At the beginning of the show Jean Valjean has been paroled from prison after serving a 19 year sentence. Unfortunately his background as a convict prevents people from wanting to hire him as he searches for work. Freedom is not what it seems and Valjean becomes more bitter, angry and desperate and he comes to "hate the world, this world that always hated me."
Life didn't turn out the way he expected and he made a bad decision; one night a bishop invited Valjean inside his home. The bishop fed him and provided him with a warm bed to sleep in. During the night Valjean stole some items made of silver and fled.
He was caught by police and Valjean told them that the silver was a gift from the bishop. The police didn't believe it and he was brought back to the bishop's home. The bishop not only said that Valjean was right, even though he wasn't, he then gave Valjean more silver with the condition that he become an "honest man."
Life again didn't turn out the way he expected and now the shame flared up inside him. What would he do? Well, to make a very long story short, Valjean became an "honest man." There are of course many twists to his story, but you'll have to watch the show for that.
Valjean's main protagonist is a police office named Javert. Javert has hunted Valjean ever since he broke parole and his mission has been to bring him to justice. In Javert's mind Valjean is a fallen creature, like Lucifer, and the difference between he and Valjean was the same as the difference between good and evil.
Later in the show, when Javert's life is threatened, Valjean intervenes and saves Javert's life. Valjean tells Javert that he has always been wrong about him and enables Javert to escape. In the aftermath Javert faced the same situation as Valjean, as the very truths that had based his life on seemed to crumble in front of him.
In contrast to Valjean, when confronted with a choice, Javert chose a different path. "Damned if I'll live in the debt of a thief!" he cried out and wondered, "And must I now begin to doubt, who never doubted all those years?" In the end Javert couldn't accept his life's unexpected turn, became even more angry and defiant, and jumped off a bridge into a swollen river.
When life radically throws us from the course we expected; when we are hurt; when fairness and justice seems to have been thrown out the window; when we are rejected; when our dreams seem so far away...what path do we choose?
The path of Valjean or Javert?