...Why?

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
Rachel
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...Why?

Postby Rachel » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:19 pm

I'm sorry if a thread like this already exists, but this has been bothering me so much lately. In the Epilogue, Fantine comes out and is all, "blah blah blah I'll lead you to salvation" and then Éponine just shows up and also sings Valjean to heaven.

What is she doing there?

Is it just because their harmonies sound nice together? I mean, Valjean met her once in the play, and never in the book. WHY ARE YOU THERE, ÉPONINE? DO YOU JUST SHOW UP WHEREVER? ARE YOU AND FANTINE HEAVEN BFFS?

I'm so confused.
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Acaila
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Acaila » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:24 pm

I don't think there's ever been an official answer. :D
My headcanon version is that they're not just coming for Valjean, but they're coming to see the people they love living in happiness, so Marius and Cosette. Well, Cosette's crying, but generally happy.
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Flynn
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Flynn » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:26 pm

I actually think it's a bit of crass manipulation because Éponine is one of the more popular characters for the show.

If you wanted to be less cynical, shes' the only other female that dies in the show and they may have wanted a dual female harmony there. Either way, I much prefer the Bishop showing up (though in all cases I prefer the OFC version of the Epilogue).

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Re: ...Why?

Postby Gervais » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:48 pm

Yeah, it's probably a harmony thing, though I like Acaila's headcanon too. At least the harmony is a pretty one. And I've already talked about my weakness to pretty harmonies a hundred times. It's still a subject of most parodies, though, and rightfully so.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:51 pm

It really probably is just about the harmonies and heartstrings, though I actually like that idea of Acaila's, as well. I heard someone say once that it was because they were both thankful for how he'd saved their greatest love. But I like the Bishop there better, too.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Enjolvert » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:59 pm

Harmonies seems like the main reason, and that she's arguably the second most important 'good' character after Fantine who's died earlier in it. Thinking on it, at that stage there's no one bigger in the musical bar Fantine when talking about Éponine who died and could be characterised as one of the good guys. Javert is far from a villain of course, but it would be plain bizarre with him there.

Plus, it can represent the love from each of them. Fantine is showing her appreciation and love for Valjean looking after her child, while Éponine continues to show her love to Marius. The latters arguably a bit weird though, as she's still stalking him from beyond the grave.

I agree the bishop fits better, but the main problem is people remembering who he is if they don't know the show well, and that his death is never actually specified, nevermind being a major moment of the show like Éponine's is. I do think he does fit better though.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby freedomlover » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:40 pm

I'm not really sure myself... :/


What if Enjolras was the other one leading him to heaven?
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Acaila
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Acaila » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:00 am

Why would that happen?
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Re: ...Why?

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:14 am

Enjolras has nothing to do with love. Or salvation.

Enjolras is a counterpoint to the Bishop. The Bishop is concerned for Valjean's soul, not merely his earthly success. Enjolras isn't acting for anyone to be saved eternally; he's looking for an overturning of the economic and political order so that no one will have to look to eternity since peace cannot be attained on earth. (here I mean "peace of mind", really - rest, a life that isn't a constant war against poverty and ignorance) It isnt that Enjolras is an atheist, it's that his concerns are not in the afterlife. The Bishop does what he can for the bodies on earth, but his real concern is for the soul mounting to heaven.

Love, in the sense "to love another person is to see the face of God" after "take my hand, i'll lead you to salvation", doesn't enter into anything Enjolras has been doing. Because eternity doesn't enter into it.
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Acaila
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Acaila » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:26 am

MmeBahorel wrote:Enjolras isn't acting for anyone to be saved eternally; he's looking for an overturning of the economic and political order so that no one will have to look to eternity since peace cannot be attained on earth.


That's a nicely succinct summation of him :)

The other thing I was thinking of, for the original question, is that Fantine, Éponine and Valjean are the three strong examples of the theme of sacrifice for love. I guess tying them together would therefore be an attempt to emphasise that theme.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Courgette » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:28 am

Good question. Valjean wasn't even aware that Éponine was a GIRL when she delivered the letter.

For Fantine, the only thing that mattered to her in her life was her daughter's well-being - nothing more. It was selfless love of the highest kind.

