Meta: Writing Éponine

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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meow139
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Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby meow139 » Wed May 08, 2013 2:36 am

I've been trying to write Éponine recently. Typically I stick with Barricade Boys, but I decided to try having Éponine make a cameo.

My problem is, I'm not quite sure how I can keep her in character. It's sort of hard for me to capture the crazy that is Éponine, and I'm not sure how she would realistically react to my characters and their dialouge towards her.

Does anyone have any pointers? How do you guys write your 'Ponine?
I change barricade boyfriends by the day.

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Marianne
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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Marianne » Wed May 08, 2013 3:38 am

Ahaha this may be too much of a meta-dump for a cameo BUT

I think the thing to realize about Éponine is that she's not crazy. She's a bit disjointed, sure, and there are times when even she doesn't realize her own motivations, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have them. book!Éponine... what some people don't pick up on is that she's perfectly aware of her own physical, moral, and social degradation, and post-Marius she's intensely ashamed of it. It's a matter-of-fact kind of shame, but it's still there: it's what drives her to stop speaking argot, it's what makes her so eager to prove to Marius that she can read and write, that she wasn't always meant to be what she is now. It's what's behind her offer to walk at a distance from him, so he won't have to be seen with "a woman like her." Seeing Marius, who hasn't been corrupted by his poverty, gives her the will to reject the whole life her parents have dragged her into even as it makes her extra-conscious of how much she's been corrupted. All of which leads into her confrontation with Thénardier and Patron-Minette at the garden gate, where she openly defies him--and where her lack of self-worth is what makes her fearless, because she really doesn't care if they kill her. (And again, when Mabeuf calls her an angel for watering his plants--her response is "no, I'm the devil, but it doesn't really matter.")

So ultimately she is almost a Valjean character: she's deliberately shifted her alignment from chaotic evil to chaotic good, but without gaining any sense of redemption or conception of herself as a good person. In my head I suppose she thinks of herself as a devil working on the side of angels as best she can, and she's not afraid to use the means and methods from her criminal upbringing towards her own ends, since unlike the people she's appointed herself to protect, she can't be tarnished any further by that association. And, of course, she's not above selfish actions, but I think she conceives of the whole "die with Marius on the barricades" plan as a romantic and not a criminal gesture, and doesn't realize how fucked-up and wrong it is until she's in the middle of it.

UMMMM not that any of this will help with writing her dialogue and mannerisms. But it might help with her motivations and how she would realistically react to things? And I mean, when I say shame, she's definitely not a shrinking violet about it--she's been around the block a few times and she's totally brazen, but she knows how screwed-up that is and what a sad and ghoulish figure she cuts to an observer. And it might help pin down her dialogue to go back and read some of her scenes in the novel from that perspective.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Rachel » Wed May 08, 2013 3:46 am

Her mannerisms change based on who's she's with.

With Marius she was talking up a storm because she was desperate to impress him. It's like when you don't really have anything to say, so it's awkwardly silent. She was going for the opposite of that, the whole saying anything so there wouldn't be silence. Plus, I imagine she saw him as her guardian angel of sorts, and she spent all of this time building him up in her head that when she actually saw him she just couldn't stop telling him things. He was supposed to raise her out of her poverty, remember. So, yeah, Marius, talking a lot, desperate, throwing herself at him, but ashamed to be with him in public at the same time.

With other people she'd probably more careful. She's from the streets, she's snogged Montparnasse and she knows he's a killer, she knows that looks can be deceiving. So, she'd probably be quieter and wouldn't reveal as much about herself.

This was a messy whirlwind of thoughts, and I hope they still made some sense.
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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Wed May 08, 2013 5:48 am

Éponine's not totally insane, no. She did, however, come across to me as I was reading as kind of 'spaced out', for lack of a better term, possibly as a way to retreat from her terrible life. This is also why I picture her as having an airy sort of voice, like a slightly-creepier Evanna Lynch, even though this contradicts Hugo's description of it as "rough."
"Oh my God! I'll never have time to strike a pose!"

