Let's talk about Éponine

Meta related to characters, plots, or other elements introduced by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables.
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silverwhistle
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby silverwhistle » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:33 pm

Rose In Misery wrote:To be honest, I don't think Montparnasse would be too bothered if the unlikely match of Éponine/Marius were to occur. This is the same guy who was all too willing to cut 'his girl's' throat in the attack on rue plumet. Not that he didn't have some feelings for her, I just doubt that he would have cared about her that much.

I don't know: that sounds to me very like the kind of situation that might make him want to cut her throat – or Marius's!
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

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Rose In Misery
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Rose In Misery » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:47 pm

silverwhistle wrote:
Rose In Misery wrote:To be honest, I don't think Montparnasse would be too bothered if the unlikely match of Éponine/Marius were to occur. This is the same guy who was all too willing to cut 'his girl's' throat in the attack on rue plumet. Not that he didn't have some feelings for her, I just doubt that he would have cared about her that much.

I don't know: that sounds to me very like the kind of situation that might make him want to cut her throat – or Marius's!


Really? Why do you think that?

My interpretation of Montparnasse is that he has some feelings for Éponine, though whether they are wholly romantic is debatable. He stops to "chat" with her at the Gorbeau house, something that has been interpreted many way but definitely shows that they are familiar with each other in the least. Hugo makes it clear that they have been physically initimate, yes, but neither of them actually refer to this. In their brief interaction at rue plumet, Montparnasse is at first nice to her and warns her about getting cut. However, as soon as she gets in the way of the robbery, he is immediately aggressive towards her. To me, this shows that he cares more about his pride than anything else.
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Beezer
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Beezer » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:03 pm

I agree, I don't think Montparnasse would care much. Éponine's not the only easy lay in Paris.

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby collectingbees » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:22 pm

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:06 pm

Ok, the relevant bits in French:

- Eh bien, entrez, vous autres, s'écria Montparnasse. Faites l'affaire. Je restrai là avec la fille, et si elle bronche . . .
Il fit reluire au réverbère le couteau qu'il tenait ouvert dans sa manche.


Everybody's quiet for a moment, then Brujon finally says, in essence, "hell with it, let's go".

Ils s'en allèrent.
Tout en s'en allant, Montparnasse murmura:
- C'est égal, si on avait voulu, j'aurais donné le coup de pouce.
Babet répondit:
-Moi pas. Je ne tape pas une dame.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby collectingbees » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:31 am

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TheOfficeIsClosed
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby TheOfficeIsClosed » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:17 pm

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:Case in point 2: Montparnasse somehow seems to be almost part of the Thenardier family in a weird way---something which I doubt the rest of Patron-Minette could ever do. And it is strongly suggested that Éponine could be part of the reason for this connection. For one thing, Gavroche is practically on joking terms with the boy, which does suggest that somehow Montparnasse is more than just a business acquaintance to the family. Thenardier does not seem to be overly surprised when Montparnasse fails to show up at the Gorbeau house ambush on Valjean. The explanation that Parnasse is having a chat with Éponine somehow seems to be acceptable enough to Thenardier. And Mme. Thenardier does not react aversely either to this fact. I forgot where it is, but I think Hugo also describes Montparnasse as being almost like Thenardier's son-in-law.


I don't currently have the energy, the ability to form thoughts and write them down properly, or even the battery life to properly contribute to this conversation, but I just had to comment on this one nitpicky detail...

Gavroche is on joking terms with everyone. :)
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby HotblackDesiato » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:17 pm

I haven't read all of the thread, but Cosette, while idealised, has some personality,—the musical oversimplifies her a decent bit. As a child, she lies to try to get out chores and she nicks Éponine's doll (I think? I haven't read the Brick for a while). As a young adult, she uses Valjean's protectiveness to corral him into actually looking after himself—when he insists on doing things like eating black bread, she amiably agrees and asks if it's all right if she does the same. He stops out of concern for her.
Just thought I'd stick that in somewhere.

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Chantefleurie » Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:15 am

Fascinating comments! I love all the analysis!

One "what if" fanon invention about Éponine especially annoys me: that if by some chance she was still alive after the barricade, she and Cosette would meet and Cosette would forgive her. I was outraged when I first saw this. Forgive Éponine for what, exactly? For loving Marius? For being so messed up that she gave him the push to join the revolt? Wanting to die and take him with her is certainly messed up, but if Éponine owes an apology to anyone, it's to Marius himself and not to Cosette. I personally believe that she does not owe anyone an apology. Given the above discussion of Ophelia parallels, Ophelia doesn't owe anyone an apology for going mad or for committing suicide. Éponine shouldn't have to apologize for her messed-up life. Just picturing the scene makes me think back to Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, where, as Wikipedia summarizes it, "Quasimodo comes to accept that Phoebus and Esmeralda are in love, and he gives them his blessing. The two encourage him to leave the cathedral into the outside world, where the citizens hail him as a hero and accept him into society." No, Disney, that's not how life works and that's not how people work. Are we supposed to like Quasimodo more because he accepts that Esmeralda is with Phoebus? And gives them their blessing? Forget about being accepted by society! I feel like the made-up Éponine apology scenario is just as bad.