The musical completely butchers Éponine's character, if you ask me. In the Brick, she did have the attitude of "if I can't have Marius, even Cosette cannot have him" - complete stalker behaviour. Why did Boublil & Schoenberg butcher her character so much? No idea.

Fortunately, the movie remedied this situation by taking her out of the Epilogue, and putting in the Bishop - a man who ACTUALLY made a big difference to Valjean's life.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:42 am

She isn't really there for Valjean. As Enjolvert said, she's there as a sacrifice for love, a representative for Marius.

Unfortuntely, this makes more sense with her death in the novel (which they fixed for the film, to align with the original death, but then cut her from the deathbed to give the Bishop his rightful place). Fantine gave her life for Cosette; Éponine gave her life to save Marius. Thus both are there as sacrifices for love, come to Valjean not for Valjean himself but to take away (kindly) the final barrier between the perfect union of Marius and Cosette.

Now, with the musical staging of Éponine's death, I'm not sure delivering a letter and coming back to be with him really counts as a sacrifice. But Éponine is the only person other than Cosette that we've seen love Marius. But I think the idea is that we're seeing maternal love and romantic love being handed over, if you will. Both types are represented by the dead that we see, and both dead people are there for their loved one, not entirely for Valjean. (note that Éponine doesn't enter until Marius is there. Fantine is the one who really came for Valjean, because he finished what was really her task, the maternal part.)

Which is to say, I'm not saying the traditional staging is good, but I do wonder if it was initially linked to a novel-based concept of Éponine's death and then never changed after the death got edited. It makes a lot more sense if Éponine gave her life, literally, to save Marius, the way Fantine destroyed her health and thus gave up her life for Cosette.
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Enjolvert » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:49 am

Courgette wrote:Good question. Valjean wasn't even aware that Éponine was a GIRL when she delivered the letter.

For Fantine, the only thing that mattered to her in her life was her daughter's well-being - nothing more. It was selfless love of the highest kind.

The musical completely butchers Éponine's character, if you ask me. In the Brick, she did have the attitude of "if I can't have Marius, even Cosette cannot have him" - complete stalker behaviour. Why did Boublil & Schoenberg butcher her character so much? No idea.

Fortunately, the movie remedied this situation by taking her out of the Epilogue, and putting in the Bishop - a man who ACTUALLY made a big difference to Valjean's life.


As I said and Mme Bahorel repeated, it's not really Valjean she's there for. She represents that general theme of love at the end of the show and turns up once Marius is there. Yes, the bishop fits better in that scene, however in the stage show his death is never specified and a lot won't even remember who he is. At least with Éponine, you've got someone there who they'll know and recognise even if it's their first time, and who can represent that idea of love.

I wouldn't say they 'butchered' her character. Yes, it's toned down from the crazy side in the brick, but as I've said it's really overstated by some people. Yes, there's perhaps a hint of insanity there, but she's not completely insane. She acts the way many people would around someone if they were obsessed with them. I often think of brave more than insane perhaps, especially when it comes to the Rue Plumet scene and she doesn't have a problem with confronting Thenardier and Patron Minette.

A lot of it's open to interpretation too. Different actresses play the role in different ways and while you might get the odd one who plays it cardboard copy of a girl in love, you'll get plenty who have their own unique approach and give that impression of the Éponine from the book.
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Acaila
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Acaila » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:58 am

I really liked that they restored her book death in the film. And I absolutely agree that it would make the stage show ending make more sense.

Also it's quite rude and shortsighted to blame Boublil and Schoenberg for "butchering" a character when they were hardly the only ones with a role in any changes. Every lyricist, director, in house director and performer has a hand in the creation of a character onstage. Especially considering most of the criticisms of Éponine's character in the musical do not stem from the original French version.
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Flynn
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Re: ...Why?

Postby Flynn » Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:42 am

I do feel Éponine has strayed a lot from her original character, but I actually place that at the fault of the show (and specifically "On My Own"'s) immense and growing popularity over the years and how perceptions of Éponine as a character have changed. You look at Frances Ruffelle, who totally fits the original conception of Éponine and interprets the role in that fashion, and compare her to someone like, say, Samantha Barks, who is much more the 'modern' interpretation of the role. Both good performances, and both using the exact same material, but between them the perception of the role has changed slightly.


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