Unnecessary deaths?

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:10 am

So, yeah, while an Eponine-Cosette reconciliation would've been awesome (seriously, Hugo? You put in that many weird coincidences and chance meetings but you didn't think of that one?) I unfortunately can't think of much a not-dead Éponine could do besides that. :(
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby Rachel » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:17 am

I dunno. I'd say the fact they were unnecessary makes them more necessary, if that makes any sense.

Like, what Marius says in ECaET (Oh, my friends, my friends, don't ask me what your sacrifice was for) makes a lot of sense to me. Like, what did they really die for? Did France change at all after they all laid down their lives for a people who had abandoned them? No. Did anyone remember them? No. Did the people of Paris, the poor and downtrodden, who they were fighting for, even care? Nope. The whole rebellion was such a waste, a waste of human lives, of potential, of energy, of excitement, of youth, of so many things. Every death of every Amis is unnecessary, but that's what makes it so heartbreaking and perfect. Because to change around Oreal's slogan, because it's not worth it. And the fact that nothing changed is necessary to the plot, so every Amis has to be dead, in my opinion. The waste is necessary to Hugo's point.

Of course, before you all jump down my throat for not understanding the June Rebellion and what they were all fighting for, I'd like to weakly defend myself. I know that 1848 couldn't have happened without all of these false starts and the anger that they caused, but in the short term, it was pointless and seemed unnecessary. Are we cool?

And Madame Thénardier's death served a purpose, at least to me. She's so often described as a monster like creature, so many things that make her seem like a cockroach and therefore nearly impossible to kill. But she dies of something so normal, so boring, so natural, that it feels like Hugo is saying something about the monsters of society, and of not just the monsters we create in our minds, but the heroes as well. Like, when the brave, good Amis die, most of them die grouped in one sentence, just "so and so and so and so and so and so were all dead". Them and Madame Thénardier all died in such a boring way. Because we build our heroes to be invincible Gods, and we build our villains to be invincible monsters. We make our heroes Zeus and our villains Kronos, and that only our Gods can kill our Titans. But the people we build into Gods, as well as the people we make villains are only human, and just as flimsy as we are. And that that's important to remember. We're so afraid of the people we make out to be mammoths of men and women that we forget they're just human. We're just as powerful as they are. We can take our monsters down ourselves, we don't need to wait around for a hero to show up.

Gavroche was lucky. As is made clear by Hugo, there are two ways to escape the horrifying, destructive poverty experienced by so many people in France and the world then and now. There was being miraculously rescued from the depths of poverty and getting to live a life that was more than survive, but living (Cosette). Or, you could die while you still had your innocence (Gavroche). But, if like Éponine, you lived, you were stuck. Your innocence would be corrupted, and your life would be tossed aside. You wouldn't matter. You'd eventually lose all sense of right and wrong, and you could become like Montparnasse, a killer and member of the most dangerous gang in Paris, who had once been an urchin, just like Gavroche. Or, you could become a hopeless person who could live or die, and it would make no difference to anyone. Or, like Éponine, you could get something, something to try to pull yourself out of the abyss of poverty with (Marius), and cling on with everything you had. But, for Éponine it didn't work, because one cannot fight the power of poverty, it's like trying to avoid gravity. You'll still get pulled down into the abyss, and the only escape is death, which is why 'Ponine is so happy to die. She's free. She doesn't have to fight anymore.

M. Mabeuf's death was so pointless. It was for the sake of raising a flag. It was a waste of a life, but it was for the sake of a victory. That a small victory, like M. Mabeuf's raising of the flag when all of the Amis were too afraid to do it, that willed them to keep fighting. That that flag was raised, despite the cost. They won something there, even if it was tiny. M. Mabeuf died to keep the revolution alive. The raising and waving of the flag all throughout history has been done by martyrs like him, but the martyrs who are forgotten by history are just as important as Napoleon or Cleopatra or Caesar. The ones who kept the revolution alive, even for a minute by raising the flag at the expense of their lives are the ones who save us all, who keep us going no matter how tough it gets. And Mabeuf deserves credit for being one of those martyrs.