Also, with the Eponine-Marius relationship in the book vs musical, the adaptation seems to make Marius a more complex character at the expense of Éponine's complexity. For one thing, Marius is actively involved in the uprising before and during his brief contact with Cosette, and is torn between his love to the girl and his loyalty to his friends and his cause. He comes to the barricade by himself, and Éponine follows him dressed as a man because she thinks that this is the only way he will ever notice her - if she would heroically distinguish herself at the uprising. She thinks he sees her only as a lower class citizen, not a woman (and barely a friend), so she tries to become that which he values most to get some form of his attention. This way, Marius gets the more complicated internal struggle, while Éponine's role is beautiful but simple. In the book, Marius lacks initiative, and just wants to die, and Éponine arranges for him to come to the barricade. She doesn't have any illusions about the success of the revolution, or she's too deep in her own despair to believe in any kind of future. She knows they are going to die. She welcomes this death, but before she goes, she tries to make Marius hers in the only way she can. The desperate-for-love theme is still present, but it's overlapped with the extent to which Éponine is messed up (emotionally, socially, due to internal flaws and external influences, etc. You guys went over this very thoroughly in this thread!). Here, Marius' character becomes as flappy as a paper towel, but Éponine is much more complex.

collectingbees wrote:For me, Éponine reminds me so much of Coyote and Brer Rabbit, in that you never really know what she's going to do next, that she walks that fine line between hero and villain. Instead of using her brute strength, which she has none of, she uses her wits-despite how she appears, everything is very clearly planned out and very deliberate. She bends morality as she sees fit,just like Coyote and Brer Rabbit. They might not always be on the side of the angels, but you're still rooting for them, and I think the same goes for Éponine.


That's a fine description. That's actually a very fine description. *applauds*


And yet another note on Éponine fanon: in many cases she chooses to allow herself to go through whatever humiliation and pain she has. It's true that her choice is between the devil and the deep blue sea, and she feels obligated to do many things out of circumstances, but it's not like she can't stand up for herself. She's tough, and she would have no qualms about it if she chose to do so. She's strong and clever: she had the whole gang at bay on Plumet street, unarmed and alone. She's independent - Thenardier can't live without an assistant, but she seems to get along quite fine. So making her the struggling victim of inflicted suffering is illogical, and cheapens her character. It takes Éponine, with her own strength and initiative, and makes her into a victim.

Rose In Misery wrote:
collectingbees wrote:Point: I think that Éponine has been dealt a huge disservice by the musical, and this disservice was deliberate.


She has definitely been done a disservice by the musical, as you so rightly said. The songs she gets to sing are lovely but I do feel like cringing at half the things she says e.g. "every word that he says is a dagger in me".


I agree that the musical has done her a disservice, and I cringe at the "little bit of rain" song, but I think that "every word that he says is a dagger in me" is actually a very decent line- and not entirely uncanonnical. Remember what happens when she says it - Marius looks at her, and finds joy in her presence - but only because she brought news of Cosette. I think that if Éponine was a bit more poetic, and if we would get a glance into her thought, she may very well have thought something akin to this line every time Marius would show signs of noticing her and then reveal that he only does so because of Cosette.


Anyways, fascinating thread, and fascinating character! Éponine is among my favourites. Now that I think of it, many of my favourites from various novels tend to be the villain-hero type of people, and I always insist that they are still "heroes" despite the, hmm, negative results of their actions. I think that what separates a villain from a misguided or messed up hero is the backstory and intention. Many people do not agree with me, saying that these characters had flaws that could have been fixed but weren't, and as a result the tragic hero faces downfall etc, and it's mainly their own fault. Sure, it's their fault, but at the same time I feel like you can't really blame them once you look at things from their perspective. I tend to be a tad overprotective about such characters just because they get a lot of dislike or scorn for (in my opinion) being normal humans with abnormally bad luck and lives.
C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes. ~Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Gervais » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:39 am

Forgive Éponine for what, exactly? For loving Marius? For being so messed up that she gave him the push to join the revolt?


It's been awhile since I've read the brick/been much into Les Mis-character analysis, but from what I remember everyone wanting Cosette to forgive Éponine didn't want necessarily (or only) for Éponine to apologize for what happened to Marius, but to apologize for helping to bully Cosette herself as a child. Mme and Msr Thernardier were ultimately responsible for the shitty abuse of Cosette's childhood and did set the bad example for their children, but from what I remember Éponine did her share of bullying and belittling, mostly in the form of refusing to share toys and chores (I believe; it's been a while). Even though she was following Madame's example, she was still a participant.
EDIT: And from what I remember on the meta/fandom side, people were less pushing for an apology from Éponine and more for forgiveness from Cosette. It had more to do with fandom wanting a better connection between adult and young Cosette than "punishing" Éponine, from what I understood.
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