Les Miserables is a French Novel that turned into one of the longest running musicals of all time. If you have ever seen it or heard the music, I am sure you have been moved to tears. There is so much depth to the story, including history of that time period that it can make a great learning experience.
Les Miserables is a famous musical that is one of the longest running musicals in the world. Before it was a musical it was a classic novel.
Les Miserables is a French historical novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862 and was an instant success. It’s French title is translated to The Miserable Ones. It is considered one of the greatest books from the 19th century and has been translated into several languages. It is set in the Parisian underworld and is a tale of injustice, love and redemption. This is a very meaty book at around 1,400 pages.
You can read the book for FREE on Kindle HERE.
The original musical does have some content that is not suitable for younger children. They depict life how it was for the women in underground Paris, lives of prostitution, destitution and rape. I prefer to teach it in upper middle school or high school due to the sensitive topics. It does bring up some good discussions about how life was in that time.
If you enjoy history, and period pieces, you will enjoy this Broadway musical. It is a great one to do a unit study on in high school. You can incorporate literature, it was a book first, and even history the time period of the June Rebellion. Then you can watch the musical and also, the movie! The soundtrack is phenomenal and will stick with you for a very long time. The lyrics really speak to your heart, and you will find yourself humming and singing the songs soon after hearing them.
History of Les Miserables the musical:
What I find so fascinating about this musical is that it started off as an experiment of sorts. Who would have thought to turn a famous Victorian novel into a musical? It first began completely in French, then it was translated into English, and since then it has been translated into 21 different languages!
I recommend that you read the novel and compare it with the musical, and also with the movie.
Free Printables, Unit Studies and Online Resources:
Study Guides and Resources for the Book:
Study Guides, Unit Studies and Websites for the Musical:
Broadway Educators has some amazing resources and ideas for teaching theater in the classroom. Theatre History, Literature and Les Miserables Part 1 covers the Romantic Movement and Victor Hugo. Theatre History, Literature and Les Miserables Part Two covers teaching it with a modern scene and modern technology.
The Les Miserables London production website has a page for educators with downloads on background and historical information, a printable study guide.
Offical Les Miserables Website with touring dates, photographs and more information on this iconic show.
Les Miserables and the French Revolution:
This story took place around the time period of the French Revolution, but not during the revolution. The events are similar to what happened during the Revolution, but it isn’t exactly correct as it takes place after the actual Revolution, during the second revolution or June Day. Here are some resources that can help you understand the time frame it takes place.