// reasons why you should join the Les Mis fandom //

When I was first introduced to Les Miserables by watching the movie in theatres in 2012, I didn’t like it very much.

I mean, it was well-done and all, but I had no prior knowledge of the storyline or characters, and all of the death seemed incredibly depressing and unnecessary. (I was just ecstatic that Wolverine had a good singing voice.) And, surprisingly enough, I didn’t even cry- while my friends who were better acquainted with the movie were sitting beside me sobbing. So, essentially, I watched it and then promptly moved on with my life.

But then, this May, a little flicker of interest grew in me when I saw some posts by Les Mis fans on social media, and I randomly decided to look into Les Mis again. So I did, and I figured that this period of interest would last about a week, maybe a month at most.

Well, I was wrong. I have affectionately dubbed this summer my “Les Mis summer”, because I ended up liking it a whole lot more than I had originally intended.

Last week, I began to think about how interesting it is that Les Mis has the whole package: a book, a musical, and a movie. What other fandom has three unique versions of its story and characters? (It can get rather confusing occasionally, when the movie and/or musical stray from the book, but it’s still awesome.) And then thinking on that made me realize that having three adaptations of a story gives it an advantage: even more reasons to love it!

And so, I came up with a list of, basically, reasons why Les Miserables is awesome.

But before I carry on with that list, I must explain some of the plot and characters, because some of you may not know much about it and thus my ramblings on how awesome the barricade boys are would be pointless.

The Basic Plot: Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, the story depicts a former convict’s road to redemption and struggle with running from his past, an inspector’s near-obsession with capturing the convict (who broke his parole so he could be free) and abiding by the law, the tragedies a young woman goes through in her efforts to care for her illegitimate daughter, the brokenness of the lives of the poor people of Paris, a girl’s descent into poverty and unrequited love, and a revolutionary group’s fight and sacrifice for for freedom.

Characters:

Jean Valjean

my name is JEAN VALJEAN

(He is an entity of awesomeness.)

The main character of the story; an ex-convict who was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child. After his sentence, he leaves behind a life of hatred and deceit after a bishop shows him the meaning of grace. He breaks his parole and adopts pseudonyms to evade the police (such as Madeline and Fauchelevent), because he wants to be free from his past altogether (but it will inevitably catch up to him). He begins a new life and eventually becomes Cosette’s adopted father. He finds fulfillment in loving his adopted daughter and helping people who are in difficult situations, even when it means risking his own life and welfare. Valjean combines a convict’s street smarts with his newfound idealism and compassion. His whole life is a quest for redemption.

Javert

AND IM JAVERT

(Not quite as awesome as Valjean. But I am slightly biased, soooo…)

A police inspector who strictly believes in law and order and will stop at nothing to enforce France’s harsh penal codes. Javert is incapable of compassion or pity, and performs his work with such passion that he takes on a nearly animal quality when he is on the chase. He nurses an especially strong desire to recapture Valjean, whose escapes and prosperity he sees as an affront to justice. Ultimately, Javert is unable to say with certainty that Valjean deserves to be punished. This ambiguity undermines the system of belief on which Javert bases his life and forces him to choose between hypocrisy and honor.

Fantine

fantine

(Yes, the “I Dreamed a Dream” girl.)

                 A working-class girl who leaves her hometown of Montreuil-sur-mer to seek her fortune in Paris. Fantine’s innocent affair with a dapper student named Tholomyès leaves her pregnant and abandoned. Although she is frail, she makes a Herculean effort to feed herself and her daughter, Cosette, who she eventually leaves with an innkeeper, Thénardier. Even as she descends into prostitution, she never stops caring for and dreaming of being reunited with Cosette. She represents the destruction that nineteenth-century French society cruelly wreaks on the less fortunate.

Cosette Fauchelevent

little lark

cosette now i remember

(She’s got a Cinderella-esque thing going on.)

                 Fantine’s daughter, who lives as Valjean’s adopted daughter after her mother dies. Cosette spends her childhood as a servant for the Thénardiers in Montfermeil, but even this awful experience does not make her hardened or cynical. Under the care of Valjean and the nuns of Petit-Picpus, Cosette ultimately blossoms into a beautiful, educated young woman. She finds fulfillment in her love for Marius. Cosette is innocent and docile, but her participation in Valjean’s many escapes from the law show that she also possesses intelligence and bravery.

The Thénardiers

the classy thenardiers

(Classy, right?)

Cruel, money-obsessed people who first appear as innkeepers and Cosette’s keepers (and abusers). They exhort money from whomever they can, in any way they can, and don’t care much about anything else- even their own children when they lose the inn and are forced to the streets of Paris. Thénardier is in charge of a gang called the Patron-Minette and has strong ties to the criminal underworld in Paris; their schemes range from robbery to fraud to murder. They are portrayed as the comic relief of the musical and movie, but truthfully no one really likes them.

