Saturday, February 2, 2013

In Defense of Cosette and The Reality of Eponine


      I've been reading other movie reviews from blogs about Les Miserables and almost all of them have the same review of Cosette: airhead, spoiled, no character, pretty rich girl who gets the guy. That seems to be the general attitude most people have about her. So my question is why? What's with all the hate for this girl?

     I don't understand why people view Cosette with such dislike and raise Eponine on a pedestal. I mentioned this in my movie review, but now I'm going to go a little deeper with it. I have never really liked Eponine at all and to those who say that she is the true heroine of the story, well then you clearly haven't understood the story. Fantine is the true heroine. A single mother who gave her life for her precious daughter is far greater than a lovesick girl getting shot for a man who doesn't love her at all or at least not romantic love. It's clear that Marius cared about her, but it wasn't the love that Eponine wanted. He loved Cosette, end of story.














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In Defense of Cosette


 Amanda Seyfried as Cosette in Les Miserables

     I always saw Cosette as the Cinderella of the story and isn't that what people love? A poor girl from obscure beginnings who is rescued by a kind man and raised in his love. Why do people see her as a clueless airhead? They condemn her for being silly and ridiculous for falling in love with a man she only saw once, but didn't Marius do the same thing? How come Marius isn't ridiculed and called an airhead for the same reason?

     Cosette has lived a sheltered life in a convent with her father for nine years, so she hasn't really grown up around men at all. She has been raised to be innocent, generous and kind. Yet, she probably hasn't forgotten her abused former life and the Thenadiers, so she isn't that clueless about the outside world. Then comes the first glance of love from the first man who seems to notice her and she is curious, amazed and even a little scared. Give her a break, I think we've all been there.

    Quit punishing Cosette for being kind and generous. Stop going on about how she has no real importance in the story She plays a very distinct part in Les Miserables. It was because of her that her mother gave her life, it was because of her that Valjean could live the life he always dreamed of, it was because of her that Marius finally saw love in a concrete form and not as an abstract illusion.

     In a world that was dominated by darkness, terror and fear, Cosette stood out with a gentle, but strong light to those who needed it. Her mother, her father, and her lover.

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The Reality of Eponine

Samantha Barks as Eponine in Les Miserables
     Even as a little girl and watching the musical, I found Eponine incredibly annoying. All she seemed to do was whine and moan about a man who didn't notice her. I didn't understand her role in the musical at all and even now, I'm annoyed by her. They're at the brink of a revolution and she's crying about how alone she is. Dry up Scarlett. 

     Now, I'm not going to be entirely cruel. There are many honorable aspects to Eponine. She was courageous, she helped Marius find Cosette as well as take a bullet for him. There is a general charm and kindness about Eponine and that's how a lot of people see her, but they don't have to slander Cosette just because she got the guy and the poor girl didn't. 

     Also, Eponine is is completely destitute, she has no home and no money and is also (in the eyes of Javert and the Parisian government) a menace to society, because she helps her father with his plots. She knew full well that Marius couldn't conceive the thought of taking her because of those qualities. Unfair as they may, they are what make Eponine who she is. She didn't join the barricades because she believed in a better world, she was there to be with Marius and nothing more or less than that.

     We all live, we all love, and eventually we all die with love, without love, or fighting for love. That's what Eponine did, she died for love. She died so Marius could live and love Cosette.

24 comments:

  1. I hate how mean people are about Cosset :( Yes Eponine did show her love couragously and gave her life and all that but Maruis loved Cosset and even though she wasn't perfect he loved her and she needed someone to take care of her *cries a river of tears* <3 <3 <3

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  2. I would just like to point out that if you read the book it says that Cosette doesn't remember anything before living at the convent, so she doesn't remember the harsh childhood she had. People like Eponine because they identify more with her, they understand loving someone who doesn't give another thought to your existence. It strikes you more in the book because Marius wasn't her friend, just her neighbor who pitied her and in all honesty only paid attention to her when he needed to use her for some errand. People like Eponine because she sacrificed what little happiness she had by finding Cosette for him and in the end dying to save the one thing she did love. Cosette is a sweet girl, and the only symbol of innocence in the entire book. But her character is rather bland and underdeveloped, she comes across as just being an object for certain characters to love (Fantine, Valjean, Marius) and that is why people do not care about her character, people prefer young Cosette because it takes a lot for a child to survive that kind of environment.

