Empty Chairs at Empty Tables Analysis

This Marius’ solo in Les Mis, and happens after the uprising.

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone

Here they talked of revolution
Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about tomorrow
And tomorrow never came

From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
And I can hear them now

The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On this lonely barricade
At dawn

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
That I live and you are gone
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on

Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more

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

Joshua Grosso (Empty Chairs at Empty Tables)

This song is quite devastating in so many ways. Marius is the only survivor of the barricades- he had to lose all of his friends during the uprising. In the song, he is dealing with survivor’s guilt. All he has left in his life is Cosette, the love of his life. He doesn’t understand why he lives and why all of his friends are gone. So much trauma he had to face. In the song, you really did to see just how unsuccessful the uprising was- considering that only Marius lived. Marius, as a matter of fact, is my favorite survivor from Les Mis.

The Beauty of Negative Emotions

There are five core emotions in musical theatre, which are excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak. As a matter of fact, the negative emotions have beauty, which is hard to think about. But why, exactly?

The Reasoning

Most of the time, sad loves to be in the form of heartbreak. Heartbreak isn’t just part of tragic musicals, but in happy musicals as well. Heartbreak ends up existing in some of the most beautiful songs—–there are various ways they exist in here—–unrequited love, death, survivor’s quilt, broken dreams, etc……But, why all the beauty?

For one thing, there are many wonderful ways to express those emotions. Through word, obviously, but you can express them more beautifully through song. Though some of those ways did surprise me, glad I learned- never did I once think heartbreak would happen at a death scene. If it didn’t, there might be a chance death scenes would still be unmemorable and not moving. The beautiful nature of heartbreak comes from how it is expressed and how you are feeling it.

Musicals with Heartbreak

  1. CATS
  2. Newsies
  3. Frozen
  4. Lion King
  5. Beauty and the Beast
  6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  7. South Pacific
  8. Fiddler on the Roof
  9. Wicked
  10. Man of La Mancha
  11. Miss Saigon
  12. West Side Story
  13. Phantom of the Opera
  14. Rent
  15. Les Mis

All the ones above have heartbreak in at least one or more of their songs. Frozen did make one mistake- “True Love”, its heartbreaking love song, used to be in the Broadway Musical, but got kicked out when the tour started, but will always see it as part of the musical.

On My Own Analysis

Like Wicked, Les Mis is home to a love triangle. In Les Mis, it is Eponine who is struggling with unrequited love. As a matter of fact, Marius is the only good thing in Eponine’s life. On My Own actually helped me understand I’m Not That Girl is a heartbreaking song- after all both are unrequited love songs even though one of them is ironic.

And now I’m all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
And now the night is near
I can make believe he’s here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and I’m happy
With the company I’m keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

Own my own
Pretending he’s beside me
All alone
I walk with him till morning
Without him
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and foreverĀ 

And I know it’s only in my mind
That I’m talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there’s a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river’s just a river
Without him
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I’m learning
All my life
I’ve only been pretending
Without me
His world would go on turning
A world that’s full of happiness
That I have never known

I love him
I love him
I love him
But only on my own

On My Own, Les Mis

There are moments where you can see insight that go beyond the unrequited love. Such as “without a home, without a friend, without a face to say hello to”, and “a world that’s full of happiness that I have never known”. It is true- Eponine doesn’t have that good of a life. She is living in extreme poverty with abusive, criminal, and terrible parents. Marius is the only good thing in her life- why do you think she hangs on and continues to love him despite the love being unrequited? She does accept that Marius loves Cosette, and does anything for him.

The song alone shows just how strong her love for Marius is. The song gets stronger as it continues.

Come to Me Analysis

This is another SPOILER duet in musicals. As a matter of fact, this is the first death scene in Les Mis. You also need to understand Fantine to understand this song. Fantine has an unconditional love for her daughter, Cosette. Prior to “Come to Me”, Fantine has had a LOT of things happening to her- gotten fired, sold her locket, hair, turned to prostitution, and almost got sent to jail. Good thing Valjean intervened and helped her.

[Fantine]
Cosette, it’s turned so cold
Cosette, it’s past your bedtime
You’ve played the day away
And soon it will be night.

Come to me, Cosette, the light is fading
Don’t you see the evening star appearing?
Come to me, and rest against my shoulder
How fast the minutes fly away and every minute colder.

Hurry near, another day is dying
Don’t you hear, the winter wind is crying?
There’s a darkness which comes without a warning
But I will sing you lullabies and wake you in the morning.

[Valjean]
Oh, Fantine, our time is running out
But Fantine, I swear this on my life

[Fantine]
Look, M’sieur, where all the children play

[Valjean]
Be at peace, be at peace evermore.

[Fantine]
My Cosette…

[Valjean]
Shall live in my protection

[Fantine]
Take her now

[Valjean]
Your child will want for nothing

[Fantine]
Good M’sieur, you come from God in Heaven.

[Valjean]
And none shall ever harm Cosette
As long as I am living.

[Fantine]
Take my hand. The night grows ever colder.

[Valjean]
Then I will keep you warm.

[Fantine]
Take my child. I give her to your keeping.

[Valjean]
Take shelter from the storm

[Fantine]
For God’s sake, please stay till I am sleeping
And tell Cosette I love her
And I’ll see her when I wake…

Come to Me, Les Mis

All because of the mercy bishop gave Valjean, her learned how to show compassion to others. After hearing about what happened to Fantine, one of his former coworkers, he decided to show compassion to her. For starters, he decided to be her while he died. Second, he decided to raise Cosette as well= due to that, it gave Fantine peace and comfort for once. Valjean had to unexpectedly become a father- little did he know the impact Cosette would have on his life.

I’m Not That Girl Analysis

This song is one of Elphaba’s solos in Wicked and might mean SPOILERS if you proceed in this post. It is actually the first song in the love triangle. Yes, it may be heartbreaking, but it isn’t the most emotional song in Wicked. This sounds odd to say, but it is also an ironic song.

Hands touch, eyes meet
Sudden silence, sudden heat
Hearts leap in a giddy whirl
He could be that boy
But I’m not that girl

Don’t dream too far
Don’t lose sight of who you are
Don’t remember that rush of joy
He could be that boy
I’m not that girl

Every so often we long to steal
To the land of what-might-have-been
But that doesn’t soften the ache we feel
When reality sets back in

Blithe smile, lithe limb
She who’s winsome, she wins him
Gold hair with a gentle curl
That’s the girl he chose
And Heaven knows
I’m not that girl

Don’t wish, don’t start
Wishing only wounds the heart
I wasn’t born for the rose and the pearl

There’s a girl I know
He loves her so
I’m not that girl

Stephen Schwartz, Wicked

Moments before Elphaba sings this unrequited love song, she just realizes her feelings for Fiyero. She actually confesses in the song that she doesn’t think she is good enough for him because is green through the lyrics, “I wasn’t born for the rose and pearl”. Actually, she decides to NOT steal him away from her best friend, Glinda. That is literally how strong their friendship is- meaning they will not let a boy get in the way. That really is how loyal the two best friends are.

But why do I say this song is IRONIC? Little does Elphaba know that Fiyero has feelings for her. The two actually have no idea that they will eventually end up with each other. That is why the song is ironic- as in she will not always have the unrequited love. There was some foreshadowing in act I that this will eventually happen, but will not be noticed if you weren’t paying close attention. Fiyero and Elphaba already have a stronger chemistry than Fiyero and Glinda. Even the Lion Cub scene has clues- look at how they are interacting- almost playfully flirting- plus Fiyero can’t stop thinking about that incident.