Éponine Thénardier

young eponine

Les Miserables (2012) SAMANTHA BARKS as Eponine

eponine with a hat

(Aren’t her newsboy cap and barricade outfit darling? Also, she’s one of my favorites. More on that later.)

The Thénardiers’ eldest daughter; she was pretty and spoiled as a child, but as her family descended into poverty and crime her beauty waned and she became a girl of the streets- a gamine. She is rough and spirited, yet known as a shadow as she is good at slipping unnoticed around the Parisian streets. Her unrequited love for her friend Marius Pontmercy ultimately leads to her taking a bullet for him at the barricade and her death. “Her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid.” -Victor Hugo

Gavroche Thénardier

GAV GAV GAV

(Ahh, the cuteness! Gav is everyone’s favorite.)

The Thénardiers’ oldest son; Éponine’s younger brother. Gavroche is kicked out of the house at an early age and becomes a Parisian street urchin. He is a happy-go-lucky child who enjoys the small pleasures of life and demonstrates unusual generosity toward those even less fortunate than he is. (He’s a clever little fireball of sass and it’s awesome.) He is also fierce and brave, and plays a decisive role in the barricade even though he does not have a gun. Also his death is the most heartbreaking and the one where I did actually get teary-eyed in the movie theatre.

Marius Pontmercy

marius youre no longer a child

(Oh, Marius… *shakes head*)

A young and wealthy law student who is kind and innocent and honest and slightly unwise; when he first sees Cosette he falls madly in love and spends his days fawning over her like a lovesick puppy, much to his revolutionary friends’ disdain/amusement. Has to make the choice between fighting with his friends, Les Amis de l’ABC, on the barricades (even though he is a Bonapartist at heart) and Cosette; in the end, he unwittingly gets both although he loses his friends because he’s the only one who survives the barricades and AHH. Oblivious to Éponine’s affections until the very end; is sad that she died (as friends) but eventually marries Cosette.

Les Amis de l’ABC

Barricade Boys 1

(These are {a few of} the barricade boys, and they are awesome.)

the worlds favorite boy band

(See? :D)

Enjolras

enjolras

(Isn’t he adorable? He’s another favorite. Again, more on that later.)

“The Chief”; he’s a law student and the leader of Les Amis de l’ABC, a group of students dedicated to bringing freedom to the downtrodden of Paris- even if that means fighting the National Guard for it. Described as an extremely handsome youth, passionate and eloquent, intelligent and courageous, but “capable of being terrible”. He doesn’t care about romantic relationships, preferring instead to have a wholehearted dedication to France and liberty. Thus, when Marius moons over Cosette, Enjolras gets really frustrated and reminds him of the higher calling of freedom. He does, however, truly care about Les Amis, even if he isn’t always good at showing it.

Combeferre

combeferre

(He’s a bookworm and therefore a man after my own heart.)

“The Guide”; Enjolras’s best friend and right-hand man, who is the more rational one of the two and often curbs his friend’s passion into a logical decision. He is kindhearted and thoughtful and incredibly smart; he’s a medical student who represents the philosophy of the revolution.

Courfeyrac

courfeyrac

(This is Courf’s derp face. Hehe.)

“The Centre”; a loyal, charismatic, warm-hearted student. He truly cares about his friends and has the sweetest brotherly relationship with Gavroche. He is witty and enjoys a good laugh (and flirtation), but when the time comes to fight he is serious and ready to face the enemy.

Grantaire

Grantaire

(Look at him! So amused by lovesick Marius. He’s one of us. xD)

He is a cynic by nature and has no interest in revolution but stays out of love for his friends, or more specifically, for his admiration and belief in Enjolras. He finds great enjoyment in poking fun at Marius and getting Enjolras riled up… and, unfortunately, drinking. Despite his cynicism, he eventually declares himself a believer in the Republic, and dies alongside Enjolras.

Jean Prouvaire “Jehan”

jehan

(He’s such a sweetheart!!!)

A romantic and a poet; he is quiet and shy, yet intrepid when the barricades arise. Also, he’s said to be the only barricade boy who is a Christian, which makes him even more endearing!

Joly

joly

(He’s like, “what on earth is going on???” He gets that expression a lot, actually…)

A malade imaginaire student of medicine, yet described as the happiest of Les Amis. He cares very much about his friends (majorly their health) and his fiancée Musichetta. (In the movie, he looks perpetually confused and it’s hilarious.)

Lesgle “Bousset”

bousset

He’s the oldest member of the group, and considered perpetually unlucky, but retains his cheerful nature. He studies law and is good friends with Joly, and was the first of the Amis to meet Marius.

Bahorel

bahorel

(Poor Bahorel got left out of the musical.)

A dandy, streett-fighter, and idler from a peasant background, who is known well around the student cafés of Paris. Has studied law for 11 years.

Feuilly

Feuilly

He’s a poor, orphaned fanmaker who taught himself how to read and write. He’s trustworthy and hardworking, and the only of the Amis who isn’t a student.

 

So now that you’ve been introduced to the characters and story, I shall proceed with the list (the original intention of this post, ha).

Reasons why you should join the Les Mis fandom:

1.) The story itself. The aspect of Grace vs Law, of true love (“to love another person is to see the face of God”), of social justice. Brilliant.

2.) The characters. Three-dimensional and each one interesting- even the “minor” characters such as the barricade boys.

3.) The MUSIC. Simply gorgeous and terribly catchy. And if you don’t like one actor’s rendition (*cough cough* Russell Crowe), there’s at least three different soundtracks out there- and that’s not even including the original French Broadway version!

4.) The Brick. There’s a reason the book is called that, y’know; it’s arguably the largest work of fiction ever. And I’m told that Hugo’s writing style is poignant yet hilarious (especially his chappie titles), which is a masterful combination. Sure, the Brick’s Marius and Éponine may not be quite as likable as their musical and movie counterparts, but they’re still awesome. And DETAILS ABOUT MY BARRICADE BABIES- I mean boys… I haven’t read it yet, but might attempt to tackle it next summer. We shall see!

4.) The historical aspect of it. 19th century France, during the French Revolution? Simply wonderful. And there was really a failed June Rebellion led by some schoolboys, really a little boy that died… *sobs*

5.) Is part of it depressing? PART, YOU SAY? *laughs sardonically* But hey, despite all the death and sadness in the story, we’re actually a pretty happy and hilarious fandom. (Read: Les Mis puns and headcanons and modern versions of the story.)

6.) And yes, there are some not-so-godly aspects of this tale, particularly in the movie/musical… And about half the fandom unfortunately likes to focus on that, for whatever reasons. But the other half of the fandom consists of fellow believers like you and I who prefer to focus on the beautiful things, the love and light amidst the darkness.

7.) Also I just really really really need someone to fangirl over this beautifulness with. ^-^

8.) ENJOLRAS. ÉPONINE. GAVROCHE. LES AMIS. Enough said.

And now, I shall end with something completely sweet and adorable.

even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise

This is known around the fandom as “Enjonine”- Enjolras and Éponine. They don’t exactly interact in the actual story, but the idea of putting them together in a romantic relationship is simply adorable.

Éponine needs a man who’s stronger than Marius, yet is righteous and kind- to lift her up out of her broken life and show her the love she’s never known from anyone.

Enjolras needs someone to teach him how to love, but a weak and naïve girl wouldn’t do at all. Éponine would have been the perfect support behind him as he went into the fight for freedom. Also- she’s the one of very people he’s fighting for in the first place!

Their dynamic personalities would have blended well together, and they would’ve been Paris’s political power couple. And it would’ve been epicness.

ENJONINE AHH

(LOOK AT THE CUTENESS.)

enjonine sweetness

And so, on that adorable note, I shall end this post (which ended up being waaaay longer than I intended, my apologies) with one final thing: Join the Les Miserables fandom. We have revolutions and music and Gavroche. 😀

{love, Em}

power c

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2 Replies to “// reasons why you should join the Les Mis fandom //”

  1. Can I just say…I watched the movie a week or so ago for the first time, and quite enjoyed it, and I do believe Fantine was my favorite. Really. She is lovely. And One Day More! I cried and got chills. Perfect post, my dear!

    Like

  2. I was introduced to Les Miserables in college. A friend of mine took me to see the musical. Before seeing the musical, I read a summary of the novel so I wouldn’t get lost following the plot. The musical was beautiful! I was a pile of sobbing mush by the end of the show. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve seen several versions of the movie through the years including the 2012 movie musical. I recommend the 1998 non-musical version with Liam Neeson (Valjean) and Geoffrey Rush (Javert). You gave a great plot summary and I love your character descriptions. I loved Hugh Jackman in this production. His soliloquy “What Have I Done?” is one of my favorite scenes. Watching his struggle with accepting grace is gripping. And I love how the scene ends with him walking through the graveyard toward the light shining down on the mountain as he sings “Another story must begin!” Wow!

    Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful story and how it depicts grace and the redemption of men while mirroring a lives of debauchery and legalism. I choose grace!

    Like

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