I do think Valjean needs to die, but I've gone on enough of a rant here that I won't bore you all to tears with that. Erm, please excuse my ranting. Apparently 2 AM makes Rachel Grantaire.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Fri May 03, 2013 2:31 am

As a clarification about sparing a couple of Amis, I wasn't talking about major ones like Grantaire and Courfeyrac (even Combeferre probably has to go, really). I was just thinking, like, Joly and Bossuet for instance didn't seem particularly close to Marius, so if they lived they'd probably go back to doing... Joly-and-Bossuet things and not really impact the plot. It would reduce the tragedy of Marius's situation, though, you're right.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby FortressDoor » Sun May 05, 2013 6:08 pm

I don't think any of the deaths were unnessecary. Some may have been less nessecary than others, but all served a purpose, however small.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby AFarawaySong » Tue May 21, 2013 8:16 pm

I DIDN'T realise Mme. Thenardier was dead until Thenardier showed up with Azelma at the wedding... :shock:
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby saminana » Tue May 21, 2013 8:26 pm

I didn't know until I read it here. Then I asked my mother and she didn't know it...
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby CeridwenLynne » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:33 am

I really don't think it was necessary for all the Amis to die. As the leader Enjolras probably had to die but I think someone like Feuilly or Joly or perhaps even Combeferre could have been spared.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby LauraLeZunzu » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:04 pm

I think all of them needed to die (oh my god how bad that does sound... :mrgreen: )
The book is called "Les Misérables". It shows faith in Humanity but, aswell, the bad situation wich was the 19th Century. It is a denouncement to unfairness, and it is for people to realize about how unfair it is bad things happenning to good people.
This applies to the death of Fantine (fighting for women's rights).
All of the barricade boys needed to die for the plot Hugo wanted too; they were young people who looked forward the future, who werefrom the future. They were too advanced for his era, and it is so unfair that so many young people died, when they had normal lives (in the book you see how all of them were friends (maybe Enjolras is over all of that, but they needed to die because he represented that revolution). If one revolutionary (Marius does not count as that haha) would had survived, the denouncement against those massacres wouldn't be the same.
Gavroche needed to die to represent the unfairness to children, how unprotected they were that they died fighting for human rights when they hadn't age enough to know what actually was that. And soldiers actually shoot him, what is the worst and represents tirany.
Mabeuf needed to die too, because, as in the book says, he represents the old revolutions; not only young can fight for freedom, and is wisdom (wich only can be really found in oldness) wich make the young revolutionaires have the faith and strenght enough.
So government killed children, young and old people. Hugo denounced all kind of 19th century repressions here.
Éponine needed to die to show the impossibility of two people from different social classes to be together; and how miserable her life was, she would rather die and try if it would work to achieve the dream of being with someone like Marius; Marius represents a scape from her world.
Mdme Thénardier needed to die to show that evil make always the worst and affects everybody around you. Thénardier's bad acts end up with the death of her wife and daughter, but he can scape for a "better world". It is the most tragic end for a family, and is shows again how Misérables they were, for the father's fault, but how unfair it is that he is the one who is still alive. Again, the environment of injustice.
Javert needed to die, opposing it to Valjean at the beggining of the book. But it is actually faith in humanity; he is so straight with his ideals, he can't live without taking Valjean. And he rather die than taking Valjean, and right before he leaves a note denouncing unfair things. He is so solid that he can't change his world and ideals withou completely breaking down and leaving this world. Is Valjean who can survive that.
And Valjean's death broke my heart. I think he needed to die to complete the story, but I don't want to think that was his better end. I think he didn't deserve that suffering at his last days :cry:
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby Chantefleurie » Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:50 pm

Rachel wrote:I dunno. I'd say the fact they were unnecessary makes them more necessary, if that makes any sense.


Yes!

Rachel wrote:And Madame Thénardier's death served a purpose, at least to me. She's so often described as a monster like creature, so many things that make her seem like a cockroach and therefore nearly impossible to kill. But she dies of something so normal, so boring, so natural, that it feels like Hugo is saying something about the monsters of society, and of not just the monsters we create in our minds, but the heroes as well. Like, when the brave, good Amis die, most of them die grouped in one sentence, just "so and so and so and so and so and so were all dead". Them and Madame Thénardier all died in such a boring way. Because we build our heroes to be invincible Gods, and we build our villains to be invincible monsters. We make our heroes Zeus and our villains Kronos, and that only our Gods can kill our Titans. But the people we build into Gods, as well as the people we make villains are only human, and just as flimsy as we are. And that that's important to remember. We're so afraid of the people we make out to be mammoths of men and women that we forget they're just human. We're just as powerful as they are. We can take our monsters down ourselves, we don't need to wait around for a hero to show up.


