How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
Enjolvert
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How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby Enjolvert » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:14 am

Shortened to: I'm bored and want some interesting conversation of some sort.

But yeah, anyway, how do you think they would cope now in such a different society compared to then? For one, there's a good chance that the likes of Valjean and Fantine wouldn't be put through so much hardship now. Valjean's sentence for his crime would be pitiful if anything, while a single mother in Fantine would almost be in the majority.

Then there's Enjolras. I could see him as some sort of successful politician, with the likes of Combeferre and Courfeyrac as important people in his party.

Any others you have thoughts on? I'll go more developed into what the characters could be like once I've got something to respond to and work with.
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Acaila
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Re: How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby Acaila » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:48 am

So you're thinking if they were born into the modern world rather than suddenly finding themselves here in the adult form in which we know them best?

Also depends where in the world I guess, esp for the likes of Valjean. Fantine wouldn't have the same stigma, but there's still a whole lot of depressing crap that women in her sort of position go through every day in our supposedly better modern world :(
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:04 am

The Amis would do just fine. And I hate to say, so would the entire Thenardier family.

This is why I secretly enjoy some modern LM fanfiction: seeing some things actually work out.

The one who I think would get a bit of bashing for being too passive (in some women's views) is Cosette. But I think modern circumstances would make her very different.
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Re: How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby Courgette » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:12 am

Enjolvert wrote:Shortened to: I'm bored and want some interesting conversation of some sort.

But yeah, anyway, how do you think they would cope now in such a different society compared to then? For one, there's a good chance that the likes of Valjean and Fantine wouldn't be put through so much hardship now. Valjean's sentence for his crime would be pitiful if anything, while a single mother in Fantine would almost be in the majority.

Then there's Enjolras. I could see him as some sort of successful politician, with the likes of Combeferre and Courfeyrac as important people in his party.

Any others you have thoughts on? I'll go more developed into what the characters could be like once I've got something to respond to and work with.


What a brilliant topic to discuss!!

Valjean: Could be punished for stealing, but let off after a much milder sentence (or could even escape a jail-term, if it was his first offence, depending on how stern the law enforcers are).

Javert: He would feel SO out of place in the modern world!!

Fantine: Not stigmatized as much, but would certainly evoke reactions like,"You poor dear, it must be really difficult for you without a man...", making her seem like a weakling of sorts (if not immoral).

Éponine: Would not a street urchin. I see her going to school, and doing a respectable job. But I don't think I need to say anything about the "friendzoned" part!!

Marius: Much less socially awkward, and not distracted so much by Cosette. I can see him being a barrister (& paying a visit to the Les Amis as frequently as he can).

Cosette: Living with her mum, and leading a normal life (as normal as you can think of). And I can certainly see her being in a relationship with Marius.

Enjolras: Much beloved and popular political leader (& since he is an idealist, the youth would actually look up to him, unlike today's politicians). I can see him being the Prime Minister or President of a country, with the rest of the Les Amis being part of the cabinet (council of ministers). Can actually see him putting all efforts to eradicate corruption and oppression of any kind.

Thenardiers: They would have a flourishing business, I imagine. Or, I could even see them serving a jail term, if someone like Enjolras runs the country.

Gavroche: The Les Amis would ensure that he gets a good education, and attends a good school.
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:29 am

If they were set smack in the Third World (sorry, but the setting is so appropriate). I imagine them as they would be if they lived down the street from where I'm typing.....

Valjean: Gets into jail, may be stuck there for a while as he awaits trial, but ultimately gets free. But not unscarred.

Javert: The police bureaucrat everyone loves to hate. He would not be on the field a lot, but he'd be a higher-up in the precinct. He wouldn't be corrupt, but he'd be inclement.

The Bishop: Everyone's favorite priest, and though probably conservative, considered a voice of reason

Fantine: Would have MANY options and would not end up a prostitute. But she would have a hard time finding a stable job or one with a good career path due to her educational background.

Cosette: Grows up with Fantine raising her, and ends up normal, yes. She'd probably at least finish high school and maybe do something vocational if college wasn't feasible.

Marius: A typical, normal student, goes to a good university. He'd meet Cosette in school or because of mutual friends. He'd go into law school and make a good living after.

Éponine: Would be a bit of a mess till she gets her act together. Might be the girl some mothers warn their boys about. But she'd go to school. And have to be a working student.

The Thenardiers: Depending on what would happen: they could be in cahoots with the rich and powerful (and end up living it up and getting broke) or running the gambling den in the slums. Either way, everyone knows they are up to no good ,but no one would go after them.

Gavroche: He'd end up being sponsored in a halfway house for boys, and going to a better future. Leaving his parents would be the best thing that's happened to him.

Enjolras: Student leader in what we'd call the 'red' party. Would be either loved or derided depending on the university pulse at that time. And he'd become a radical lawyer or go into public service. However he'd be dodging death threats half the time!

Les Amis: All normal students (except maybe Feuilly, the one who'll have to stop school time to time to work). Combeferre would go into public health or mission work, and maybe go into the medical/political academe. Courfeyrac would be the lawyer who knows everyone and does things pro-bono. Jehan would be an up and coming young writer but also be called a hipster. Feuilly would lead a workers' union. Bahorel would be the overstaying law student, and maybe leave the post grad field to do something else. Joly would go into private medical practice. Bossuet would be going from place to place, or become a particularly unlucky reporter. Grantaire would end up either in AAA or be that university professor everyone loves since he's always stoned in class.

