Enjolras and angsty self doubt

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IBelieveInYou
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Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby IBelieveInYou » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:12 pm

First of all I apologize if there already is such a post, I am new to this forum and I don't know whether this was the best place to post my question.
A few days ago I fell upon this hilarious piece of fanart which many of you might have already stumbled upon.
http://coloneldespard.deviantart.com/ar ... -167949420
I laughed so hard and I loved the idea behind it, however I would really like to discuss the limits of Enjolras and his 'angsty self doubt' with you.
I agree that Enjolras is not a common character, he is a man who doesn't love, doesn't fear, lives for his principles and for his ideals, literally breathes for his cause, and is not exactly the man who would be filled with guilt and self angst for the possible death of himself/his friends/leading them to a cause they don't believe in/killing soldiers etc. However, I wanted to share my opinion with you and ask for yours, concering the limits and the little gaps that I believe are left to alter things a little bit.
First of all, as much as the idea of Enjolras worrying his guts out before the barricades fall makes me laugh (Enjolras is clearly NOT suicidal of course, he is friendlier to the idea of death than many other people, especially should he fall for freedom and democracy, don't forget that he actually believes that they stand a chance and that the people of Paris will come to their side, he's not on a suicide mission), I still find the idea of guilt fascinating in certain fics I have read that take place after his death... how can that be? I am talking about reincarnation fics, survival fics and 'afterlife' fics. Guilt and angst only seems normal to me, even for Enjolras, in that kind of fics. What is your opinion?
There is also a second question I wanted to ask. Before I saw that picture, I was about to cross a thin line and I would like to hope I didn't, though deep inside I feel I have miserably failed and written Enjolras out of character. In my fic he was feverish and delirious, and I wanted to write him having nightmares (I know, cliche much) especially about people of Paris not coming to their side (Which actually did happen) and his friends dying, but in the sense that "I had assured them we wouldn't be alone and I somehow deceived them", not in the sense of "They died in vain without wanting it." Also another fear I thought he could have, maybe particularly for Grantaire was him dying without believing.
Would that be really ridiculous and out of character. What is your opinions on the matter?
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: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby deHavilland » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:23 pm

IBelieveInYou wrote:In my fic he was feverish and delirious, and I wanted to write him having nightmares (I know, cliche much) especially about people of Paris not coming to their side (Which actually did happen) and his friends dying, but in the sense that "I had assured them we wouldn't be alone and I somehow deceived them", not in the sense of "They died in vain without wanting it." Also another fear I thought he could have, maybe particularly for Grantaire was him dying without believing.
Would that be really ridiculous and out of character. What is your opinions on the matter?


I think the important thing to remember is that while we identify Enjolras as a leader, it's not true in the sense that he's telling his friends what to do. Enjolras does not make them come to meetings, he does not make them come to the barricade and he most definitely does not make them stay there when things take a turn for the dire. That's not to say that he can't have fever-induced nightmares about things failing, hell, he can have fever-induced nightmares about Napoleon's elephant coming to life and rampaging the Latin Quarter as that's what fever-induced dreams are.

But Enjolras would never belittle his friends by making the assumption that they're following him thoughtlessly or blindly. If Combeferre dies on the barricade, it's not Enjolras' fault, Combeferre knew what he was getting into and believed in it himself. He keeps them abreast of the situation the entire way through with brutal honesty. I very much doubt he would think he had at any point led them astray with false information. He's not the only one scouting and doing surveillance, it's a joint effort. They're all watching each other's backs and no one is making promises they can't keep to one another. He's not deceiving them because at any point someone could raise their doubts or offer additional information. It's entirely a group effort.

