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moviemaniac

The people at the barricade died in vain

That's how I feel. That's the main problem I have with Les Miz. Their death didn't really accoplish anything with the storytelling. Whereas Tony's death in West Side Story ends the feud between the Jets and the Sharks and teaches them an important lesson about what hate can do to people. Does anyone have any thoughts whether or not the barricade people died in vain and why?
Eppie-Sue

Oh dear, the old "Turning"/"Where's that new world now the fighting's done?" problem.
First off - are we talking about the impression you get from the musical or from the book here?

... and do you seriously feel that every failed revolution for freedom, for human rights, for democracy, etc. was in vain? Even though the musical does a rather bad way of portraying the background of the June 1832 uprising and Hugo's view on it, it still conveys the message of "some day, some people are going to succeed doing what we were trying to achieve." Every failed revolution paved the way for that one revolution that succeeded - at last.

I'm not really in the mood to go on about the message and the problems with the musical and all, and I think there will be some people on here who can explain what I'm trying to say. But I have to quote that one line: "Citizens, whatever happens to-day, through our defeat as well as through our victory, it is a revolution that we are about to create." (Enjolras) because I think it stands for all the attempts, all the sacrifices that had to be made in order to change something and to make way for those that changed it. In that regard, they lost that one "battle", but at least they tried to win and they tried to overcome the hardships - and in the end, the "war" was won.
Orestes Fasting

I am so incredibly sick of explaining this that I'm not even going to go into it as deep as Eppie-Sue did. Yes, the musical handles it badly; yes, they included a lot of wailing about the futility of revolt and undermined their own message; yes, it is a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened in the book. But on some level, if you can't understand why people would sacrifice their lives to fight for freedom even if it doesn't accomplish anything immediate, simply because they can't sit back and do nothing in the face of injustice... if you can't, on some level, understand that that is not in vain, you probably won't ever understand it.

Some people might think it's cheap to take the words of somebody who's less than a month in her grave and use them in defense of a Broadway musical, but Les Mis is not just about France in 1832, and it's not just about monarchy, and it's not just about barricades. The struggle depicted there is not just a struggle of the past.

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If we do nothing while injustice abounds, we become unjust. We turn into the ones we hate.

I have to fight. I have to go back on the streets. I will make them kill me. I will join Neda, with my friends, and then maybe the world will hear us.

I never thought I would become a martyr, but it is needed. The more of us they kill, the smaller they become, the more strength the people will have. Maybe my death will mean nothing, but maybe it will buy my country freedom.


http://community.livejournal.com/metaquotes/7223552.html
Ulkis

Aside from Eppie's and Orestes' explanations, there's also the thing where the deaths don't have to mean anything in the musical. They can just be there to make you sad.

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Whereas Tony's death in West Side Story ends the feud between the Jets and the Sharks and teaches them an important lesson about what hate can do to people.


Does it? In the revival all of them are just standing around waiting for the cops to get to Tony's body. I mean, that's the message the movie and the original ending gives you, but even then, there's nothing to say they didn't go back to fighting. After all, they still fought after both Bernardo and Riff died. Plus, Anita never comes back onstage after her assault by the Jets. She's out there nursing a burning hatred of the Jets. I doubt she learned any lesson from Tony's death.
Vanessa20

This reminds me of some differences in acting from production to production that change the whole meaning of the Final Battle scene, or at least a significant part of it.

I think it's always been common for Grantaire to silently express anger at Gavroche's death. But in the old days of the 3rd National Tour and London in the early 2000s (not that I know for sure how common this was - I really only saw it a few times), I felt like he typically directed his anger at Enjolras, blaming him for the boy's death, and Enjy's unspoken response seemed like 'You were right all along... we're all gonna die in vain... Crying or Very sad But at least we'll die heroically!!... Mad etc.'

But in the revival, Michael Minarik made the moment feel totally different by saluting Enjolras with Gav's flag. He was just as angry as those past Grantaires I saw, but (rightfully) at the enemy, not at Enjy. It seemed like seeing Gavroche's death finally motivated him to join in the fight: he was the one transformed, not Enjolras. (Once again, though, I may be totally misinterpreting it - plenty of people here probably saw him more times than I did) That may not be any more true to Hugo than the first way, but I liked it - at least it felt more right in terms of the story's overall message.