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  3. Wow, I love your review. Les Miserable is on my list of movies to watch very soon.

    Your blog is also lovelt.

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  4. While I have to agree more with Anonymous, I *do* have to say...TOTALLY agree about Fantine!!!!!!! She is my FAVORITE Les Miz character and it annoys me to NO end when people elevate Eponine above Fantine or say they like On My Own better than I Dreamed a Dream. Like you said, people love and aren't loved in return and get over it all the time (I did). But someone sacrificing their life for their child...hello, that's SO much more dramatic and YES...she is the true heroine. None of the story would have happened if it wasn't for her.

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  5. I would like to say that the main reason why people love Eponine so much is because she is more relatable. Cosette grew up in a convent and fell in love with pretty much one of the first guys she laid eyes on. Eponine has always lived in the shadow of her thieving family. When she was finally noticed by Marius, he changed her world because she was getting attention and she fancied herself in love. People relate to her because it is far more possible to fall in love with someone and they only think of you as a friend. This is why I believe that Cosette is truly one of if not the hardest character to play, the girl that everyone despises.

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  6. I fell in love with the first guy I had a relationship with, and married him. So I don't have issues with that aspect of Cosette & Marius' story. However, in the book, Cosette and Marius will not shut up about how much they've loved each other from the first moment they set eyes on each other, and neither of them come across as terribly rational or interesting -- they're in loooooooooove, and that's about all there is to them. Compared to Valjean and Fantine especially, they're boring.

    Eponine in the book, however, is almost a parallel to Fantine's early life. She's poor, she hates her life, she sees a better life, she loves this older student. But Eponine does not get pregnant the way Fantine did, she tries to earn Marius' notice and affection in honorable ways. Also, in the book she befriends Gavroche and tries to take care for him, never knowing that he's actually her little brother that her parents sold (IIRC) when he was a baby. But in the musical, she's just kind of mopey, I agree.

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  7. I hate Eponine. In the book, she's drunk, toothless, suicidal, looks like an old man, and participates in illegal activities for money. All she ever thinks about is getting her man, even when the revolution started. The reason she went to the barricades is because she wanted to get shot with Marius. She was hoping that both of them would die. Marius doesn't even know her. In the book, it ways that he found her annoying and clingy.

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    1. Okay, you do realise that Eponine lives on the street, is implied to be prostituted to her father, lives with an abusive father who is a criminal ... the list goes on. Marius was all she really had, and seemed to be the only person who showed her any kindness. I'm not saying that you have to like her, just that she is an incredibly complex and interesting character and waaaaay more than an ''annoying and clingy'' lovesick girl, okay?

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  8. This is exactly how I feel!!! Eponine is a great character, BUT why forget about Cosette? What about her? It's so true! We raise Eponine up like a golden goddess and shove Cosette under a rug!!!! People, please, I beg you, PLEASE, remember what Cosette went through and how Eponine also treated Cosette as a child. Just because Cosette grew up into someone more beautiful, rich, and a little more of better life than Eponine, don't bash her and praise Eponine!!!! Yes, Eponine had a bad life, but is that REALLY Cosette's fault? No! It was in fact in a way her parents. She knew she could never be loved by Marius, and yes it was a brave thing for her to die for Marius, but in a way it was only for herself. So PLEASE stop bashing poor Cosette, and STOP praising Eponine as much. I love both characters a lot, but this whole outrageous battle of Cosette vs/ Eponine is driving me mad!!

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  9. This is excellent. However I do have some pity for Eponine in the sense that she never got the love, salvation and happiness she wanted; but yeah, she's overrated, and in her hopelessness, rather selfish. She's portrayed much differently in the musical than in the book.

