Meta: Writing Enjolras, especially slash and romance

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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a_marguerite
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Postby a_marguerite » Sat Mar 10, 2007 4:13 am

A Les Mis and Dorian Gray cross-over sounds unbelievably cool.

In my opinion, Enjolras is on something of a different plane, romance- wise. He is so intensely dedicated to the republic that his private life remains a mystery (which is why, I think, that it's so appealing to write about). There's lots of room for exploration, and it's fascinating to try and discover why, exactly, Enjolras is a Marble Statue Extraordinaire once we've been introduced to him through Marius.

I've always thought that, if Enjolras ever did experience romance, it was most likely before he became such a commited republican and revolutionary leader. After that, it would have to be someone who he felt exemplified his beloved republic- in my interpretation of Enjolras, if he wanted something, he would actively go out and get it. He doesn't appear to be the sort of person to dabble in romantic affairs, a la Courfeyrac. He'd be very much all or nothing, with an emphasis on nothing, since he seems to be a priest to his ideals, complete with the vow of chastity.

In any case, that's my two sous. ^^

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:55 pm

Character evolution in "Les Misérables"...I guess, unless one is writing a multi-chapter fic that spans a good deal of time, this is one thing authors don't have to take so much into consideration, especially if they write about Les Amis or Enjolras in particular.

But well, in writing 'A Thenardier's Redemption', I had to answer that question: if Enjolras were ever to actually get into a relationship (and note, I didn't say 'fall in love'), how would he go about it? In a universe where revolution succeeded? Or in other dysfunctional circumstances?

Unfortunately, I had to answer all three of those questions in a long fic that had a timeline of one year. And I'm pretty sure that my Enjolras resents me slightly for the awkwardness I put him through.

I figured he'd be extremely aloof, or almost non-commital in any relationship. Of course, that's more evident in E!/R pairing, or in Ami pairings, but in het pairings, especially E/E...I don't know.

I doubt though that in a plausible EE (an oxymoronic statement :lol:), Enjolras would really want to be more than Éponine's friend/benefactor/protector/mentor...anything but overly romantic. Which causes a lot of the comedy/tension in my writing.
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:04 pm

*bumps thread*

If Enjolras could be written as likeable, how would you do it?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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MmeJavert
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Postby MmeJavert » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:48 am

I don't necessarily think Enjolras is unlikeable as he is.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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lesmisloony
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Postby lesmisloony » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:04 am

I kinda do...
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Schmerg_The_Impaler
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Postby Schmerg_The_Impaler » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:24 pm

Ummmm.... well, I think I'm kinda inclined to agree with Loony....
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:55 pm

Heh, I find Enjolras a little cold, but not completely unlikeable. But if say, I was to ask some of you guys how to make a fic where you wouldn't scream at him, how would you do it?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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MmeJavert
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Postby MmeJavert » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:00 pm

Cold, yes. Perhaps not very socially inclined, yes. But these things don't necessarily make someone unlikeable. Unapproachable, definitely. But ...mmm, I just don't see how in canon I'd be inclined to scream at him or anything. *shrug*
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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SylvieProuvaire1832
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Postby SylvieProuvaire1832 » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:55 pm

Perhaps what Aurelia means is what would you do to write Enjolras into a functional relationship where both sides are happy?
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:08 pm

Something like that. Lord knows, I tried for my fics, and it is difficult...
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Postby Marianne » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:55 pm

*pokes thread*

Well, most of his canon screen time is either acting as a commander in battle or dealing with people who are being annoying. (Grantaire making a nuisance of himself, Marius coming to an overtly democratic gathering and ranting about Napoleon.) We have no idea what he's like just among friends--probably laconic but amiable enough.
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MmeJavert
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Postby MmeJavert » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:02 am

That's part of the problem. I mean you could make your case for just about anything, really, where Enjolras in a social setting is concerned. We meet Enjy at work, not Enjy at play. Not that he seems likely to do a lot of the latter either way. I don't know, I never found him unlikeable or anything like that: just very driven. There are plenty of truly unlikeable characters in literature (see Heathcliff.) and Enjolras just ... isn't.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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lesmisloony
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Postby lesmisloony » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:32 pm

Er... Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights? I like him.

But... I don't know. Clearly we're just extremely different in our tastes in characters...

After all, you're not a Montparnasse fan, right?

Verrry different.
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MmeJavert
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Postby MmeJavert » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:32 am

And that's the other thing. There is no rigid "likeable" and "unlikeable" because people are going to find different things likeable and unlikeable.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Col.Despard
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Postby Col.Despard » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:14 pm

A little bit of thread necromancy, as Enjolras and revolutionary ideas are what nagged me to the point I finally signed up to this forum to try and work through ideas (oh lookee - a fig leaf of respectability over blantant fangirling! :D )

One of the things I've been worrying away at - and judging from the fanfic on the subject I've read, I'm certainly not alone - is not just the logistics of how to even semi-plausibly get Enjolras beyond the barricade, but what sort of effect it would have on him.

Not in an angsty sense - Enjolras has a strong affinity for theatrical gestures of sacrifice, and while he might be disappointed at being denied his apotheosis at the barricades, I get the impression that he would mourn those friends who perished, admire their exulted position in the pantheon of heroes, would *not* blame himself, and would get his act together to move on to the next round. This is assuming he's not executed or imprisoned, which is another nest of possibilities opening up but not what I'm looking.