Also, I think it's worth noting the different effects of these two sentences despite the similar structure (thanks for pointing that out!). When Mme T kicks the bucket, my feeling at least was "she had it coming. Not sorry for her one bit". But the Amis... Each additional name twists your gut. X died - no! and Y died - no, no! and Z died - no, not him too!

And on the topic of Mme T, I think her death was necessary for another reason as well. The Thenardiers were very successful at surviving in that miserable world. Their luck seemed to be a bit too unfair considering their methods and their blunders. I think Mme Thenardier's death shows that luck must one day run out for all people, and that these crooked people were just temporarily lucky, no more.


But on the brighter side of the coin, there are two particular lives that (surprisingly) DON'T end in death - Gavroche's two younger brothers. Nor is there a giant revelation where any of the characters finds out about their true birth. I think there's a definite positive note on that, because the two lads live (at least for a time), and because of Gavroche's incredible selflessness to perceived strangers. In a way he taught them how to exist in their new world, he gave his life to them. It's the counter-theme to the idea of oppression: when all that people have is two candle holders, and they give them away.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby 23623 » Thu May 19, 2016 10:21 am

Revive this!
Rachel wrote:Like, what Marius says in ECaET (Oh, my friends, my friends, don't ask me what your sacrifice was for) makes a lot of sense to me. Like, what did they really die for? Did France change at all after they all laid down their lives for a people who had abandoned them? No. Did anyone remember them? No. Did the people of Paris, the poor and downtrodden, who they were fighting for, even care? Nope. The whole rebellion was such a waste, a waste of human lives, of potential, of energy, of excitement, of youth, of so many things. Every death of every Amis is unnecessary, but that's what makes it so heartbreaking and perfect. Because to change around Oreal's slogan, because it's not worth it. And the fact that nothing changed is necessary to the plot, so every Amis has to be dead, in my opinion. The waste is necessary to Hugo's point.

"Every death of every Amis is unnecessary, but that's what makes it so heartbreaking and perfect...The waste is necessary to Hugo's point." --> second this! This is exactly how I interpret the amis' death. It's unnecessary in the sense that it doesn't change anything, but it's necessary for the plot.
Speaking of this, I really think leaving the barricade is a better choice than fighting a hopeless fight. I don't understand why they chose to fight in the first place, since the possibility of winning was obviously low and dying was not even heroic (it may be, for individuals who die for their ideals, but they will be forgotten by history after all and even if they weren't, they would be remembered as criminals or traitors). The most important reason for their failure was the lack of support from people, and the people didn't support the revolution because they weren't aware that this could be a chance to change their life. So why not focusing on educating them? The world can't be changed without changing the people, and changing the people takes a long time. Dying at the barricade couldn't change people's attitude. They were used to this weren't they? But as long as the amis are alive, they can exert long-term influence on people with their ways of thinking and their knowledge, and hopefully rekindle their flame some time in the future when the people are really ready. This could have been a more rational strategy to change the world!

Rachel wrote:M. Mabeuf's death was so pointless. It was for the sake of raising a flag. It was a waste of a life, but it was for the sake of a victory. That a small victory, like M. Mabeuf's raising of the flag when all of the Amis were too afraid to do it, that willed them to keep fighting. That that flag was raised, despite the cost. They won something there, even if it was tiny. M. Mabeuf died to keep the revolution alive. The raising and waving of the flag all throughout history has been done by martyrs like him, but the martyrs who are forgotten by history are just as important as Napoleon or Cleopatra or Caesar. The ones who kept the revolution alive, even for a minute by raising the flag at the expense of their lives are the ones who save us all, who keep us going no matter how tough it gets. And Mabeuf deserves credit for being one of those martyrs.

Exactly what I was thinking while reading that part. At first I thought this must be the most ridiculous reason to die in the entire book. Seriously, he died raising a flag? It made me want to punch Enjolras. (What kind of leader are you if this is enough to scare you? Go raise that flag yourself!) I had a feeling that Hugo was in so much haste to Make A Point here that his narration made the whole thing a bit unrealistic and out-of-character (I literally rolled my eyes at the afraid-of-raising-a-flag amis). It seemed to me like he's shouting to the audience "hey guys attention please, someone seriously needs to die for the revolution here, with or without a rational reason". But after all, Mabeuf's death is just another application of Hugo Symbolism and we don't really need to be too picky about all the symbolistic stuff as long as we Get That Point. On the other hand, I always feel that Mabeuf's presence was some sort of relief. He was one of the very few people who cared about the revolution and gave the amis some courage to continue the fight. Too bad that the relief was so frail and gone too soon!

