No, I’m not going to specify whether I mean the book, the stage musical, or one of the many movie versions. Why? Eat your spinach, that’s why.
Watching Les Miz at a local theatre the other day, a couple of things occurred to me. (1) This is the best goddamn musical ever conceived of, and anyone who says different is Canadian; and (2) the revolutionaries could only have had a worse plan if Enjolras’s “strategy” had involved all of them stripping naked, slathering themselves with deer blood, and attacking the French army while accompanied by hungry wolves. Yeah, they were on the side of the angels and all, but they were still idiots.
(Except Eponine. I loves me some Eponine, which is why I hate Marius. She didn’t deserve what she got and the fact that she died and Cosette lived is proof that there’s no justice.)
Anyway, that’s just me. Did the revolutionaries deserve what they got?
I started to say that it depends on whether you think that somebody who walks through the worst part of town holding up $100 bills deserves to get mugged. (Personally, I wouldn’t say such a person deserved a good mugging, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him either.)
But then it occurred: that analogy falls like a barricade of road debris if the guy had been bitch slapping people with those $100 bills and even picking a couple of pockets along the way, and that’s more Enjolras and crew. Whatever policies the students were protesting (I’m not up on 19th century French history so I’m not really sure what they were pissed off about, other than that only LaMarque knew what it’s all about, man) I’m pretty sure that the privates in the French army who were killed at the barricade had little to nothing to do with it, and in fact I doubt any of the “swells who run the show” missed a creme brulee over it, while little Gavroche and his sister Eponine (and their mother in the book- though she deserved it) got offed for Enjolras’s desire to die young and leave a good looking tableaux.
So yeah, to Enfer with the lot of 'em.
And that final scene of the movie: I’d love to see a parody where they all finish singing “Tomorrow comesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss…” and then there’s a long silence and they realize that, uh, we’re still in a pitiful barricade and now there’s no food or water here… maybe God is really a monarchist, and somewhere the soldiers who died at the barricade are in a raucous paradise getting lapdances and brie.
That’s pretty much it. Enjolras had fire and conviction but his entire plan relied on everyone else in Paris feeling the same way he did with no Plan B. If you’re going to try and overthrow the government, try to have a Plan B.
And yet it turned out to be barely a footnote in French history. Ironic, to me, that such a tiny flashbang of an uprising should be the background for such a work of art (book, not movie nor musical).
I haven’t read the book in a couple of years, but as I remember it, the things that the students were exercised about seemed pretty small potatoes anyway. But even so, even as small injustices, they were still injustices and the students were being disinterested and idealistic*, so I voted No, they didn’t deserve it (morally).
Agree with Sparky, Eponine was one sick twisted girl.
*just goes to show what being disinterested and idealistic will get you, without practicality.
I have long felt that Enjolas, not Javer, was the real villain of the story. Javer, for all his faults, was just doing his job.
It has been a while since I read the book, but I believe Hugo states that Parisians were accustomed to street demonstrations and barricades cropping up every so often. They would detour around the obstruction and go on about their lives. Remember that many of these people had lived through the Revolution and the Terror. They weren’t likely to favor a return to anarchy. So, there was absolutely no chance whatsoever that taking to the barricades would cause a mass uprising.
Two other things to consider: The students were the sons of the aristocracy. In ten or twenty years, they would be in positions in society to affect the kinds of changes they wanted to see. Thanks to Enjolas, that could never happen.
Also, was the society truly just a few wealthy aristocrats and an army of starving street rats? Consider how Valjean became rich - his factory made artificial gemstones. The rich wouldn’t buy them; the poor couldn’t. So who made him rich? Clearly a thriving middle-class. While the poor were definitely present, the society was not on the verge of collapse. There was time to wait a few years until a real solution could be achieved, instead of engaging in a dramatic but completely ineffective action that only fed Enjolas’ monstrous ego.
If you had asked this the first time I saw the stage show (age 12), I would have wept bitter tears over the noble deaths of those pure-hearted (and really hot!) students. Seventeen years later, I was actively angry watching the movie: “You stupid little children, playing at revolution during school holidays.”
Ha, I ran across the film the other day on HBO, and caught it right before the scene where they all get killed. We watch it until the final man falls, and my husband says, “very gallant, but dumb.” Sums it up to me.
It worked two years before, in 1830, and it would work again 16 years later in 1848. For some reason, standing on barricades in Paris often yields positive results
They weren’t stupid at all - they knew very well how the game was played. They happened to strike out this time, but it could easily have gone the other way.
Edit: and now I have “Do You Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head, Thanks, Skald.
I voted “Of course not”. They’re French republican revolutionnaries, they’re heroes by default and always right :mad: Anybody stating otherwise is either a traitorous royalist scum or a clueless foreigner, possibly a king’s ass sucker Brit.
You partially redeemed yourself by proclaiming your love for Eponine but immediatly wasted any good will by not even mentioning Gavroche, the main protagonist of “Les Misérables”.
They had lived through the 1830 revolution which didn’t result in anarchy, and had been successful.
Je suis tombé par terre,
C’est la faute à Voltaire.
Le nez dans le ruisseau,
C’est la faute à Rousseau.