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    1. Okay, I agree with this, kind of. But I've seen some people here saying that Eponine is toothless and looks like an old man in the book. I don't think that is at all a valid reason for thinking she is a worse person than Cosette.
      I think that Cosette is a symbol of hope and redemption in this book and she is refreshingly and unequivocally good. She and Marius are the hope for the future. But I'm pretty shocked by this unbending criticism of Eponine because she's upset that Marius doesn't love her and because of the life she leads.Doesn't Eponine deserve life and happiness just like Cosette does even though Eponine, at her parents' prompting, bullied Cosette when they were children? Yes, her father does despicable things and she has already suffered because of her upbringing, but I don't think she should be then further punished by being condemned for her parents' actions.
      Eponine is desperate when she draws Marius to the barricade so he'll die, so I'm surprised that people are calling her selfish, because a) she obviously doesn't really want him to suffer by being away from Cosette since she takes a bullet for him so he won't die, and b) she gives him the letter from Cosette anyway so she knows he'll go back to her and c) she never even tries to harm Cosette because she knows that Marius loves her. Yes, she only joins the barricade because she wants to die with Marius, not because she wants to fight out against the injustice of her society. But Cosette barely knows about the barricade! She stays in her house far away from the action. So if you want to criticise Eponine here, Cosette also kind of deserves it. I don't see much selfishness in Eponine's actions here, neither in the movie nor in the book. Yes, she wants Marius to love her back. But is that so much to ask, especially since Cosette also wants exactly that and Cosette also has a million other things that Eponine doesn't? I'm not saying her money and comfort are things against her because she can't help being rich and loved, and of course Marius does actually love Cosette. But I'm saying that all this comfort is something Eponine has never known and so we should have more sympathy towards her. Cosette isn't a clingy and lovesick girl any more than Eponine, and I refuse to judge either character because they're both in love with the same person. But I value Eponine for her depth of character and her courage which we don't see much in Cosette. And even though she does want to be with Marius, she never forces Marius or Cosette to give each other up. We'd all dislike her if the moment she realised that Marius loved Cosette she just stopped loving him, and went back to before, so can everyone please stop telling her to 'get over it'? She even stops Montparnasse and his gang from robbing Cosette's house. She has always been taught to lie and steal, and it's pretty heroics she goes against all of that. Cosette can't even think about abandoning her father for her true love, and to be frank she doesn't actively do much, while Eponine gives up everything, and she has a life and a family, even if they're not perfect, and they're all Eponine has in the world. This is kind of Hugo's fault because not many of his female characters are well drawn and they tend to be stereotypical characters of Hugo's time. Perhaps the reason Cosette draws so much hate is because after the age of about six she never really experiences any more hardship, and while you can't blame her for not getting much opportunity to show off her strength of character, it does make it harder to root for her as a character.
      While this whole argument is purely my opinion and I don't want to force it on anyone, I would like everyone to just stop and think a moment.

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  10. Ditto, ditto, and again, DITTO! I can't say I love Cosette, (I mean, it's all about the male characters in Les Miz, and as far as the gals. . .Fantine IS the heroine.)

    This is one of my biggest pet-peeves EVER. From the minute I saw the musical (about three years ago now,) fell in love with the play, saw it live, and made converts, ;) I always, always disliked Epoinine. Ok, so after seeing the off-Broadway show I felt just a tad bit sorry for her--seeing her horrible, misused life on the streets. But anyway, all that aside, she is a whiny brat. ;) And a poor role model to so many teenage girls who can "relate." Her songs are some of the most beautiful in the play, however, it's very annoying to see articles and blog posts bemoaning singleness. . .that relate to Eponine. Eponine was suicidal. Eponine was a rebel. She threw away her life for a man who never cared for her in a romantic way. etc, etc

    So anyway--excellent post! Aside from a few guys, you are the only other person I know who feels this way. Way to go, girly! ;)

