Love this thread!
Aurelia Combeferre wrote:I agree with the second part of the theory (Enjolras is not madly in love with Grantaire).
As for the Grantaire as idolizing Enjolras....yes that is true. But it's idolization taken to an extreme that borders on obsession and self-abasement.
Yes, I think Grantaire's idolization of Enjolras is definitely more of an obsession - Just, in my opinion, not with the person Enjolras, more with the Idea Enjolras (i hope that made sense. If it didn't, tell me, and I'll try to clear it up)
Yes, I would agree with that. I think Grantaire loves Enjolras (NOT romantically) and pretty much worships him. And yes, I think that he loves Enjolras for the idea of Enjolras more so than the actual person. But I want to point out two things: 1. Enjolras put himself in such a way that he doesn't really have a "person" left. He transformed himself into an idea, a symbol. It's one of the many sacrifices he's made for what he believes in - he is at least as harsh in himself as he is on others. It's 100% dedication. He lives and breathes for his cause. It's not a part-time occupation for him, as it is for the other rebels. It is HIM. 2. There are very few - next to none - maybe but one in several centuries, as Hugo would melodramatically say - people who could match the greatness, selflessness, intensity, fire, and charisma of Enjolras. He's a kind of man that people would love and respect even against their will. In a person like Grantaire, these feelings turn to worship.
Marianne wrote:Actually--and this might in itself be an unpopular opinion--I think that not only is Grantaire drawn to Enjolras as a person rather than an idea, Hugo is trying to tell us this right-out. "How did Enjolras enthral him? By his ideas? No. By his character. [...] Without his being clearly aware of it or even thinking of explaining it to himself, this chaste, healthy, firm, upright, hard, straightforward nature charmed him. He admired, instinctively, his opposite." Grantaire isn't drawn to Enjolras as a Revolutionary Ideal, not quite--Grantaire makes a great deal of noise about not giving a fig for ideals of any sort, and whether or not he actually cares about them deep down (spoilers: he does), ideals aren't enough to sustain his interest and devotion. But the personal qualities that make Enjolras capable of being a Revolutionary Ideal, those fascinate Grantaire, because they're exactly the qualities he lacks.
I feel, though, that in becoming this person, Enjolras in a way embodies the IDEA. Graintaire was drawn by the idea of ultimate incorruptibility, not by the way Enjolras talks or dresses, or his hobbies, or his political views. I feel that this is precisely why Grantaire loves the idea - he would follow Enjolras regardless of what Enjolras actually did as a person. Grantaire worships the image of the leader, not the individual underneath (however little of that Enjolras allows to exist when/if it diverges from the leader persona).
Marianne wrote:(This cuts both ways. Grantaire, to whom affection and loyalty come naturally, has the heart that Enjolras lacks when we're first introduced to them. But Grantaire's good qualities tend to get short shrift, because part of Enjolras' problem at the outset is that he doesn't value love/devotion/interpersonal bonds at all; he hasn't made room for them in his orderly, absolute ideas.)
I think that's the main reason the Enjolras-Graitaire arch is so touching. Enjolras acquires some of Grantaire's affection, and Grantaire learns idealism. And both do it for, and mostly because of, each other.
Acaila wrote:(not that I really interpret him as lacking heart as much as a lot of fandom seem to, but still, I like the idea)
I don't hang around the internet fandom much, and I don't have any RL fan friends, so I didn't know that's the popular perception. I never saw it that way. In fact, I think Enjolras is the Ami with the most heart and the deepest sorrows, but because he knows this is what is required of him and he cannot give up, he shoves that heart somewhere deep down to do what he must do. He might not be as responsive to smaller needs of smaller individuals - that's certainly true. He lacks the friendliness of the other Amis (but then that's part of the price one must pay to become someone great***).