Has anyone else ever noticed or given any thought to those different ways of playing the scene?
kemathenga

I'd quite like to SEE this scene for a start. It's not in the TAC, the only performance I saw (on dvd) so far. Is it in one of the shows available?
riverdawn

I think that in some sense, the deaths *are* meaningless, and that's part of the point.

I think part of the reason this is a beautifully complex piece of work is precisely because there is one side of you that says:

"Wow! These are noble young men who are genuinely fighting for freedom and for what is right, even though it's not necessarily their fight, considering most of them are rich young students who are not the ones suffering under the yolk of injustice."

And then, at the same time, there is also that wants to say "These deaths are absolutely meaningless. This uprising accomplished nothing, did nothing, furthered nothing." And in some sense, I think it's even sort of clear from the book that they have a fairly good comprehension of the fact that it's highly unlikely that this revolt will succeed.

And I think that it's not meant to be a simple message in the vein of either "well, their deaths were meaningful because they were fighting for a good cause" OR "well, death is meaningless". Rather, it's supposed to make you THINK, it's supposed to make you at once sense the horrible tragedy that is the death, especially of young people, especially in the service of a failed cause - and at the same time see the value in the fight nonetheless.

I don't know about other people here, but for me one of the things that have gotten me so fascinated with Les Miserables is *precisely* the fact that it is not a book, or a musical, that gives you easy simple messages that are clear cut. I mean, take Javert, for example. He is many things, but he is clearly not a traditional "villain". He is, for all his faults, presented as an inherently decent and good man. That's part of what makes the whole thing so darn interesting.

At any rate, I think it's also important to remember that Hugo's writing from a historical standpoint is fed both by the memory of the French Revolution (both the triumph of 1789 and the horrors of 1793) - and, at the same time, is actually looking forward into 1848. When he wrote the barricade parts of the book, 1848 had already taken place, so he could place the students on his barricade within a historical continuum of revolution and attempts at social justice that began with 1789, passed through 1830 (and through the failed revolts of 1832 that are the subject of the book) - but that continued in 1848 and to some extent was more successful at that point. And by 1848 this revolutionary tradition had ceased to merely be a French thing. It had "infected" all of Europe, with similar revolts, uprisings and revolutions taking place everywhere and having more or less impact depending on the location and the situation.
So there could, to some extent, be a sense that while there was no immediate result to the death on the barricade, the long term impact was there.
Vanessa20

kemathenga wrote:
Is it in one of the shows available?


It's the short section just before they all die, that ends with Enjolras singing "Let others RIIIISE..." etc.

Go on Youtube and type "Les Miserables Final Battle." You'll find at least one professional clip (from London with David Thaxton) and several from School Edition productions.
Eppie-Sue

This is kind of... similar to what I wrote in the London thread, but anyway.
I do love the current London production for many reasons, and one of them is the total lack of anyone blaming Enjolras for how the revolution turned out in The Final Battle. I was just trying to think of what the actual blocking is like, what with Grantaire, but, basically, what you get after Gavroche's death is some of the students looking shaken, some determined, there is a woman sobbing her heart out (grrr) and Grantaire sits and just... drinks, which earns him an Evil Stare from Enjolras.
No other interaction. And except for Joly, the poor dear, who kneels and cries "NOOO", there is only pure determination and ... everyone being responsible for their own death. Grantaire is not really part of the battle, I think (I'm not really looking at him there, to be honest), he jumps up when Marius, being shot, stumbles to the ground, and then there is the giant heartbreaking amount of E!/R slashiness and then Enjolras goes and dies and R chases after him as soon as he sees him waving the flag.

However, there is another moment which might be similar. Since the new season started, there has been the odd blocking that Grantaire snatches Eponine's head at his lines in DWM and holds it up for everyone to see, apparently blaming Enjolras. What you get as a response is R being stared down and put in his place, handing his bottle to E! in shame, then a hug and R stumbling away. That's it.

However, that scene can be put down to R being actually drunk. Because there is another moment where you could, potentially, have Grantaire blaming Enjolras, it's after ALFOR, when, in the London blocking, E! walks up to talk to Marius and R stands in his way. Some - I'm looking at you here Jeff... and it's also in last year's video with Keith Anthony Higham - shove Enjolras away, in a kind of "You've done enough damage" way, which is just... wrong for Grantaire, of all people, to do. So I adore how Martin Neely, who is playing Grantaire right now in London, just looks at David Thaxton with a kind of "It's all right, I can take care of this, you go and lead the revolution" look on his face when he kneels down next to Marius.

