Enjolras as a Christ Figure

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Mlle Patria
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Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Mlle Patria » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:33 am

Going to a Jesuit university, I am required to take a few theology courses, so I'm currently in a christology class. For our final papers we were required to write about a character from a movie or book and how he or she is an archetypal christ figure and compare him or her to portraits of Jesus in the New Testament. Naturally, I chose Les Mis as my book, but instead of writing about Valjean or Bishop Myriel, I decided to challenge myself a bit and wrote about Enjolras. As I started working on the paper I was suprised at how strong of a christ figure he is. I had never really thought about it before, but the similarities between Enjolras and the life of Christ as portrayed in the New Testament are really astounding. As it's a ten page paper, I thought I'd summarize some of my points below.
-They are both portrayed as very pure.
-Both are seen as dispensers of justice (Enjolras is described as similar to Themis during La Cubac's execution)
-Both preach about kingdoms to come (Jesus about heaven and Enjolras about the future)
-Both are martyred
-Both forgive others shortly before their deaths (Jesus forgives a thief being crucified next to him and Enjolras allows Grantaire to die with him)
-Enjolras's speech on the barricade draws parallels to the sermon on the mount. Enjolras talks about how people will be happy in the future and in the beatitudes Jesus talks about how people will be happy in heaven.
-In his letters, Paul says that in order to know Jesus one must know him crucified and that his death is what holds meaning. He compares it to a sacrifice to atone for the sins of humanity and allow people entrance into heaven. Similarly, Enjolras's death is a sacrifice necessary to bring about the future he envisioned. As a martyr he knows that his death will inspire others to fight for liberty and equality. (Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!)
-Even though Enjolras is not resurrected, he is pierced by eight bullets during his execution. Eight, is a number often associated with baptism, ressurection and the beginning of a new life. Whether Hugo really meant it to or not, this can be seen as symbolizing that although Enjolras died his ideals live on.
-In Luke Jesus's love for the marginalized is emphasized. Similarly, Enjolras is fighting for marginalized figures, though he himself lives a pretty comfy life.
So, what do you guys think? Do you see Enjolras as a christ-figure? Do you see any similarities that I've failed to mention? Are there traits that Enjolras has that would disqualify him from being considered a christ-figure?
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby EnjysVest » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:22 am

This is a really interesting idea! I guess a lot of authors, both purposefully and inadvertently, model characters on Christ (e.g. Simon in Lord of the Flies).
The Amis are sort of like Enjolras' apostles. Also, his post le Cabuc speech is similar to the last supper discourse.

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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Acaila » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:54 am

Definitely seen some comparisons in the text when reading it in the past, in the descriptions and characterisation. But the sacrifice is a big part of it too that I hadn't really thought about in that context before.
The Christ narrative is considered an example of the monomyth, so it's not surprising that tropes sneak in elsewhere. :) (handy plug for the monomyth thread I suppose :D)
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Gervais » Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:56 pm

Acaila wrote:The Christ narrative is considered an example of the monomyth, so it's not surprising that tropes sneak in elsewhere. :) (handy plug for the monomyth thread I suppose :D)

Nice. :wink:

I think Enjolras follows the Christ-figure narrative, definitely, but...there are some places that it's more of a contrast. Christ has always been taught in my church as being a figure of kindness and peace, and although Enjolras is kind to his friends, I think a good contrast between him and Christ is that Enjolras accepts fighting, accepts war, more readily than the Christ that I've been taught about would. Part of that is interpretation of both of them, though, and from what I know that wouldn't disqualify Enjolras from being a Christ figure. Plus there's still the whole Jesus conquering death and the devil thing, which could kind of be similar to Enjolras fighting the monarchy, except that Christ fights literal evil and Enjolras fights against flesh and blood people and I'm not sure where I was going with that.

(I would actually love to read your paper sometime, so long as you would be fine with sharing. :D You don't have to if you don't want to, though. )
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Acaila » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:51 pm

Seconded, it would be really cool if you wouldn't mind posting it, or at least some extracts :)
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Mlle Patria » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:56 pm

Of course I'd be willing to post it. I'm actually quite thrilled that you guys want to read it. It is quite long, so I'm not going to post it in the thread, but I did put it on my seldom used livejournal, so here's the link: http://mlle-patria.livejournal.com/3805.html.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Gervais » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:36 am

Thank you for sharing! :D

Actually, now that I've read your paragraph about Enjolras being a guide but not a shepherd, I'm wondering if one of the ways Combeferre "completes" him is by being the shepherd himself. Combeferre is described as the "guide" at one point, after all. They could represent different parts of a Christ figure, with Enjolras being the priest/messenger and everything else you've said, and Combeferre being the shepherd and the healer. I guess Courfeyrac would be passion.