Idealogically, I don't see him shifting. But would he adapt his tactics? In some ways he's dedicated to the high drama of the death or glory tactic - he personifies Saint-Just's view that it was necessary to "Strike quick and strike hard. Dare - that is the secret of success in revolutions" (crash or crash through, as we put it). But the barricades have years' worth of planning and networking along hidden lines behind them to reach that point of striking at an opportunistic moment. Given his contacts in the network of revolutionaries, one gets the impression that he genuinely thinks they have a chance, and if not, then their deaths will help maintain the revolutionary ardour to progress to a definite goal.

In this, the 1832 barricades remind me of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. The tradition in Ireland was "a rising in every generation", and they intended to be the standard bearers for their generation. Unlike the barricades, though, they had little reasonable chance of success, particularly with the majority of Irish popular opinion against them (the irony is, they did succeed in turning that popular opinion, which began to run in their favour with the executions of the leaders).

Following the Easter Rising, an effective leadership emerged within the Irish Republican ranks, most notably by Michael Collins, who applied new methodology to the struggle. Instead of static battles from fortified positions - grand, heroic, doomed stands - he developed guerilla strategies both in urban and rural areas, such as ambushes where the perpetrators melted invisibly into the surrounding population after they struck. He ran the rebellion like a business, raising a national loan (issuing receipts!), keeping records, making sure it was comparatively sober (not a noteworthy feature of previous Irish revolts). Most importantly, he developed an intelligence network that was unparalleled. Whereas previous revolts had always been undermined by paid spies and informers, he organised his own counter network of spies. He kept his work compartmentalised - the left hand not knowing what the right was doing, and him in the centre of it - and learned about his enemy thoroughly. He won the shadow war, finally forcing Britain to the negotiating table and the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Could Enjolras have followed a similar course and different strategies? Here's where my French strategic knowledge of the period is weak. I know the barricades were particularly well adapted to use in narrow Parisian streets (and had had a measure of past success), but could he have pursued a strategy less reliant on static positions? Enjolras seems at his best fighting spectacularly in open battle, but I think there are hints that he could work the other side as well. The barricades are already a form of urban guerilla warfare (and citizens pelting objects from the windows at soldiers is a feature of both Dublin and Parisian revolts). He not only has a communications network, we see him testing the lines of communication and the soundness of his contacts. Could he even have a role in developing "flying columns" in rural areas? Inspirational speaker, yes (so was Collins), but there is a soldierly methodology as well - I can see him keeping very close tabs on his opponents and learning them inside out - where they ate, who they saw, who they knew. He could befriend warders, servants, dissafected public servants...like Collins, no one would be too small or too unimportant to have a potential role in his intelligence network.

Would he baulk at some of Collins' tactics, considering them unworthy? Collins killed judiciously - he abhorred waste and ordered deaths sparingly, but once he ordered a hit on a spy or military or government figure, his orders had to be obeyed. Given his handling of the gunner and Le Cabuc incidents, I think it could be argued that Enjolras has the necessary ruthlessness to selectively eliminate key targets. I suppose the counter-argument is that these incidents take place in the heat of battle, but given that we are told that on the floor of the Convention Enjolras would have been a Saint-Just, and Saint-Just did not baulk at using the Convention to eliminate real or perceived threats to the Republic with a death sentence, I think Enjolras would be willing to wage the war on those terms (not, I stress, that I think he would go to the extent of Saint-Just in wielding the guillotine to eliminate those opposed, as he saw it, to the interests of the people, but that contrast between the two is something I'd like to explore elsewhere).

So what I'm driving at is the potential plausibility of a post-barricades Enjolras who organises the revolution, firstly recruiting and reforming the secret society men into something more along the lines of an underground army (and, again, Hugo mentions a military hierarchy already in use in some seditious groups c.1830 - 32), continues the development of the cell structure already loosely in place but more formalised, establishes and tests yet more lines of communication and supplies, and works on developing his own espionage team and infiltrating the opposition (side note: how good were government records on rebel figures of the time? what was the equivalent - if any - of the secret service?). As anarchy descends in both city and country, he and his colleagues establish an alternative government and justice system to which people come to look to for even minor matters of legal redress, holding their own courts.

Republican propoganda on the grand scale still has its place in this scenario - lauding of heroic deaths through ballads, art etc, revolutionary press decrying the iniquities of the government. Solid policy making and reform alternatives do as well (again - Collins as a gifted writer and orator was instrumental in articulating the ideals of the Irish state and in drafting its first democratic constitution).

Possible obstacles include the fundamental difference that the Irish rebels were trying to overthrow an occupying power, while in France it was their own government. Britain, largely due to public opinion both internationally and in Britain itself, could never unleash its full military power, although it did deploy some "special" military units who became noted for their brutality. The French government would not be so constrained, save in public opinion at home and possibly in the United States. However, I also think that in some senses the underlying sympathy for republican ideals was even stronger and more widespread as part of the French cultural ethos.

Collins ultimately had to compromise on a Free State and partition rather than a Republic (although he regarded it as a stepping stone to a full Republic and not the end of the road), and that is a compromise I can't see Enjolras making - not as a largely archetypal figure and high priest of the ideal. Were he a flesh and blood character, I'm not so sure....Collins was one of the "Jacobins" of the early part of the rebellion, who galvanised the movement into radicalism and use of force, dragging more moderate men and the Sinn Fein party along with them. He was supposedly an uncompromising hard man. And yet, when it came down to it, he was willing to compromise to achieve the maximum freedom possible, while never losing sight of the Republic at the end of a longer road.

And I'm not sure anyone is going to read that all-over-the-map thinking out-loud contribution!


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