Long rant.
Monsieur D'Arque

So in essence, is the entire revolution intended by its masterminds as essentially a protest, a suicide mission to prove a point by their deaths?
riverdawn

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So in essence, is the entire revolution intended by its masterminds as essentially a protest, a suicide mission to prove a point by their deaths?



No. Not really.

First, it's not a "revolution". It doesn't get that far. It is a revolt, an insurrection of sorts. Also, it's worth keeping in mind the the Amis of the ABC are just a part of this insurrection. They are one group among many, and I'm not sure we get a lot of insight in the book into the structure and beliefs of the full movement (which doesn't seem to be very unified in any case).

Second, the instigators are *hoping* that it will, in fact, become a full scale revolution. They are hoping that because General Lamarque died, the people will be full of outrage, and will rise up to support the revolt and turn it into a full scale revolution of 1789 proportions (though of course with the hope of it being entirely successful this time, unlike '89). They see themselves as the triggers of a large scale popular revolution.
This fails to happen to any significant extent, which is part of the reason why the revolt ends so tragically.


Finally, however - while it is not their *intention* to go on a suicide mission, they are fully *willing* to make it a symbolic suicide mission.
They are willing to accept that even if the people don't join them, their deaths will nonetheless be worthwhile because they themselves will become symbols of freedom. So while this is not their initial intention, it is something that they do take into account.

[Well, actually, I think there is an argument to be made from the text of the book that Enjolras, for himself, has no intention of surviving the barricade even if the revolution is successful, but that's a whole other thread.]
Orestes Fasting

Okay. *takes a deep breath* I'm... not going to reply to most of this, because you all know my opinion already. I just want to address these two points:

riverdawn wrote:
I don't know about other people here, but for me one of the things that have gotten me so fascinated with Les Miserables is *precisely* the fact that it is not a book, or a musical, that gives you easy simple messages that are clear cut.


On the contrary, I'd say that Les Mis (the book, and to some extent the musical) is a fundamentally didactic work. The messages Hugo presents are not always simple, but they're extremely clear cut with little room for ambiguity. He's pretty much the master of the omniscient narrator making pronouncements from heaven, and the omniscient narrator describes the final assault on the barricade as though it were the Persians taking Thermopylae. No hint of "they died for nothing"; all the focus is on nobility, honor, dying for one's ideals.

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At any rate, I think it's also important to remember that Hugo's writing from a historical standpoint is fed both by the memory of the French Revolution (both the triumph of 1789 and the horrors of 1793) - and, at the same time, is actually looking forward into 1848. When he wrote the barricade parts of the book, 1848 had already taken place, so he could place the students on his barricade within a historical continuum of revolution and attempts at social justice that began with 1789, passed through 1830 (and through the failed revolts of 1832 that are the subject of the book) - but that continued in 1848 and to some extent was more successful at that point. And by 1848 this revolutionary tradition had ceased to merely be a French thing. It had "infected" all of Europe, with similar revolts, uprisings and revolutions taking place everywhere and having more or less impact depending on the location and the situation.
So there could, to some extent, be a sense that while there was no immediate result to the death on the barricade, the long term impact was there.


There are two big elephants in the room of historical context, and their names are both Napoleon.

For Hugo, the end of the Revolution's triumph was not 1793, but the rise of Napoleon. 93, to Hugo, is not the bloodthirsty undercurrent of the revolution revealed (which is more a trope of English historiography of the Revolution), but France in the crucible, a period that is awesome and terrible in the classic meanings of the words--inspiring awe and terror. Everyone on all sides is being put under tremendous pressure, and what emerges is a bunch of people boiled down to the essence of who they are, what they believe in, and what they will do to defend that. And that is a huge theme in Hugo's works--IMO if you want a better understanding of what he wrote about the students in Les Mis, read Ninety-Three. For Hugo, the Revolution ended when it was usurped by Napoleon, who at first seemed to embody all its ideals and quickly turned out to be in it for the glory, but not the liberty, of France.

