Jean Valjean: After serving nineteen years in prison (for stealing a loaf of bread and for multiple attempts to escape), Jean Valjean is finally released. Through the goodness of the Bishop of Digne, he decides to turn his life around, but to do so he must change his identity and break his parole. He helps Fantine before her death and later adopts her daughter Cosette as his own. He spends the rest of his life trying to keep her safe, while continuously being pursued by Inspector Javert who would arrest him for breaking his parole.
Inspector Javert: A self-righteous lawman, Inspector Javert believes justice and the law reign supreme. After Valjean breaks his parole, Javert hunts him for the rest of his life, convinced that humans cannot change for the better and that bringing him to justice is all that matters. In the end, however, he cannot reconcile his hatred of Valjean and Valjean’s mercy towards him, and he takes his own life.
The Bishop of Digne: He gives shelter to Valjean after his release from prison. After Valjean is caught stealing silver, the bishop maintains it was a gift and then gives him two more silver candlesticks. He instructs they are to be used to become “an honest man.” His acts of kindness inspire Valjean and set him on his journey to redemption.
Fantine: A worker at Valjean’s factory, Fantine loses her job and is forced to become a prostitute in order to pay the Thénardiers to take care of her daughter Cosette. When Valjean learns of her plight and as she is dying of consumption, she asks Valjean to care for Cosette.
Cosette: Fantine’s daughter who lives as a servant to the Thénardiers, Cosette is rescued by Valjean at age eight and is raised by him in Paris, knowing nothing about her past. At seventeen, she meets and falls in love with Marius, and eventually marries him.
The Thénardiers: Dishonest and callous innkeepers, the Thénardiers steal and thieve at any given chance.
Eponine: Daughter of the Thénardiers, Eponine grows up with and is unkind to Cosette, until Valjean takes her away. Later, at seventeen she is destitute, living on the streets of Paris and is secretly in love with Marius. She is killed at the barricades during the student insurrection.
Gavroche: A boy who lives on the streets of Paris, Gavroche helps the student revolutionaries and dies in one of the battles.
Enjolras: Leader of the student revolutionaries, Enjolras is a good friend of Marius.
Marius Pontmercy: A student revolutionary who is friends with Eponine, Marius falls in love with Cosette and is later rescued from the barricades by Valjean who eventually gives Marius and Cosette permission to be married.
Thénardier’s Gang: A band of thugs who try to rob Valjean’s house.
Combeferre, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Joly, Lesgles, Grantaire, Prouvaire: Student revolutionaries
Other Prisoners, Townspeople, Prostitutes, Beggars, Students, and Wedding Guests