***I find that there's a curious theme running through Les Mis, about people's response to the problems of society. I'm not going to go into all the characters' responses, because there are many and not all are relevant. Jean Valjean and Myriel are two people who go about fixing the world one person at a time; they are the quiet backstage crew - and their work is possibly the purest of its kind, simply because they do not get fame or credit. People like Combeferre respond with pity; he and the rest of les Amis are people who you would feel would understand you, people who you can depend on, people who would do you a kindness and show you affection. They are people who you want to be friends with. And then there is Enjolras. He's a person who you would follow through water and fire, a person for whom you would give up your life, even if you do not fully agree with his ideals. You could never be his friend, because he would always be so much more than you. But you would live on his inspiration. Enjolras, on the flip side, is a solitary person. He is lonely, and he suffers from it, but such loneliness is required by his incorruptibility. He placed himself on a pedestal above the crowd, and he does not like it, but he goes through with it because he must. He knows it will be over - his uprightness and inspiration - as soon as he steps off to ground level. I don't think it brings him any joy; quite the contrary.
But perhaps I'm biased by my own "reader relationship" with Enjolras's character. I wanted to facepalm whenever he started going on about higher ideals - progress, revolution, better world, politics - and I didn't much like him other than through the eyes of other characters. But there was one short scene that changed my attitude 180 degrees: the scene where Enjolras shoots the artillery sergeant. I had a bit of a Grantaire moment; I realized then that he's a person whom I would follow to the barricade even though I disagree with almost everything he believes in. I would want to be a friend, but I also know that we could never be friends, but I would be satisfied if he would just acknowledge and tolerate me. He's a person who inspires by personal example, not by the specifics of his ideals. Maybe because of my Grantaire moment I'm projecting my thoughts about Enjolras onto his character, but I feel like that's part of what Hugo wanted to show, that everyone would be drawn to Enjolras in that way (heck, even the fire squad was humbled by his mere presence!).
Acaila wrote: (not that I really interpret him as lacking heart as much as a lot of fandom seem to, but still, I like the idea)
I've often thought that Enjolras doesn't lack
a heart, I just think he hid it.
Marianne wrote:The force of Enjolras' beliefs leads him towards love, and the force of Grantaire's love leads him towards belief.
Wow. Never thought of it that way, but... wow. Well said!
CeridwenLynne wrote:My opinion on the E/R relationship:
Enjolras does not love Grantaire at all. In the Brick he can barely tolerate him and in the musical/ movie he's no closer to him than he is to any of the other Amis.
Grantaire greatly admires and idolizes Enjolras but is not romantically in love wirh him. He loves him like a brother.
I realize that we are all going to have different opinions here and I respect that.
This is sorta how I look at it. My full opinion [which I have been slightly hesitant to post] is that Grantaire (while, yes, admires/idolizes etc. Enjolras) longs for Enjolras's friendship and/or acceptance, rather than being quote-en-quote "in love" with him.
Anyone else have an opinion sorta like this, or am I alone?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Grantaire is not "in love" with Enjolras, it's precisely as you say - he's longing for his friendship and acceptance. And Enjolras scoffs at Grantaire because of how infirm he is, because of how he lacks the spirit and dedication that Enjolrs has. I feel like Enjolras even borders on despising Grantaire for his spinelessness, but tries hard not to treat him with complete contempt. Enjolras does not believe in Grantaire (ha ha). But at the end, he grows more Combeferrian in several aspects, and he finally accepts Grantaire's affection and devotion to him
(as opposed to an ideal). He accepts that there is idealism beyond the political variety.
Marianne wrote:I'm not sure Grantaire is consciously aware of wanting anything from Enjolras at all; he admires him, and feels like he "becomes someone once more" when he's around him, but he seems mostly content to just let Enjolras... be Enjolras. Except, yeah, deep down he does want Enjolras' acceptance, and more than that, his trust and respect. Or rather, he wants to be someone Enjolras could respect.
I'm not sure if he wants to be someone Enjolras could respect, or if he just wants his respect/acknowledgement/appreciation. I feel like he's pushing himself to become someone Enjolras could respect BECAUSE he wants Enjolras's appreciation. But at the same time, he admires Enjolras in the first place because that's the kind of person he wishes to be, and his cynicism and spinelessness is in a way a form of denial. He won't admit to himself that he aspires to bother with such an unrealistic thing as idealism. It's a chicken-or-egg question.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry