The 10 Biggest Debates Among Les Mis Fans
Can you hear the people sing? Or rather, arguing? About so many dumb things in this crazy story?
If you know anything about Les Mis, you're aware that fans can get a little cray cray about this musical-slash-movie (as well as, ya know, the original book). We love the songs, and we know all the words. But we have a few items of contention among us, dear brothers. Let down your barricades that we may go deep into Les Mis fanlore.
10. Marius: bad romantic interest or worst romantic interest?
Let's just start off by establishing that no one loves Marius, Eddie Redmayne or no Eddie Redmayne. All his buddies on the barricades are trying to get a revolution off the ground and Marius is swanning about crushing on a mademoiselle. (You're not helping, Marius, they said in coded lyrics.)
Frankly, I'm with his brothers in insurgency. Marius not only manages to be totally oblivious to the fact his buddy Eponine has a major jones for him, but spends his time with Eponine ASKING HER TO CARRY OUT FAVORS TO HELP HIM GET WITH COSETTE. He's also elitist af—why else would he pass over a super cute, super ballsy street urchin for a lady with a parasol? To be fair, it isn't his fault he grew up pampered, but he woke up and developed his own ideology, and still drove Jean Valjean from his house after he found out about Valjean's criminal past. When things get feisty in Paris, he sends his girlfriend safely over the England and lets his endlessly loyal friend Eponine get shot up and then die in a soggy pile of sad. Overall, I give minimal points for Marius finally giving Eponine the duet she deserved, and finishing her last line, but that doesn't excuse the time he made her feel like a clanking third wheel in "A Heart Full of Love."
9. Should we feel sorry for Inspector Javert?
Viewed one way, he's a ruthless stickler for the law—just a jerk for the sake of being a jerk—but viewed another way, he's a flawed outsider who sees his own vulnerabilities in Jean Valjean, and feels he must destroy 24601 to feel better about himself.
Javert was notoriously born inside a jail, but the book also talks about the fact he has a Roma background. "Gypsy" obviously used not to be a flattering label. If you were part of that group, you were marked for life as a bad seed—like a Slytherin, but a thousand times worse.
But Inspector Javert triumphed over all that! He clawed his way out of the lower classes and made something of his life, even if it required him to take the most hated job in town. Then along comes Jean Valjean, someone else who wants to rock the social-class boat but in a really self-righteous way, and who gets to have a nice family and some friends. Naturally this upsets old Javert (Who am I? Who is THIS self-congratulatory factory owner?), who cannot see the world for all the pointless rules he wants everyone to follow, justice or no. At the end of the day, while Valjean gets moral superiority and an honorary daughter, Javert dies a sad, lonely death ("there is no way to go ooooooooooooooooooon").
8. Wait, did Marius know about Eponine's feelings?
You know that convo you've been meaning to have with that friend who is seriously so in love with you they're practically drooling every time you hang? That terrible "I'm just not that into you" conversation that makes you both feel awful?
Marius is doing what most of us would do in that situation: Avoiding the subject. Maybe he thinks it's just a crush that will fade with time if he just lets it go. Or maybe he's just a spineless monster who just doesn't want to address it. Either way, there's a ton of people out there who thinks he knowingly put Eponine in the Friendzone.
7. Does Cosette hate poor people?
I've always felt like there was a bit of a mismatch between young Cosette and old Cosette, at least in the musical. As a kid, she's this sweet little orphan who dreams of escaping her enslavement and having someone to love her, but then as an adult she's been given everything by Valjean, but can't identify with the poverty she left behind. Having come from nothing, and being the child of a woman who died trying to save her (i.e., sacrificing her body to earn some dollars to send the Thénardiers), you would think she might have more empathy for the scrounging dogfighters who took her in, and for the plight of the peasants who believe they deserve more and are calling for revolution. Instead, she lives a cosetted life and is wooed by the first fancy, well-dressed chump who comes along (^Marius).
Having said that, I'm on Cosette's side. She was enslaved as a child by people who treated her terribly and tried to squeeze every last frank out of her poor, dying mom. Wouldn't you end up bitter about your caretakers? Cosette and the Thénardiers are all victims of economic circumstance.
6. Did Jean Valjean WANT to get caught?
Guilt can haunt a person, y'all. And Jean Valjean is the king of guilt. Hence why he could not handle it when the bishop let him go early in the story.
Jean Valjean just can't let that go. So he perpetually tries to get caught throughout the story—stealing money, pulling a cart off someone in front of the entire world (though it was the right thing to do, tbh), stopping someone else from taking the fall for him, and pushing his luck with Javert about a dozen times. Does he want to be free or not?!
5. Jean-Fantine: canon or not canon?
Did Fantine and Valjean get romantic before she died in her straw pile or did they not? There's a legitimate argument that Jean Valjean felt guilty for how he initially treated Fantine at the factory, and acted so kindly toward Fantine and Cosette to redeem himself. Jean Valjean works very hard to redeem himself. It's kind of his thing.
But Valjean went to extremes to redeem himself than with Fantine and her daughter. Is it possible that he recognized some beauty in Fantine he had previously only seen on the factory line? Had he loved the beautiful woman working in his factory, but didn't make a move because the mega creep-o foreman had scared her to death already?
How much should we read into that one "I shall keep you warm" line? Bonjouuuuurrrr.
4. Why are the Thénardiers so poor if they're so smart?
If there was a prize for Most Creative Thieves Ever, the Thénardiers would win it hands down. So how did this scrappy family end up with poorest of all of them in Paris? THEORY: They picked the wrong pocket, and their mark took revenge where it hurt. They avoided jail, but had nothing left. So they had to move to Paris so they could rob folks really hard for a while and earn it all back.
3. Were Marius & Co. hopelessly deluded from the outset?
Marius and his buddies were right to want a government that was more sympathetic to the people and their needs. That's all good. No one is saying that their cause wasn't worthy or that they were naive to believe in it. But the way they structured their revolution, expecting a whole city of workin' folks to come out and rally behind their rich-kid behinds? Poor student leadership was arguably the reason that the revolution failed.
2. Is Javert the worst spy in spy history?
I applaud his efforts, but Javert blended in with the student uprising for about 0.2 seconds before Gavroche blew his cover. Did he even try to hide who he was? Not really, just waltzed into the camp and announced, "Hi, there will be no attacks tonight, you're welcome for this information - a kind stranger with secret information." Uh yuh okay.
1. Can *anyone* be happy before they are on their deathbed?
Fantine doesn't get a promise that Cosette will be looked after until she's basically dead; Eponine doesn't get any kind of love out of Marius until she's pavement pulp; Valjean doesn't get a proper reunion with Cosette until he's about to cark it... CAN ANYONE BE HAPPY IN THIS STORY?
ETA: Obviously not.
What are the parts of Les Mis that have you tres obsessed? Is Marius okay or is he the actual worst?