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  11. I agree, I hate Eponine, I dislike her character in the movie and in the book, the only thing she did in the movie was lament about her lonely live, and quoting Enjorlas here: Who cares about your lonely soul? And, personaly I don't mind Cosette, I don't hate her or love her, but I was really happy that she end up with Marius, because they were more similar than Eponine and Marius were.
    And also you Eponine fans, I think that just because she is a girl who is ignored by her crush, you like her, because think about it, Gavroche, who in the book is said to be Eponine's brother, went through the same, but worse. Because:
    1.-He wasn't really loved by his parents like ever.
    2.-He is thrown to the street by his parents at a very young age and has been living in the streets since and has been poor practicaly all his live.
    3.-He went through 1.- and 2.- and still is kind lighthearted, fun, brave and selfless, while Eponine is bitter, matured, insane and selfish.
    Just think about that, but after all you can like the character that you want :) This is just my opinion.

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  12. Marius is ridiculed quite a bit, actually. He IS something of an airhead and an extreme dreamer. I think that it's not Cosette's fault that she gets pretty things, a great dad, etc. She's a really nice girl and I have nothing against her. However, I like Eponine better. I don't raise her up on a pedestal, but I do pity her. She was raised by two criminals who didn't really love each other. She gets drunk, has no teeth, dresses in rags, etc; is that her fault? No. And hey, the whole point of a musical is to sing. They had to have Eponine sing some songs, and they were about her unrequited love because that's what happens to her character. In the book, she does spend time bewailing Marius, but she also, at the risk of her own life, protects Cosette and Valjean from being robbed and probably murdered because of her love for Marius. And even though she lures Marius to the barricades, she ends up saving him and redeeming herself. That's partly the theme of Les Mis: redemption. Fantine is redeemed by her love for Cosette, Valjean is redeemed through the mercy of a Bishop, and Eponine is redeemed by her love for Marius.
    Wow, that was a really long comment. Sorry...I just had to defend Eponine. Great post, though- you made some very good points about Cosette.

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  13. Please stop hating either of the girls. Eponine is my favorite character by far followed by Fantine, but I don't hate Cosette really. I find her to be a character with potential that Hugo ruins by turning everything about Cosette's personality into something over Marius. Eponine has much more grit and is self sacrificing and whatnot and I adore her to bits especially due to the way Hugo writes her. She is the character that I would say is equal to having the importance of Fantine. I also don't usually hear people 'putting Eponine on a pedastal'. It's usually just a preference of character and that's fine. No, I Dreamed a Dream is not more important than On my Own and visa versa. It is a musical preference of the songs in the show. I've always seen Fantine and Eponine as being equal heroines honestly. Something I also don't understand about how some people hate Eponine so much is that she is the exact same character as Fantine. She was just Fantine before motherhood. They each grew up in the same conditions with no one to turn to and were treated as the dust of life. They each would go to extremes to protect and have those that they love. Fantine even had the same possessiveness over Cosette that Eponine held with Marius when you think about it. Cosette hardly knows her mother and can barely remember her. They are practically strangers to one another, and Fantine is bent on having Cosette again reguardless of the circumstances. For all Fantine knows, Cosette is lovely and happy and never wants to leave the Thenardiers, but that does not stop her from pursuing Cosette reguardless. Just something to think about. And honestly, I think the reason Cosette is seen unlikable by some people is because Marius blabbers on and on and makes really stupid decisions constantly, and eventually people are tired of hearing about her and their relationship is seen as annoying. I honestly don't really like the character Marius much at all. No normal person would react to having a girl you never gave notice to who just told you she was in love with you as she died in your arms and told you so much you didn't know by saying: Gee, I'll just go open this letter you gave me now. Thanks!, or when someone just lost all their friends in about two days and all they have to say is: Whatever, I'm getting married! and then never talks about his friends. That doesn't really make any sense... I know Marius is supposed to be based on a young Victor Hugo, so all I can say to that is Victor Hugo must have acted pretty damn stupid as a kid and wised with maturity.

