Date of Award




Faculty Advisor

Fletcher, Anne


Extracted directly for performance from Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, the themes of justice and democracy found in the wildly popular musical Les Misérables are intentionally universal. As foundational philosophies of the United States, those motifs are especially powerful to Americans. The finale song Do You Hear the People Sing? particularly prescribes rule by the people – democracy – as a medicine for the disease of injustice. This paper will juxtapose the contemporary United States with the world of the play Les Mis, through a window of democracy. A deliberate director can tailor a production specifically for an American audience, connecting concepts of the U.S. justice and governmental system with the events of the musical.


I could not have asked for a more caring, or enthusiastic faculty mentor than Dr. Anne Fletcher, who I would like to thank for her guidance and patience with me on this project and throughout my entire time with theater at SIU. I'm also grateful to my father, Eric Nielsen for his help proofreading multiple drafts, and my mother, Sandy Nielsen, who listened to my stressed phone calls during a period of writer's block and never doubted that I would finish. I thank my friends who stayed up late to hear me read this paper to them, and all my co-workers in Schneider Hall and in the Theater Department Costume Shop who encouraged me to keep writing. Finally, I am grateful for the University Honors program, and the opportunity to pursue a project that includes many of my academic interests.