Patron-Minette: Constantly on the police blotter, but never actually getting caught. Or they'd be your 'guns for hire' during elections.
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Re: How would the characters cope in the modern world?

Postby tatselk » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:38 am

Valjean:
I would say that Valjean would technically be better off if he and his circumstances were directly transplanted to modern-day France. For a first-time offence of stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean would probably just get a fine or at most a day's imprisonment. Not to mention how the average French prison of today would presumably be way different from Toulon. So pretty much the injustice and existential angst of being imprisoned for 19 years and doing hard labour for the state would be non-existent.

However, if one takes into account of today's socio-economic conditions, Valjean's life may not be that much better in substance. He might spend most of his life living in a poverty-stricken, semi-criminal environment and at best struggle with having to depend on social welfare half of the time. Also, we shouldn't forget that Valjean mostly managed to turn his life around and became the mayor of M--.-sur-M--. etc., because of the lack of shared database records or other modern technological means to trace his real identity. Had Valjean escaped from prison in today's context, he would either (a) been recaptured fairly quickly, especially if he rose to such a prominent position in society in such a short span of time; or (b) have escaped into the nameless void of urban ghettos and lived on the fringes of society, in order to evade the authorities.

If the entire Les Mis story was set in today's world, I imagine that instead of being an ex-con who broke his parole and went on the run, ModernDay!Valjean would be a shopkeeper/ businessman whom the police suspect of running some illegal sidelines/ engaging in some criminal enterprise. So Javert is sent to keep an (unusually close) eye on him. Alas, Javert never actually manages to catch Valjean committing any crime. Kinda like the Count D/ Leon Orcot dynamics in the manga, Petshop of Horrors. :)

Javert:
Given that we still have a great deal of police bureaucracy and structural inequalities in society nearly 200 years on, Javert can probably be transplanted to the modern world and yet remain largely unchanged.

I imagine that ModernDay!Javert would still have been born in a prison to parents who are imprisoned and suffered from the double whammy of racial discrimination and socio-economic discrimination. Presumably, he would then strive to escape from his roots, whilst being raised by foster parents or in a children’s welfare home. Eventually, Javert manages to get onto the police force and rise up through the ranks, whilst keeping an eye on Valjean, in the manner mentioned above.

On a sidenote, I think Javert would love being a police officer in the modern world because of all the nifty tools and gadgets, which he can have at his disposal to maintain law and order. Haha. :lol:

Fantine:
Based on her background as a working-class single mum without much educational qualifications or support from any family or friends, Fantine in the modern world is likely to still struggle with juggling multiple minimum-wage jobs. I imagine that one of her jobs would have been working for Valjean but she was fired by her direct superior because of her ill-health/ inability to cope with multiple jobs (rather than for being a single mum).

At some point, ModernDay!Fantine might have turned to part-time prostitution and eventually died from AIDs or street violence or something. The whole Valjean-taking-Cosette-away-from-the-Thenardiers-and-raising-her-as-his-own part of Les Mis can then still take place wholesale, as Valjean would still have felt guilty for not looking more closely into Fantine’s problems.

Cosette:
Assuming the above happens, there would be hardly be any change for ModernDay!Cosette’s childhood as she would likely still have been treated as free child labour by the Thenardiers (maybe by working illegally in a sweatshop or restaurant) before being rescued and raised by Valjean. However, in her adulthood, Cosette would probably have gone to university, met Marius there and taken part in the demonstrations of the Les Amis.

Marius:
Pretty much the same in substance, I would think.

ModernDay!Marius may have been raised by his grandfather after his parents died working for an NGO in some remote part of the world/ protesting against some injustice (given that in the original Les Mis, the Pontmercys were not exactly conventional). Marius would have had a comfortable upper-middle class upbringing and went off to law school at university. Whilst he would get to know the Les Amis at university and joined them in their cause(s), Marius is likely to forget about these ideals after awhile. He would end up marrying Cosette and working as a lawyer in a big corporate law practice.

Enjolras:
Like Marius, I don’t think Enjolras in the modern world differ much in substance from his original self. At university, he’d probably be involved in all sorts of student political groups and promoting social causes/ civil rights like greater income equality or LGBT rights. Due to Enjolras’s constant organisation of protests, which often turn violent, he ends up seeing Javert more often than he would like to.

In keeping with the sombre tone of Les Mis, ModernDay!Enjolras may not die but ironically live to turn into what he was fighting against in the first place: a corrupt, tyrannical and oppressive politician… :twisted:

Éponine:
I like to think that in the modern world, Éponine would be studying alongside Cosette, Marius and Enjolras in the same university. Although she is a scholarship student, Éponine would also try to earn more money for her family by working part-time. Unfortunately, in one of Enjolras’s protests-which-turned-violent, Éponine would be caught in the crossfire and shot by accident.

The Thenardiers:
No big difference. The world would always have clever, sneaky and unscrupulous people who manage to get away with wrongdoings. Haha.

Digressions:
I think I may have accidentally set out the scene for a ModernDay! AU Les Mis fic. :shock:


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