Valjean’s steps to remove himself from Cosette & Marius’ family are infuriating…

Valjean’s steps to remove himself from Cosette & Marius’ family are infuriating: he doesn’t need to do that!

But you can’t argue with depression.

It’s the beginning of a downward spiral: he’s come to believe Cosette’s better off without him.

On Twitter

His internal struggle, trying to decide whether he can accept the place offered in their household, is presented as the same type of struggle as Digne, Arras, etc: what kind of man will he be, and will he put others ahead of himself? But I can’t read it the same way.

On Twitter

While there is a practical question: the law might one day still catch up to him, even though Javert is no longer a threat, it’s flimsy. There’s no real question of whether he’s harming other people by his choice.

On Twitter

It’s no longer about sacrificing himself to help others. It’s about self-sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice, because he feels deep down that he doesn’t deserve happiness. It’s the lingering impact of his 19 years in prison, how he was treated & what he became.

On Twitter

His decision to leave is presented as his conscience winning out. But I disagree. It’s the triumph of the prison system that condemned him for stealing a loaf of bread for 7 starving kids. He’s free in body, but still there in spirit.

On Twitter

Despite everything he’s done, all the people he’s helped, the way he transformed other lives the way the bishop transformed his, Valjean still believes he’s the scum of the earth, just like Javert did.

On Twitter

So all the entreaties from Marius & Cosette & even Gillenormand that Valjean should stay can’t compete with the voice of his “conscience” – really his depression – telling him “they’re better off without you.” And he pushes them away.

On Twitter

And everyone is worse for it. Himself included. But he simply sees it as proof that he was right: he doesn’t deserve to be happy with them.

On Twitter

I want to take Valjean by the shoulders, shake him, tell him he’s being an idiot, he doesn’t deserve to cut himself off, he’s loved here…

But depression doesn’t work that way.

On Twitter