Let me put it this way: the hero (or, one of the heroes) of Les Miserables is a dude who, having learnt important moral lessons about stealing from the Catholic Church, becomes the prosperous mayor of a town and factory owner.
This is Good because he is Employing People and Growing The Economy.
In the popular perception of the narrative, there’s a fight between two women factory workers, and Valjean delegates the dispute to his foreman, who sexually harasses the workforce and in a complete stereotype of a move, fires Fantine because she won’t touch his penis.
So … Valjean, the hero, allows a not-exactly-subtle-about-it (because this is a musical, so characters can’t be drawn in three dimensions) rapist to have authority over a largely female workforce, and then when he figures out that Fantine’s subsequent suffering and death are pretty much all his (Valjean’s) fault, it’s all heart-rending and shirt-tearing and woe is I and not a single thought given to all the other women who were probably victimized on his watch.
How fucking heroic.
Then he’s set up in this epic eternal grudge match against Javert, who is meant to be the villain because he doesn’t believe in the power of rehabilitation. Yet who can blame him, when Valjean is all “look, I understand I broke my parole, but I have to save this child and then I promise I’ll turn myself in in three days” and then fucks right off with said child for ten years.
And Javert’s somehow unreasonably cynical about Valjean’s honour? Valjean’s lucky Javert didn’t find out about the whole “letting a rapist sexually harass an entire factory of economically-oppressed women” thing.
Not to mention Javert gets all the good songs.
And seriously, don’t even start me on
the MacGuffin Cosette.