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 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:16 pm

Ulkis wrote:
Yes! She and Gavroche (we don't get to know the other children so well, even Azélma) have turned out remarkably well, despite their parents


Probably helped Gavroche that he was kicked out early!

Indeed! One wonders what will become of his little brothers…
- Entends-tu? je t'aime! cria-t-il encore.
- Quel amour! dit la malheureuse en frémissant.
Il reprit: - L'amour d'un damné.

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby collectingbees » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:15 pm

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby silverwhistle » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:20 pm

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

I agree.
Mind, at least she's in it, unlike some of the English-language films!
- 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 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:06 pm

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 hate the way they've taken such a fascinating character and made her the epitome of teenage angst. It annoys me a lot that so many people claim to identify with her when what I find so brilliant about her is that I can't identify with her or her situation at all. I don't, however, think that it was deliberate. What I imagine happened was that when the production team behind Les Mis were planning it, they had a conversation that went something like this...

Person 1: You know, the Thenardiers in the book are really a bit to evil for our audiences. We don't want them to seem to cruel and sadistic. I say we make them into panto type clowns and then everybody will like them. Well, those who aren't scared of clowns anyway.
Person 2: That's a good idea. If the musical's too dark no one will want to see it. First rule of musical marketing.
Person 1: Exactly. On that note, how about we have Marius and Valjean getting on like a house fire. Lets have Valjean see him like a son, if God had granted him one hehe.
Person 2: That's good, I never liked their relationship in the book. I only skimmed through it, mind you. Those good lines by the way. I may have to use them.
Person 1:Why thank you. You know, I never liked Marius's relationship with the Thenardier girl. She was in love with him y'know.
Person 2: SHE WAS! I thought she was just a creepy plot device. Now we have a whole love triangle to exploit.
Person 1: I hadn't thought of that. I just thought she was symbolic or something.
Person 2: She is! She is the symbol of unrequited love and will be forevermore. You say her relationship with Marius isn't too good. How about we make them best friends. She can be like the girl next door. Everybody loves that trope.

And thus Musical!Éponine was created.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:18 pm

Aw, be nice to B&S. They're actually huge fans of the Brick, and were very careful about being true to it. The musical needed SOME comic relief, and the only place to put it is with the Thenardiers. To their credit, despite Master of the House, you can't forget how evil they are after Dog Eat Dog.

There just wasn't time to develop Éponine fully. She was a casualty of the adaptation. Also, B&S are big fans of the standard musical theater plot, so of COURSE they'd use a love triangle if they could find it. What's sad is that the musical is more true to the book than almost any English-language movie adaptation. Éponine is either cut out of most of the movies, or....turned into Marius' secretary? (seriously, what was that?) and still the musical doesn't do her justice. Though in the hands of a good actress, book!Éponine can still come through.

And you know that Valjean's original 'barricade' song was codenamed 'night thoughts' and was about Valjean's jealousy and hatred for Marius. I don't think they ever wrote it, because in came Claude-Michel with the melody for Bring Him Home, and no one knew what to do with it, until someone said 'sounds like a prayer to me.' So instead of Hugo's very human Valjean, we got Valjean being self-sacrificing once more. It's not the Brick, but i always thought that was exactly what Valjean would do.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Rose In Misery » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:26 pm

I know. I was just being a bit silly. It's very late over here and I have a tendency to go a bit mad at night and write strange conversations between imaginary people when I have nothing better to do. And it wasn't directed at all at B&S. I know for a fact that they are fans of the book and wanted to stay as true to it as possible. Person 1 and person 2 are strange incarnations of marketing consultants who are just trying to make the musical sell. And I have always liked the Thenardiers being used as comic relief although I do have some beef with some of the BHH lyrics. I was just trying to illustrate how I imagine Brick!Éponine morphed into Musical!Éponine. It probably didn't happen like that at all.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby collectingbees » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:32 pm

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Hannah » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:36 pm

IDK I identify with the fuck outta book Éponine - not because of my experiences, per se, but because of her mental space, if that makes sense. I mean, the portrayal of "Ophelia" type characters in most works of fiction are far from perfect, but it's always kind of .. comforting? To see Troubled Girls be at least included, at times. If that makes sense.

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:52 am

When I was 17, I did identify a lot with Eponine-- and not just because of some of her strange thought processes. Let's just say that having slightly upsetting family dynamics can do *interesting* things to one's life, even if for a short period of time.

I think I am so thankful that Hugo at least managed to show a well-rounded, slightly scrappy and chaotic female character. Somehow Éponine seems to have a certain edge that Fantine and Cosette lack. What Fantine and Cosette have in resilience, Éponine has in street-smarts.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Beezer » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:02 pm

Aurelia Combeferre wrote:When I was 17, I did identify a lot with Éponine-- and not just because of some of her strange thought processes. Let's just say that having slightly upsetting family dynamics can do *interesting* things to one's life, even if for a short period of time.

I think I am so thankful that Hugo at least managed to show a well-rounded, slightly scrappy and chaotic female character. Somehow Éponine seems to have a certain edge that Fantine and Cosette lack. What Fantine and Cosette have in resilience, Éponine has in street-smarts.


