Marianne wrote:Am I the only one who doesn't see it? Yes, he exhibits a lot of the traits, but to me it seems incidental and coming from a different source--it's not that he doesn't understand social situations, he's reserved because he's always thinking about other things. To me he seems like the guy who sits in the corner, says nothing, doesn't appear to be listening, and knows exactly what's going on.
Put it another way, Asperger's is a subset of "extremely focused and socially aloof," and while the latter definitely fits Enjolras, I'm not sure he's in that particular subset. All the Aspies I've known tend to come off as obnoxious to NTs who think they don't know when to stop talking because they don't take non-verbal/non-explicit hints very well. Most people who aren't assholes revise their opinions once they realize direct communication is necessary, but that's the thing--Enjolras seems fine with indirect communication.
This, actually. I was getting kind of squirmy at the thought of trying to shoehorn what characterisation we get for Enjolras into modern psychiatric diagnoses.
People who are not loud, not outgoing, and focused on a specific goal/ideal do not necessarily have traits of autism or Asperger's. I mean, I get where you guys are coming from with the traits, but I just don't see it myself.
Enjolras is idealistic, he is intelligent, he is not a social butterfly, he does not date. Because he is so focused on his ideal, achieving a utopian republic, he simply does not do other things. Hugo says he dropped his eyes before all else, including gambling, drinking, seducing women, frivolous things. He didn't care for them; this does NOT mean he wasn't capable of them. The problem with 'diagnosing' Enjolras is that Hugo meant him more to be a sort of metaphor for The Ideal of the Republic/The Revolution personified, not as a real person, so traits we are seeing in Enjolras are possibly exaggerated more than for any real person. Courfeyrac and Combeferre are more realistic sketches of a person than is Enjolras. A real-life Enjolras might not be *as* driven, focused, single-minded, and completely abstemious, as the one Hugo shows us.
That, and ... okay, I'm not trying to say this to disregard anyone's opinions, or blow them off, but ... autism, Asperger's, AD(H)D, and other mental disorders are, while not "new" disorders, things that just didn't "exist" in the 19th century. Whether ANYONE in that era suffered from such disorders is certainly possible, but the thing is modern psychiatric diagnoses are extremely recent. Historical novels, especially those written by people who lived in the time periods the books were set, kind of seem to me an odd place to try to diagnose characters. You won't have the background information you need, and the authors will describe the characters being completely ignorant that someone 150 years down the road might see them as having some sort of mental/psychiatric disorder or condition. Y'know?
Someone exhibiting Enjolraic traits *today* could well be pegged as possibly having said traits, but they could also be mentally functioning perfectly. I know a number of folks in high school who were Very Quiet and only came out to talk if the conversation/class discussion circled around to something they really cared about (one in particular, Elizabeth, who was so quiet and painfully shy--except when doing musicals, because she was in her element on stage.) -- and none of them, to me, seemed Aspie or having autism or anything like that. Therefore I see Enjolras in the same light as I saw Elizabeth and others I knew.
I have known autistic children, too, so I'm honestly not making stuff up about autistic people I've never come in contact with -- my step-mom used to run a daycare out of her house, and she loves little kids, ESPECIALLY little kids with special needs or developmental disorders or the like, and she had one very sweet 6-year-old autistic boy. Before my stepmom shut down the daycare and I never saw him again (he was 3-4 when I met him, and 6 the last tiime I saw him), I very gradually got to know him. He didn't talk, he only looked at you if he knew who you were, he still wore diapers, but he was the most adorable boy. The only way he resembled Enjolras was his GORGEOUS white-blond hair and blue eyes and charming little smile. That boy will have girls running after him when he's older, god help him. (And please understand, I'm not saying this the same way as people saying, "lol I'm not racist because I have black friends", just to say what I've seen of autism. I've been acquainted with other people with autism/Asperger's, but this little boy was the closEST acquaintance I have and therefore the best anecdote I can give. Maybe there are autistic people who would be exactly like Enjolras; all I know is that it Enjolras' character is not 'typically' autistic.)
I have held off saying anything for a little while because I wanted to sit down and think about it. I really hope I don't come across wrong; I still have difficulty explaining myself when it comes to these sorts of developmental/social disorders and feel like I'm coming across as ableist or condescending or something. :/