Gervais wrote:Actually Em, Courfeyrac and Combeferre would be the first two on my list of Neccesary Amis Deaths under Enjolras and Grantaire. They complete the triumvirate along with Enjolras, and Courfeyrac's death is probably the one that affects Marius the most because he was the closest Ami to him. (Courfeyrac as the Best Man at the wedding is fanon, I'm pretty sure, but it would actually make sense in a modern AU at the least, because that's almost the only person who could fill the role.)

Honestly I'm a bit doubtful about the Marius-Courfeyrac friendship. I don't know whether Marius really considers Courfeyrac as a "close friend" because even Courfeyrac's death didn't seem to affect him that much. When asked about Courfeyrac later, Marius was like "err, yeah, he was dead"...as if he were talking about some stranger's death in the news! Don't know if this impression is due to translation though. I wasn't reading an English translation. But that was what made me doubt. I was expecting some ECAET-equivalent moments but Marius' reaction here totally disappointed me.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby Ursula_F » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:21 pm

My vote for unnecessary death may be controversial: Jean Valjean. I'm definitely not saying his death is BAD - it's very bittersweet and moving in the novel, and I love how, in the movie, the Bishop is waiting for him. That's lovely and awesome! So I'm not complaining or anything! But after everything he'd been through, would it have been SO terrible to let him go back with Marius and Cosette after reconciling with them, and have a peaceful old age with his family around him? It broke my heart in the book when Cosette was telling him how he'd have his own room, and his own part of the garden, and he and she would be gardening together in the summer, and he'd taste her strawberries and she'd check out his roses, and in the evenings he would play cards with Marius' grandfather, etc. It was such a sweet idea - I would have loved to see that happen, instead of him dying. I AM glad he died happy and reconciled with them, but it was still SOOOO sad!

So I don't think it would have ruined anything to let him live. It's not like Javert, who really HAD to commit suicide to be true to his character.

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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby ThatInspector » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:15 pm

I'm fairly certain there's a movie version that just ends with the Marius/Cosette wedding, and Valjean DOESN'T die...but I can't remember which one...
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby 23623 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:40 pm

Ursula_F wrote:My vote for unnecessary death may be controversial: Jean Valjean. I'm definitely not saying his death is BAD - it's very bittersweet and moving in the novel, and I love how, in the movie, the Bishop is waiting for him. That's lovely and awesome! So I'm not complaining or anything! But after everything he'd been through, would it have been SO terrible to let him go back with Marius and Cosette after reconciling with them, and have a peaceful old age with his family around him? It broke my heart in the book when Cosette was telling him how he'd have his own room, and his own part of the garden, and he and she would be gardening together in the summer, and he'd taste her strawberries and she'd check out his roses, and in the evenings he would play cards with Marius' grandfather, etc. It was such a sweet idea - I would have loved to see that happen, instead of him dying. I AM glad he died happy and reconciled with them, but it was still SOOOO sad!

So I don't think it would have ruined anything to let him live. It's not like Javert, who really HAD to commit suicide to be true to his character.

For me this is exactly the reason why Valjean needs to die. Just like the amis, the fact that his death doesn't seem "necessary" (well I doubt if we can actually say so considering his age lol) makes it necessary. He could have enjoy some moments of peace after all the sufferings in his life but the days he could spend happily with Marius and Cosette were numbered. Made me want to hug him, pray for him and cry for him... :cry: On the other hand, I feel that his death makes the story complete. A happy-ever-after certainly isn't bad but I really prefer concluding the book with his death. Can't rationally explain why... :oops:
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby deHavilland » Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:25 pm

One could say that death is Valjean's "happily ever after." His task of caring for Cosette has reached its logical conclusion: she's married and has a husband to care for her, and now he gets to cash in his well-earned voucher for One Eternal Reward in the Wild Blue Yonder.
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Re: Unnecessary deaths?

Postby 23623 » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:08 pm

deHavilland wrote:One could say that death is Valjean's "happily ever after." His task of caring for Cosette has reached its logical conclusion: she's married and has a husband to care for her, and now he gets to cash in his well-earned voucher for One Eternal Reward in the Wild Blue Yonder.

YES exactly!!!!
ThatInspector wrote:I'm fairly certain there's a movie version that just ends with the Marius/Cosette wedding, and Valjean DOESN'T die...but I can't remember which one...

:shock: :shock: :shock:
Please tell me once you figure it out...I'm intrigued!
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