new life with.
The theme of feminist theology is also adopted by the Hugo in his movie. In the film, Anne Hathaway as Fantine is a prostitute out to make money to fend for herself and her child.Women in this instance are viewed as sex slaves looking up to men to fend for themselves. Before she dies she is able to meet with Jean Valjean. She requests the latter to take care of her daughter Cossete before she dies. Jean Valjean agrees to her plea.
The film in itself defines the co-relationship between mercy andjudgment. Of the two, one outweighs the other as depicted by both scenes where Jean Valjean forgives Jarvert and where Javert constantly harasses Valjean and labels him as a thief. The movie portrays the poor as the vulnerable who are judged harshly. Jean Valjean is sentenced to nineteen years behind bars for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his hungry niece. The aspect of mercy comes as a strong counterweight, changing its victims to a refurbished way of life at times. Since Jean Valjean is bitter with the world and steals from the Bishop of Diagne, he is surprised when the latter forgives him. It paints a bigger picture that embracing Gods mercy is always the best for a successful life ahead regardless of your sins.
Two characters in the movie realize the true meaning of Gods mercy. Jean Valjean, an ex- convict, receives mercy after his re- capture for theft of two candles he stole from the Bishop of Diagne. Henceforth, he changes his old bad self to a new rejuvenated soul willing to receive Christ as his personal savior. Subsequently, he rises from being a poor former convict to the mayor of a town. On the other hand, Javert, the prison warden, gets a chance to embrace Gods mercy after he is forgiven by Jean Valjean. He is shocked by Valjean actions of not taking his life away while he had the chance. This confuses him a lot because he cannot live in the contradiction between the mercy Jean Valjean showed to him and the judgment he passed on the former for stealing a loaf of bread. Unable to live with his own self, Javert ultimately takes his life by jumping off a bridge.
Hugo incorporates the theory of spiritual progress in this movie. From a tainted background all through prison, Jean Valjean is able to embrace Gods love and mercy after his theft ordeal with at the Bishops place. Consequentially, he is transformed to a generous mayor of a town looking after the poor and the vulnerable. Through this scene, Hugo tries to explain it to the society that receiving Gods mercy is the best approach to progress.
With regards to the theological themes in question, Les Miserables clearly highlights that the grace always triumphs the law in the long run.Additionally, it brings outthe relationship between the society, the church and God. Moral theology explains the social justice in the society. This is with reference to a certain group of individuals who believe that the law is at all times inclined to serving Christ regardless of the consequences.In specific scenes of Les Miserables, political theology explain that political power is aligned to God hence the break of this power means a fallout with God. Liberation theology focuses more on the deliverance of sinners by God. It also focuses on the plight of the poor and the oppressed. Theology of migration focuses more on the incidents of being a good neighbor with references to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Finally, the feminist theology focuses more on women and their place in the society.
Les Miserables gives us a lot of hope as it clearly outlines that that the grace of God triumphs any form law of the land. Similarly it is a wonderful reminder of the transforming love and grace.
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