...I feel like I just wrote down basic stuff about the trio that most people realized the first time they read the brick. Oh well.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Mlle Patria » Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:20 pm

Gervais, I actually did have a thought sort of similar that I wanted to include in the paper, but unfortunately it would have put me over the page limit. I sort of thought of the three of them as the trinity in a way. Mind you, I didn't really spend much time on it, since I didn't include it. However, I could see Enjolras as being the father in a way. He is described as sort of lofty and divine. Combeferre , on the other hand, is a guide, so in that way he could be seen as the son, as Jesus is described in the new testament (Luke especially) as a shepherd. Combferre guides people toward progress. Courfeyrac, could be considered the spirit, as he really is the spirit of the people.

Okay, I feel like I really just reworded what you said and gave them slightly different labels. Oh well. There are my half-formed thoughts, I suppose!
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Gervais » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:11 pm

(BTW, I put a link to this in the Monomyth Thread mentioned earlier because there was an old, only semi-answered question about Enjolras that this answered).

Rewording them works, though, because that basically cleans up the thought that I had started. :D I feel like there's more to Courfeyrac than plain spirit and passion, even if those are pretty good things. Love, maybe, though Love and Passion can be similar things in some sense. He's charitable, too; he's a lot like a good Samaritan at least when it comes to Pontmercy, and probably with others. So yeah, Spirit.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby freedomlover » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:51 pm

I can't really stick around but I have to say this is a very interesting thread, the thought did pop into my mind temporarily.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:52 pm

Huh, that's really interesting; I like this idea, especially because Hugo does mention Enjolras' speech as having "the thrill of a hymn," and being "an officiating priest and a man of war" holds perfectly true, and is often a defining characteristic of, Christ or a Christ-figure. (And also because Monomyth; thanks Gervais and Acaila. :wink: ) I don't remember all of them, but I feel as if there were a lot more references, too, to things like revolution being an act of worship and all that. Also, you can say he's bringing about a new earth. He does stay dead, though.

What you said about contrast, too, Gervais, I think that really works, because it's almost like Hugo might be trying to change those ideas, you know? Like with the Bishop not necessarily representing the condition of the church, but the way it should be run. Not that I'm saying it really should work that way, of course, but it's a possibility, at least.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Acaila » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:22 am

It really would be fun to go grab all the Christian/Christ/religious references and make a little study of them, though there's also the interesting part about all the classical allusions too and how those might interplay with each other. Man, this really would be a fun topic for an essay, I can see why Mlle Patria picked it.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Gervais » Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:51 pm

Acaila wrote:It really would be fun to go grab all the Christian/Christ/religious references and make a little study of them, though there's also the interesting part about all the classical allusions too and how those might interplay with each other. Man, this really would be a fun topic for an essay, I can see why Mlle Patria picked it.

Oh man, yeeeees. :D

YoungStudentMarius wrote: Like with the Bishop not necessarily representing the condition of the church, but the way it should be run.

Yeah, that's it. And I not know about France for sure, but America around this time has a lot of humanitarian movements going on, most of which are associated with churches, so I would think France would have some of that, and that could some influence on what Hugo's writing. Maybe. I haven't gone through the research forum that well in awhile, so something on it might be right in front of me.
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby LauraLeZunzu » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:46 pm

Interesting thread :D
Yeah I thought that about Enjolras too, as Valjean as a Martyr.
God is all along the novel, actually, like helping (the good meetings, the redemptions of Valjean...). And as it is the work of his life, I think you can see how he brings up all the huge amount of culture he has on his back (greek mythology, religions, literature...). I think to understand this the best way possible we should read all the culture Hugo read - not easy at all :cry:
And maybe he's a Jesus "adapted" to times of needed war...
So yeah it would take an essay haha :D
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Re: Enjolras as a Christ Figure

Postby Mlle Patria » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:02 pm

I definitely wanted to include a lot of the references that you guys mentioned, especially Enjolras being "an officiating priest" and his voice having "the thrill of a hymn." Unfortunately, I had a page limit, and I could have easily filled that with a summary of Enjolras's appearances in the book. :lol: I do think, however, that those statements of Hugo's are what first made me consider Enjolras as a christ-figure. Once I started really thinking about it I realized how much the archtype fit and ended up with a page full of notes on it.
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