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  14. Eponine is my favourite character in a musical, and I would argue that, in a way, she is more heroic than Fantine. But personally, I find Fantine dull - I don't hate her or anything, I just think that she is portrayed in a very sympathetic manner and you don't really get to know her. Eponine, at least, you see a lot of her personality. I don't hate Cosette either. I don't think she's a very interesting character, but I don't think that she and Marius don't deserve her or anything. Really, I think the reason that so many people elevate Eponine is because her story was extremely unfair, and people can connect to it, while Cosette had a happy ending and as an adult was rather dull.

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  15. I believe eponine was an amazing character. Everything you said about her is true except that you think she did not care about a better world she did! She played an important role and the story could not of had the some what happy ending it had... Also in the end when jon valjon died she was their in " heaven" I guess and at the barricade singing "do you hear the people sing" ... She didn't die just for her love of Marius she died because she wanted to see a better world ... It isn't her fault she was born into a family of criminals. I love cosset to I think she deserved everything she got, but the injustice here is that eponine deserved the same happy ending also.

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  16. Sorry if I made any grammar errors in the above.

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  17. may i just say that in the end cosette will not be able to make him happy. yeah they love each other but that's its there is more to marriage then love there friendship happiness knowing eaching other enough to know there pros and cons he say he "once he saw her he knew" how many time have you heard that please. and then you use the argument eponie was mean to her as a child or some shit like that or how thenardier didn't not love her. come on people knowing them do you really think they were going to love her , heck im surprised they loved eponie for that part of her life and maybe longer i mean. THATS NOT THERE KID. and don't say "any good person would have" NO ok stop right you have to take into consideration its freaking 16th Century France you get some kid that you don't know and you're getting payed to take care of and the mother is not around you most likely think "just got a free maid ". and also there kids im not sure there exact ages , but come on from what i've seen there pretty young duh she going act that way if epoines parents are treating cosette like that then she must think its ok to. and val juan takes her away and she l lives happily eponie has to stay there. and cosette is beautiful (most of time she can be very unattractive in some of the plays just say which is a HUGE disservice to her character) if her and marius didn't get together she would have gotten over and fonund her self another guy in the end eponine had eyes for him and him only. and eponie loved one guy for all thoes years come on one guy it became more then a crush she loved him ok and yeah yeah so did she but whats better a girl who would die to see you happy or a girl who sings to you between a fence. and yeah so did cosette but really thats not exactly love but hey i have to say both characters have there ups and downs but really cosette can be some very annoying but i still love her.and epoine can get a little old at time depending on who plays her but same with cosette. how can you not feel epoine pain i mean she trying so hard and i believe was very close and up out of no were this chick you've not seen for a while mind you she recognize and cosette dones no.t really like comes and steal you man form one little duet. i mean we have all that at one chick that just up And steals your guy. all and all both characters are awesome.

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  18. People saying that in the movie/musical Cosette is an airhead, spoiled brat, or underdeveloped are just stating facts. Even in the book Hugo spends like no time on developing her character as a teenager/adult. And he spends a LOT of time on developing Eponine's story/character. People will always be drawn more to round, dynamic characters. In the book Eponine is one of the most complex characters, probably second only to Jean Valjean. Cosette is probably the least developed of the main characters as we don't see any growth from her whatsoever past childhood. I don't really see how that it's hating on a character to say that we don't see much about Cosette about being something other than a prop for Marius and a conflict for Eponine. It's the truth. I personally find Eponine's story more interesting and engaging because she's not a flat character like Cosette.

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  19. I've not read Les Mis (I REALLY need to do that), but, from what I know of the book/musical, I kind of like Cosette and Eponine equally. I think they both have their own, unique "magic"--you know what I mean? Cosette is, like you said, the Cinderella of the story--sweet, humble, innocent, enduring a terrible childhood, and getting her reward in the end--while Eponine is the tough "street kid" who rises above her surroundings, sacrifices herself to save someone else, and eventually gets HER reward in the end (assuming she went to Heaven, which I firmly believe she did).

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  21. AMEN. I have thought all of these things but you articulated it so well. I will have to share this with people next time we get on the cosette vs. eponine topic

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