Les Mis – Act VI
Act VI – Death of the Flesh through Internal Consistency
The nice thing about Gavroach/Enjolras is that they are internally consistent. Enjolra berates Marcus for getting distracted by love, when war is clearly the one and only solution to the problems of France. From the revolutionaries point of view, graceless law (the current gov system there) must be opposed gracelessly and must be opposed violently. They start this plan at the death of Lamarque, continue in arming themselves, setting up barricades, and capturing a spy – Javert. Then, a choice point arrives once they learn that theirs is the only barricade left – they can give up their ideals, or they can die for them. They choose to be consistent – to continue to champion the cause of vengeance – and so they find peace in death (and are resurrected later).
Joining with the revolutionaries, Eponine puts her life carelessly on the line and eventually dies from a gunshot wound. As I said previously, in her the spirit of starvation lives on.
Don’t you fret, M’sieur Marius
I don’t feel any pain
A little fall of rain
Can hardly hurt me now
You’re here, that’s all I need to know
And you will keep me safe
And you will keep me close
And rain will make the flowers grow.
Just hold me now, and let it be.
Shelter me, comfort me.
From her position of hopelessness, sleep until the final resurrection is not necessarily a bad thing. She’s already dead on the inside, and therefore all physical death(sleep, until resurrection) does is to wash away what’s past. (Again, internal consistency). A little death can hardly hurt now.
She takes comfort in love, care, and closeness as she finds peace. Indeed, though, the death of starvation is good for the main character (which includes Vanjean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, and other characters that sleep until togetherness[marriage] wakes all in the resurrection), I’ll explain why in a moment. First, I will point out that the death of the spirit of starvation(female without male, desire without enactment) is caused by the main character finding love(salvation). One cannot indefinitely hold on to both the fulfillment of all desires and the sad hunger for what one can’t have – one will have to eventually fade away, and ultimately the sad hunger is happier to fade away. In this story, until Eponine dies, she holds on the letter from Cosette (thus keeping her and Marius apart). As she finds peace, this letter is passed along so that love may flourish.
This is the true ending to Fantine’s song, “Life(sin) has killed the dream I dreamed.” The death of Eponine was caused
Now, switching mental scenes here, Javert the spy is handed over to Valjean to be killed. Although Javert has spend years hunting Valjean mercilessly, Valjean decides to show mercy and to let Javert go. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Being shown mercy makes Javert more merciful, and so at their next meeting, he allows Valjean to escape long enough to bring a wounded Marius to the hospital. But at this point, Javert kills himself because he does not want to live in a world with mercy – to him, this translates to the stars going cold and dark. Condemnation and the law are finished chasing Valjean, and yet Valjean is not transparent and hides his true story from Cosette still.
In the last act, dreams were born – dreams of separation and dreams of love. Those who dreamed of separation died of consistency, and they found death (separation of body and spirit). But with the sad dreams at rest, finally the dreams of love CAN start to come together.
Act VI is the stage when the old man dies off. Our sinful dreams are put to rest. How? Internal consistency – we put words to the lies that part of ourselves believes about the world, and then we see where the logical fallacy is. Our flesh says “make them pay” to make right the wrongs of the past, but the truth is that self-sacrificing love is the only thing that heals. Others sin against us, and we finally see that war/revenge/separation does not truly avenge the sins of the past but only serve to take away awesomeness from the world. We get to see where dreams of separation end.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more
Therefore, like Eponine, we finally let go of false hope in a flawed dream. We realize that we have been believing and hoping this whole time in vain, and finally our sinful dreams die off naturally. Because of sin, there are two unhealthy sides of us – the side that dreams the wrong thing (“Make ’em pay through the nose!”) and the side who is saddens when the right thing happens (“Every word that he says is a dagger in me!”).
In this section of the story, transparency is key. Without consistency between heart and action, the characters who already had death in their heart would not have ended up pursing their dreams and seeing where those dreams ended. The revolutionaries dream was primarily a curse because it was a desire for a lack of forgiveness, death (of the others), and separation (barricades), yet they got to experience the end result of their dream (separation of the body and spirit) and therefore that unhealthy lie was able to die. Follow any half-truth far enough and it will self-destruct.
The main question of this stage is this: Do we shy away from the logical consequences of our desires? The cry of the heart is “What is our sacrifice for?” The revolutionaries sacrificed for revenge (“make them pay for every man”), Marcus saw the pointlessness of their sacrifice, Eponine (the spirit of starvation) was sacrificed for the letter and true love to go forward, Javert sacrificed for judgment without mercy, and Valjean utilized what he’d gained (grace from the Bishop’s sacrifice) to conquer judgment with mercy.
The decision of Act VI is this: follow your dreams to their implications, and if those implications are death, then the old man realizes that what he truly is seeking is death, therefore he embraces that death (“take up your cross”) and the old fleshly miserable self “dies” and finds peace.
CLICK HERE to proceed to Act VII (the final act)