The other big elephant in the room is Napoleon III. Circa 1848, Hugo was still fairly moderate, and his first drafts of Les Mis (from approximately that era) do not contain a particularly huge or glorious role for the student revolutionaries. But in 1851 Hugo tried and failed to lead an insurrection against Napoleon III's coup d'état, and spent the next two decades in exile writing vicious commentary against his regime. Les Mis contains some of that commentary, though it's obliquely stated, and IMO the 1851 insurrection was instrumental in changing Hugo's views about armed street revolt. Yes, he alludes to 1848, but all his views on the matter are thenceforth highly colored by the events of 1851.

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And in some sense, I think it's even sort of clear from the book that they have a fairly good comprehension of the fact that it's highly unlikely that this revolt will succeed.


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So in essence, is the entire revolution intended by its masterminds as essentially a protest, a suicide mission to prove a point by their deaths?


On the contrary, at the beginning they have every reason to believe they will succeed. City-wide popular uprising, following on the heels of a similar uprising two years ago that did manage to dethrone a king? What are they going to do, stay home?

However, after it becomes clear that the popular uprising has been suppressed and the entire army is against them, they do decide to "offer the protest of corpses," because once they're there they're not going to turn their backs on the fight.
l'ivrogne transfiguré

riverdawn wrote:
[Well, actually, I think there is an argument to be made from the text of the book that Enjolras, for himself, has no intention of surviving the barricade even if the revolution is successful, but that's a whole other thread.]


I've never thought of it like that - I'd be interested to hear what makes you say that.

Eppie-Sue wrote:
Grantaire is not really part of the battle, I think (I'm not really looking at him there, to be honest), he jumps up when Marius, being shot, stumbles to the ground, and then there is the giant heartbreaking amount of E!/R slashiness and then Enjolras goes and dies and R chases after him as soon as he sees him waving the flag.


I don't think Grantaire really even holds a gun at any point. He spends most of the fighting drinking and running around (I'm tempted to say like a headless chicken - I'm never quite sure what he's trying to acheive there). I think he might occasionally hand people stuff, and I think he might sometimes help people down from the barricade. He's generally around, but not fighting I think. Even when he follows Enjolras up the barricade at the end, he's not got any weapon or anything (except his bottle of course).
riverdawn

Thanks, Orestes Fasting, for that interesting analysis.

I admit that modern French history has never been one of my stronger suits, but yes, I agree that the Napoleons are very much present in the book. I was, of course, oversimplifying.

Also, I will say outright that I've read the book through once quickly, and I'm now going through it more in-depth and so I may be missing a lot of the more important political ideology etc.

As for the students awareness that there's a good chance it will fail, I was probably thinking of the later parts, although I *think* (again, I'll be able to say better after re-reading) that the idea of a glorious death as a potential outcome is there even at the earlier stages.

Finally, to the main point - yes, the book is absolutely didactic and makes a clear argument both politically and historically. That being said, however, I think it's analysis of human nature in terms of the actions of the characters is actually more complex than merely its didactic nature. At any rate, it could just be me reading my own views into the book, but I think that the descriptions of noble death etc. - while certainly reflecting Hugo's views and promoting the nobility of dying for one's ideals, nonetheless manage to also convey the tragedy and sadness of this moment.

I think, at least for me, I can sort of compare it to the end of "A Tale of Two Cities" [WARNING: spoiler ahead, if you haven't read it]:


When Carton dies in order to save the husband of the woman he loves, he says "'tis a far far better thing I do than I have ever done". It is very much a noble death - and yet you still get the sense of sadness and tragedy of it.




I got the same sense at the end of the barricade in Les Miserables. Again, could be just reading my own views into it, which I guess is what we all do with books anyway. Smile


About Enjolras not planning to survive - this could, again, just be my incomplete reading of the book - but I think, for example, that saying that he will get his judgement for executing Le Cabuc, suggests that he is "planning" to die. If I remember correctly, this is still quite early on. It happens before it becomes evident that the revolution will fail - and yet he already knows his "punishment".

And I think it may sort of make sense with his character.

