One of the hardest topics found in any kind of storytelling (Opera, Musical, Book, and Ballet) belongs to death. The hardest time to experience that element is the first viewing. Depending on the character, how it is portrayed, and genre. So, how do I feel when it comes to that first moment?
Well, there is pretty much one genre where you can get excited when a character dies. That only happens in mystery- now the fun really begins because you get to start being the detective.
In pretty much all the other genres, you can get excited, angry and saddened by death. The genre where death is usually found belong to tragedies- however they still can happen in happy series and books. This does happen at times- you may not get angry at the author.
Who gets killed does affect your emotion. Usually if it is an actual villain, I get pretty excited. Also depending on the character, a death scene can be unmemorable.
There are the obvious characters you love- that is usually when I get angry at the author. There has been one exception to this. I recently finished Shades of Magic series. Holland, White London’s Antari, does act as a secondary antagonist- so in the first two books, I didn’t even like him. But when Conjuring of Light came around, I slowly started to like him. So guess what I didn’t want to happen- I wanted him to live. Well, when he died, I didn’t get angry at the author- that was because I understood the purpose and meaning behind it: it was ultimately him who destroyed Osaron.
This sounds crazy to say- there have been some stories where I originally found deaths unmemorable. Meaning, I nearly forgot they happened. Due to that, I thought ALL deaths be that way. However, Les Mis decided to prove me wrong.
Death Scene- Spoilers
Yes, how a death is seen can affect your emotion as well. Some death scenes can be pretty intense and some less intense- does that make sense. For example, Mufasa’s death in Lion King is one of the most intense ones.
What were other memorable death scenes? Les Mis- Fantine, Eponine, Enjolras, Gavroche, The Students, and Jean Valjean. Nicholas Nickleby- Smike. Etc………There is something in common between all of these: they are not alone. Most of them actually are tragic characters: usually that is expected if a character is tragic. There have been a few exceptions: Mufasa isn’t a tragic character, but does get killed.
So it is important for a death to be memorable or else you will forget they happened. In addition, that could lead to possibly not liking a book.
I am going talk more in detail here about the Les Mis deaths. Before this musical, I really believed ALL deaths were unmemorable and literally thought they couldn’t happen through song. Songs like “Come to Me”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, and “Finale”- those are ALL death songs.
Prior to “Come to Me”, Fantine has been abandoned by her lover forcing her to leave her daughter in the hands of the abusive Thenardiers, got fired from her job, and eventually turned to prostitution. She really did believe a letter she got from the Thenardiers was true, but in reality a hoax. Fantine had better hopes that her child would have a better life. She almost got sent to prison, but Valjean intervened. During “Come to Me”, Fantine was still thinking about Cosette and was still worried about her daughter’s future. Valjean, out of compassion, promised Fantine he would raise Cosette. That act of kindness made Fantine die in peace and comfort.
Even Eponine lived a tragic life. She did appear to be loved as a child, but as she got older, everything became worse. She became the neglected, unloved, and lonely teenager. No one showed her kindness- there was only one person who did. Due to the kindness Marius showed, she fell in love with him. She was also living in extreme poverty- her love for Marius was unrequited. In the end, she gave her life for Marius, the only good thing in her life. “A Little Fall of Rain” is such a touching and moving scene- Marius may have been devastated, but so glad he decided to be with her. “A Little Fall of Rain” truly does show that Marius did care about Eponine and shows how much compassion he is capable of.
Look- Gavroche, Enjolras, and the Students (excluding Marius) died for what they truly believed in. Even when Enjolras told them to leave to not waste lives, the students kept their ground and stayed. Their relationship was that strong, which was truly shown in the intimate and heartbreaking “Drink With Me”.
As with Valjean- Cosette and Marius arrived in time. Valjean was with his adopted daughter and son-in-law by his side.
I think there is some symbolism found in the Les Mis deaths. The only character who died alone is Javert- he killed himself. Out of all the characters who died, he didn’t know how to show forgiveness, love, or mercy. The vast majority of characters were not alone.
Yes, it is true we can get excited, angry, and saddened by deaths. Yes, we may not get angry at the author- that usually happens when we can learn the meaning and purpose of them to happen. Saddened is usually more likely to happen- of course all deaths are heartbreaking. But when it comes to villains, I am not exactly saddened, but pretty excited. That is only because villains are likely to be extremely disliked unless the antagonist isn’t a villain. We have to get excited at a mystery’s death- if we don’t, the fun doesn’t truly begin.
Crazy how just one musical changed how I perceive deaths. It is easier to find a memorable death. It is easier to find a touching and moving death. I usually am an emotional wreck when a Les Mis death happens. But when it comes to books- I never am in tears, but still feel heartbroken.