I think it's totally possible to identify with aspects of Brick!Éponine. I know I did, though I was never outright homeless or criminal. Thanks to some "upsetting family dynamics" (to borrow the phrase), my living situation went from enviable to not-so-much right around HS. Parents divorced, jerky dad absent, went from comfortable middle class/nice house to financially struggling/disappointing apartment, all of which resulted in acting out in various unhealthy ways. It wasn't at all on par with Éponine's life or death type of misery, but it was a lot of upheaval to process at age 15 and it did cause her actual, non-romanticized story to resonate more than it might have otherwise.

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Rose In Misery » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:26 pm

I've just being looking over my last post and feel the need to rephrase what I last said because I totally didn't say what I meant. What I mean't to say was that I have nothing against people identifying with Brick!Éponine. My problem is when people say that they identify with Éponine just because of the unrequited love aspect of her character and nothing more. Admittedly, if they've only ever seen the musical, I can't really blame them. Just watching the TAC, the rational part of me thinks Éponine should end up with Marius instead of Cosette. I mean Lea Salonga is incredibly beautiful and has great chemistry with Michael Ball. Poor Judy gets very little stage time and her wig really doesn't do her any favours. Éponine is always portrayed by an beautiful actress with a beautiful mezzo belt voice (which a lot of people prefer to an operatic soprano), and given a lot more sympathy and personality than Cosette, whose role is really underdeveloped. My problem is that the whole unrequited love facet of her personality, while being the driving force behind most of her actions, is actually quite a minor aspect of her. I have nothing against people identifying with other aspects of her but liking her just because she likes a guy who doesn't like her back doesn't do her character enough credit. I find her fascinating enough without that and I only wish others could too.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Ulkis » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:11 am

Just watching the TAC, the rational part of me thinks Éponine should end up with Marius instead of Cosette.


I know a lot of people who don't though, not because they think Éponine sucks, but because emotionally you want Éponine to get what she longs for but at the same time you realize it was make her story less touching retrospetively if she and Marius ended up together (I'm talking strictly musical here).

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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:32 am

Ulkis wrote:Just watching the TAC, the rational part of me thinks Éponine should end up with Marius instead of Cosette.


That's true. As i was a musical fan before i read the Brick, i was like ' hello, Marius, she's your friend, you like her! you literally bumped into Cosette on the street and know her a DAY.' Really, Marius/Éponine makes a lot of sense in musical-world. In book world, Éponine's been stalking him, and he barely even knows she exists, so Marius/Éponine makes NO sense. Not that Marius/Cosette makes much more sense, but who can make sense of love? So, we can't blame the Eppie-boppers, since most of them have never read the book. Once you read the book, you calm down and become an Éponine fan.
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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby silverwhistle » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:37 pm

Ulkis wrote:
Just watching the TAC, the rational part of me thinks Éponine should end up with Marius instead of Cosette.


I know a lot of people who don't though, not because they think Éponine sucks, but because emotionally you want Éponine to get what she longs for but at the same time you realize it was make her story less touching retrospetively if she and Marius ended up together (I'm talking strictly musical here).

It would also be very difficult to see a match there working socially. Some of the glamorous courtesans who ended up marrying titles in 19C came from backgrounds not unlike Éponine's, but they were unusual and also they worked hard at making themselves socially presentable (speech, culture, manners). (A Pygmalion Éponine would be funny, though!)

Also: there's Montparnasse. How would he take some posh student taking off with 'his' girl? He's good with a knife.

(I do think, too, that some of Éponine's ups-and-downs are because she's in the wretched situation of being in a physical relationship with a boy of whom she's clearly fond, while at the same time hankering after another boy she must know is out of her league.)
- 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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Re: Let's talk about Éponine

Postby Rose In Misery » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:58 pm

silverwhistle wrote:
Ulkis wrote:
Just watching the TAC, the rational part of me thinks Éponine should end up with Marius instead of Cosette.


I know a lot of people who don't though, not because they think Éponine sucks, but because emotionally you want Éponine to get what she longs for but at the same time you realize it was make her story less touching retrospetively if she and Marius ended up together (I'm talking strictly musical here).

It would also be very difficult to see a match there working socially. Some of the glamorous courtesans who ended up marrying titles in 19C came from backgrounds not unlike Éponine's, but they were unusual and also they worked hard at making themselves socially presentable (speech, culture, manners). (A Pygmalion Éponine would be funny, though!)

Also: there's Montparnasse. How would he take some posh student taking off with 'his' girl? He's good with a knife.

(I do think, too, that some of Éponine's ups-and-downs are because she's in the wretched situation of being in a physical relationship with a boy of whom she's clearly fond, while at the same time hankering after another boy she must know is out of her league.)


I read the Brick first, so I always found the idea of Marius/Éponine ridiculous. I mean, the poor guy's practically terrified of her. Not to mention that he is madly in love with Cosette. And I imagine the idea of a Baron marrying a woman like Éponine would have been very unusual as you said.

A pygmalion Éponine would be funny, it's true. I find it interesting that in fanfiction she is almost always given a strong cockney dialect. Given that she comes from Monfermeil, I would imagine that her accent would slightly more...erm...countrysidey? Though I suppose her accent might change when she moves to Paris.

To be honest, I don't think Montparnasse would be too bothered if the unlikey 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.
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