Friday, 18 December 2015

Les Misérables Read-Through #13: III.viii.1 - III.viii.20

Eponine
I have crossed the halfway mark and I feel that with this week's section I have definitely entered the part of the book in which a lot happens. Also, this post should have been posted yesterday but my life has pretty much stood in the shadow of The Force Awakens since midnight on Wednesday. I have slightly recovered but will be seeing it for the third time today. I gladly admit I have a problem. Not with Les Misérables however which, time upon time, keeps surprising me with how much I enjoy it.


Plot Summary:
In this week's section we've been dealing with the fall out of Cosette's disappearance and how lacklustre it made Marius. He's a bit of a love sick puppy and it's sort of adorable, but also a bit desperate. And remember how I complained there was no Eponine yet? She appeared in the first chapter of this week's section! Hugo hasn't made it explicit that it's the Thenardiers he's describing but it's quite clear. His descriptions of the poverty they live in and the depravity that the parents allow. And then, tadah, there is the reappearance of Jean Valjean and Cosette. Since we're seeing this from Marius' point of view we don't really know who anyone is but that adds a suspense that otherwise would be missing.What follows is as close to an action/thriller element as we're probably going to get from Hugo. Thenardier and his cronies want to blackmail Jean Valjean when the former recognizes him and wait, does Javert make a little appearance there as well?

Feel of the Chapters:
There is something theatrical about these chapters. For the first time in who knows how long, all of these chapters are actually within one book which means they form one continuous story, which adds to the sense of theatre. Marius views most of what happens through a peephole into his neighbours' room which significantly narrows down the action but also makes everything feel more narrowed down. Marius doesn't have the time to worry about himself, the Thenardiers remain largely despicable and Valjean continues to surprise me with his heroism.

General Thoughts:
  • I feel extremely bad for Eponine who, although a terrible child perhaps, definitely doesn't deserve the kind of life she's being dished up by her parents.
  • Thenardier goes into a discussion of what makes some humans monstrous which I thought was really interesting. Even Hugo's worst characters have become so through hardships and societal constraints and this might be why I'm loving his book so much!
  • Jean Valjean, when he reappears, comes across as one hell of a man in these chapters. The constant self-doubt which must be nagging him doesn't appear on the surface at all and that, in my eyes, makes him a lot more respectable. 
Quotes:
'The Moon, entering through the fourt panes of the window, cast its whiteness into the crimson and flaming garret; and to the poetic spirit of Marius, who was dreamy even in the moment of action, it was like a thought of heaven mingled with the misshapen reveries of earth.' p.1332
I love this quote because it's just such a good example of how theatrical and yet also prosaic Hugo's style became in these chapters. You can just see this happening and the influence it has on Marius.
'Sad creatures, without name, or sex, or age, to whom neither good nor evil were any longer possible, and who, on emerging from childhood, have already nothing in this world, neither liberty, nor virtue, nor responsibility.'p.1256
So yet, this is why I pity Eponine. Hugo never shies away from making his characters suffer but he never seems to do so with a happy heart. It all becomes a consequence of our society, rather. 

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