As for Grantaire, well, that's really his own fault, now isn't it? I think Enjolras would recognize that he's done what he can for him, tried to send him on his way more than enough times. If he wants to get injured - or, Heaven forfend - killed doing something he doesn't believe in, that's his own foolishness.
Last edited by deHavilland on Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby IBelieveInYou » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:51 pm

Your reply was extremely helpful. It succeeded in putting all my thoughts in order, and everything makes sense. I understand what you say though I'd never had thought it that way.
Haha I would never have any doubts for Combeferre believing as much as Enjolras did, I mostly had Joly in mind, I guess, or Grantaire, but I agree that he would definitely have tried to send Grantaire away multiple times.
Thank you for answering! Are there any other opinions?
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: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:52 am

Yep, that was done for us :) (Wow, that was June 2010?)
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Marianne » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:39 am

Also keep in mind that several of the barricade boys (IIRC Feuilly and Combeferre?) do express a sense of betrayal... towards all the would-be allies, some of them in positions of power, who swore to have their backs at crunch time and then never showed up.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby IBelieveInYou » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:02 am

I'm new in the fandom and I absolutely adored this sketch :P
Marianne you are right.
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: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Rachel » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:16 am

Like, when Marius stopped coming to the meetings, Enjolras and the others remained friendly with him, and they weren't bitter about it.

But at one point Hugo mentions that the Amis were held together by brotherhood and friendship (I'm paraphrasing) and I feel like Enjolras was part of that. I mean, he knew they might all die, but maybe he was positive that Paris would rise. He was confident in what he was doing. I don't know. Guilt would be interesting to explore in a fanfic, but I don't think he'd be especially bitter. Especially not about Grantaire, because he permitted Grantaire to stand with him. He was glad he was with him. He could have sent him away and told him to run, but he was glad to have Grantaire die with him. I think that was probably how he felt about most of his friends, as much as he loved them. He was glad they were dying for the right thing, and were worthy of him and his cause, in a way. That's the way I see it, at least.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Rachelle » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:22 pm

I'm having a similar issue to this in my fanfic and to ask you what your opinion would be I'll summarise it. During the hiatus before the final battle at the barricade, if there was a chance for the barricade boys to escape would Enjolras encourage his friends to go? It's very hypothetical (there isn't such an opportunity in the fic- it's more for Enjolras' internal monologue than anything else.) It's mainly to do with Enjolras' possible feeling of guilt. Does he feel that it's his fault that they're all going to die at this point even though they all knew exactly what they were letting themselves in for and could have left of their own free will? In my mind he does but I'm not sure about how it would come across on paper. Trying to analyse his mental state and emotions at this point in proving difficult
Help would be appreciated.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby IBelieveInYou » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:36 pm

I don't think that even then, just before dying he would consider it his fault and feel guilty, but I believe that he would let them leave if they chose to and if they had a chance, just then, at the moment they all knew they were lost. He would even help them, that's how I think it. They would realize they were going to die, and as long as it was their choice I believe he would support it or at least accept it. Enjolras didn't keep anyone by force.
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: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Rachelle » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:44 pm

Thanks
I'm just a bit conflicted as to how to play it. It's a conversation and he's telling my OC to leave the barricade (she's a girl, she could escape without drawing attention to herself- I'm working on the plausibility of this- please bear with me on that) and she's replying that all the others have stayed why can't she. I originally wrote that Enjolras replied "You don't think I wouldn't let them all go if it were still possible, if they would go." I don't know now. Guilty Enjolras is just so easy to write. I don't know why. I'm going to try and tone it down a bit but it'll still be there.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby IBelieveInYou » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:47 pm

It sounds in character to me, but then again, I'm not the best person to judge :?
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: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Acaila » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:21 pm

Enjolras reappeared. He returned from his sombre eagle flight into outer darkness. He listened for a moment to all this joy with folded arms, and one hand on his mouth. Then, fresh and rosy in the growing whiteness of the dawn, he said:

"The whole army of Paris is to strike. A third of the army is bearing down upon the barricades in which you now are. There is the National Guard in addition. I have picked out the shakos of the fifth of the line, and the standard-bearers of the sixth legion. In one hour you will be attacked. As for the populace, it was seething yesterday, to-day it is not stirring. There is nothing to expect; nothing to hope for. Neither from a faubourg nor from a regiment. You are abandoned."

These words fell upon the buzzing of the groups, and produced on them the effect caused on a swarm of bees by the first drops of a storm. A moment of indescribable silence ensued, in which death might have been heard flitting by.

