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In Les Misérables (2012), I can't understand why Jean Valjean died at the end. There was no reason given in the movie. Jean Valjean was sitting on a chair inside the convent and was praying and said,

God on high, hear my prayer. Take me now to thy care. Where you are, let me be. Take me now, take me there. Bring me home.

What was the cause of Jean Valjean's death?

Was it sickness? Was it old age? From his prayer, it sounds like Jean Valjean was tired of his life and asking God to take his life, thus saying "bring me home". But I'm not sure.

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Are you asking what caused him to die? Or why was the movie version script written that way? –  Paulster2 Jan 8 '14 at 18:32
@Paulster2 Yeah. I mean the cause. Updated. –  Mawia Jan 8 '14 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

Wikipedia lists this reason from the musical (which the 2012 film is based on) as:

At a convent, Valjean awaits his death, having nothing left to live for.

That may be, but he was also pretty old for the time period, and serving 19 years of hard labor probably didn't help.

  • 1768 - Birth of Jean Valjean (book)
  • 1796 - Jean Valjean is sentenced to prison (28)
  • 1815 - He is released (47)
  • 1823 - He is Mayor and becomes guardian to Cosette (55)
  • 1832 - There is upheaval in Paris and the events of the student revolution take place. (64)
  • 1832 or 1833 - Jean Valjean dies. (64 or 65)

At age 65 he is well past the average life expectancy of something living in France in the 19th century. Admittedly, when you are constantly in war, the life expectancy is pretty low. French people didn't see a life expectancy above 60 until after World War 2.

So it is probably a combination of old age, and having no more reason to live (believing that he will never see Cosette again).

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Any possibility that he was asking God to take his life? –  Mawia Jan 9 '14 at 5:14

Based on the play, I always assumed he had gotten sick (pneumonia?) saving Marius by wading in the sewers. In the book, after he marries Cosette, Marius is a real jerk to him and forces him to only meet with Cosette in a basement where he catches a chill and dies from it. Either way, Marius is a jerk and responsible for the death of the coolest French guy ever.

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