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby IBelieveInYou » Wed May 08, 2013 7:53 am

Oh thank goodness for that meta, I really needed it. For me, Éponine is the hardest character to write, maybe because I'm so scared after everyrhing i've read. I agree with everything you have already said and especially with the fact that she wasn't exactly aware of the severity of her actions, and probably thought of a barricade death being appropriate and romantic (maybe growing up with Mme Thernadier and her romance novel would help?)
Anyway, i feel like i do understand Éponine, but what's particularly hard for me is to write her at modern AUs. Somehow i don't feel she would exactly be the badass with the piercings who wouldn't stop swear and scare people away, it just doesn't click to me, for me Éponine has more of something misguided, raw and childish inside her, in some way she's failed to probably grow up, yet had to do so quite quickly and prematurely. I dont know if i make any sense. Maybe i'm just affected by her rambling habits in the Brick, but that's my headcanon and i would definitely need some help with fixing it.
Then I saw their trembling features warp and, gradually,
Their foreheads turn pale and dissolve in front of me,
And everyone, like a stream that flows into a sea,
Became completely lost in a dark immensity.

Victor Hugo, The Slope of Reverie

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed May 08, 2013 11:27 am

I see it that way too Liv. She wouldn't be a punk, but perhaps a kid running in with the wrong gang from time to time. Or she'd be the kid trying to get somewhere, but can't shake entirely her being from the wrong side of the tracks.

Admittedly my take on Éponine is always influenced by the kids I mentor who have survived varying shades of similar situations.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby IBelieveInYou » Wed May 08, 2013 12:31 pm

Such experiences must really have helped you write Éponine, Relly. I must really catch up with your fic in June, it will definitely help me.
Then I saw their trembling features warp and, gradually,
Their foreheads turn pale and dissolve in front of me,
And everyone, like a stream that flows into a sea,
Became completely lost in a dark immensity.

Victor Hugo, The Slope of Reverie

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed May 08, 2013 3:32 pm

It's a strength and a liability actually. I have a lot of sociocultural things I have to set aside when I write about Éponine. I try to draw more on the experience of being seventeen years old, desperate, with few or no adults for guidance, and looking for ANY option to better one's lot.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby CeridwenLynne » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:05 pm

My Éponine is a tough cookie. She's not insane but does some issues with trust and insecurity as her family really doesn't care about her. That's why she as attached herself to Marius so much----he's the only one who has really shown her kindness in a long time. She is not a weepy damsel in distress the way a lot of fan fictions seem to portray her as. I think it's okay if you want to write a story where her father beats her but I don't care for the weak damsel scenario. We are talking about a gal who has been fending for herself for a number of years. I don't think she would need to run to Marius etc. each time she found herself in a sticky situation. I'm sure she could have handled it herself if someone undesirable put his hands on her. The girl did have street smarts and I'm sure she wouldn't have gone running to Marius each time she got into a scrape.
" He makes no vain sacrifice who fights for a cause. All here are ready to die so that our brothers may live as free men. Liberty... sweet liberty... come fight with those who defend you." ----Enjolras.

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Re: Meta: Writing Éponine

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:25 am

At present I'm pretty much in the 'terra incognita' zone when it comes to writing Éponine: massive AU scenario for one thing, not spoiling the rest.

The thing that stands out for me is that she is really just a kid trying to make her way through horrid circumstances. She's apt to have poor impulse control, to be ego centric, and fanciful...the way teenage girls can be at times. I don't know if she'd ever grow out of it if given the chance, but that's a nice thought.

I think that regardless of the circumstances she'll always be intrepid, have a bent for audacity that allows her to go 'no holds barred' in facing danger, and will always value certain relationships such as her being Azelma's sister. And yes, definitely street smart, and may appreciate the importance of being book smart or at least literate. I also write her as having varying coping skills ranging from going head on, to occasionally retreating into memory or story. She's not a daydreamer; she just has to make sense of things from her perspective. And I think that she's not so much a tomboy, but just too hard up and maybe too practical to worry (at length) about frippery. But given the chance to, she'd like a little glamor too.

I also can't ever imagine her as subservient, at least in the way a girl or a woman was expected to be to the men in her life. She stands up to her father, and basically has no qualms about intruding on Marius, Mabeuf, or maybe even Montparnasse. I find this important since it shows she's not an easily intimidated character.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."


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