This moment was brief.

A voice from the obscurest depths of the groups shouted to Enjolras:

"So be it. Let us raise the barricade to a height of twenty feet, and let us all remain in it. Citizens, let us offer the protests of corpses. Let us show that, if the people abandon the republicans, the republicans do not abandon the people."

These words freed the thought of all from the painful cloud of individual anxieties. It was hailed with an enthusiastic acclamation.
....

After the man who decreed the "protest of corpses" had spoken, and had given this formula of their common soul, there issued from all mouths a strangely satisfied and terrible cry, funereal in sense and triumphant in tone:

"Long live death! Let us all remain here!"

"Why all?" said Enjolras.

"All! All!"

Enjolras resumed:

"The position is good; the barricade is fine. Thirty men are enough. Why sacrifice forty?"

They replied:

"Because not one will go away."

"Citizens," cried Enjolras, and there was an almost irritated vibration in his voice, "this republic is not rich enough in men to indulge in useless expenditure of them. Vain-glory is waste. If the duty of some is to depart, that duty should be fulfilled like any other."


And what then follows into the section with the uniforms. And Combeferre's bit about women and children.

As I see it, Enjolras can suggest and point out things, and is listened to by all, but he respects the choices that people make because he respects their minds and convictions. He is honest with people about what faces them, but does them the courtesy of allowing them their own choice without telling them what to do. Not to mention, who is he to deny them what he seeks himself?
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Rachelle » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:28 pm

Thanks guys. I think I might be able to combine both ideas actually. That passage was really helpful. It's a bit earlier in the timeline than the bit that I'm planning on putting this conversation in but I can definitely refer to it.
Regarding plausibility (in my very implausible fic), how easy would it be for my OC to escape at this point?
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby Acaila » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:35 pm

There's a bit after that where Enjolras describes a way that those with families could escape. That's with the uniform, but nevertheless. Enjolras himself has just come back from reconaissance, so it must be possible to move out with the barricade somehow at this stage.
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Re: Enjolras and angsty self doubt

Postby MmeBahorel » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:45 am

Is your OC dressed as a girl or a boy? And is she covered in powder burns? Meaning, could they smell the combustion of powder on her?

Alternately, how good of a liar is she? If she isn't covered in physical evidence of having been firing weapons, she may be able to claim something like "Oh, thank god, you're soldiers, I thought you might be more of those brigands! They kept me behind their lines and wouldn't let me go, I thought they were keeping me to give them pleasure after they won, but I was just now able to slip away!" if they find her close to the barricade itself. If further out, the obvious story would be "I had to go for the doctor, for my mother", but that'll get followed up with and she'd be arrested, but probably not shot.

Women fought and died on the barricades, so being a girl isn't an automatic token of innocence, but off the barricade itself, a girl walking the streets is less likely to be shot on sight. She's likely to get arrested, however, for anything from conspiracy with the rebels to prostitution.

But if she's in the streets as a boy, "shoot now, questions won't matter" is much more likely.

It's also extremely unlikely that anyone will open up to her, regardless of how she is dressed, unless it is a house to which she is known. What a good ruse that would be, a girl in distress, then when the doorkeeper opens to help her, he's jumped by her comrades who then take the house so they can start shooting from the windows. (this has lately been in use for armed robbery in my own city - the girl begs for help, but if you let her in, you will be robbed at gunpoint. But there's really nothing new under the sun, especially with something as simple as this.) So she's on the streets, no one will open up to her, soldiers are moving on the barricade positions - I don't think she can get out of this unnoticed entirely unless you focus on luck and that she doesn't actually go very far.

The women (Mme Hucheloup and her two servants) slipped out overnight, seemingly before 2 am but probably not much before midnight. Sunrise for that time of year is a bit before 5 am, so Enjolras is probably doing his recon before 4:30 in the morning and almost certainly is hurrying everyone out as quickly as possibly after the sun crosses the horizon (about 4:45, give or take a couple minutes). Gav runs into the National Guard post sometime after midnight. So everyone is on the alert all night.
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