After all, let's pretend for a moment that the uprising was widely successful, the people responded, and a new republic is formed. What's the next step? Knowing the French, it's probably setting up some form of provisional committee or representative body, and rewriting the constitution (again). And this process is always one that calls for a lot of arguing and debating and factions and to some extent some compromises etc. etc. - and I just don't see Enjolras there, you know?
I think (again, just my reading), that he would be considerably more comfortable as the Golden Martyr of the Republic, then one of the people sorting out all the details of a new order. I think that Courfeyrac and Combeferre are more cut out for that part.
kemathenga

ImhO dying is the only thing you can do successfully in a revolution.

I caught my "Les Miserablitis" from my daughter who did it a school. Music lessons. They didn't go much into the musical and not at all into the book. We are doing both at home now. We went through the revolutions which took place after 1832. Germany in 1848, Russia in 1917, China, Nicaragua, the student's movement from 1968 - we didn't find a single one that wasn't corrupted in the end. We didn't find a single one that did NOT fail from those who were living.

To me this is a problem. We both, my daughter (15) and I, rally to the call of Enjolras. We'd be happy to build a barricade right now, if only we knew for what cause and from where to take a spark of hope that it will not be in vain. After everything that happened in the about 150 years since Hugo I can't truthfully follow such a call.

But how can I not? What's the use of living if there's nothing more important than just going on and on and on for years and be afraid of getting Alzheimer eventually?

We are kind of religious so we can say there are still barricades to be build in our minds against intolerance and racism and things and there are many ways to die on them day by day. But still I think to SURVIVE a revolution is the worst case scenario for then you can only fail. Nothing is less futile than a death on a barricade for it may inspire others to try and find their ideals and try for them with all their might. Until they themselves fall or fail, of course.

I guess this may sound kind of morbid but it's really quite hopefully meant.
Very Happy
riverdawn

Well, kemathenga, I'm not sure that the what you say about revolutions always failing is, actually, true.

I mean, yes, if you expect the result of the revolution to be a perfect wonderful new world with no more problems, then all revolutions have failed, and must, by definition, fail.

Moreover, where revolutions succeeded and those who rose to power tried to create a total new world order, the results were always horrific (Stalin etc.).

However, all this being said, to some extent, the revolutions of the the 19th century did, eventually, reach some of their goals. For example, a major goal was the universalization of suffrage regardless of social class. This goal was reached, even if it did take some time (and more time if we want to include women's suffrage as well, though that wasn't necessarily on the mind of most of the revolutionaries of the time).
And while many of the goals were not achieved directly as a result of revolutionary action, it is quite possible that revolutionary action did have an effect on furthering these goals.

Which is not to say that I think we should all build barricades and go on a killing/suicide spree. Not in the least. But from a historical standpoint, I think it's kind of important not to forget the dramatic advances both in terms of social rights and in terms of the standard of living that were made in the Western world (and to some extent elsewhere, though sadly much less so), since the days of Les Miserables.

In 19th century Europe, it was still possible to, quite literally, starve to death because you simply did not have enough food to physically survive. It was the kind of world in which someone could, like Fantine, have to sell their teeth just in order to keep their child alive. Thankfully, in the Western world today this is no longer case. There are, of course, many many things that still need to be fixed and improved (not least of all the fact that these benefits are often limited only to the West), but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that we live in a dramatically improved world (in terms of people's welfare, chances of survival etc.) as compared with 150, 100, even 50 years ago.
kemathenga

You are right, riverdawn, and looking back at the nineteenth century especially I realize that we are living quite self-evidently from the success of those revolutions. There'd be no unions, no health insurances and no free education today if these revolutions really had failed.

Maybe it takes a century to look back to to discover where a revolution didn't fail. Maybe, we will be able to discover the benefits from more recent revolutions in some decades.

Still, people back in the 19th century were hoping for more than we have today. Isn't it hard and sometimes FEELS like failure to crouch for a giant leap and then find yourself advancing by crawling?

But thanks a lot for the reminder.

Very Happy
minarik

michael minarik here

So i put myself on google alerts and i got all these "grantaire" things pop up and I kinda wanted to respond to some people generally and why I made the choices I made in the Les Mis revival. sooo here goes:

When i was cast in June of 2007 (?) i had 2 weeks to learn the role and then make my bway debut on July 4th of that same year. I bought a copy of Les Mis and read the sucker (yes un-abridged) in 2 weeks so i could understand the enormity of what I was getting myself into. In that 2 weeks i realized something..well a few things..actually a lot of things. Namely, X was probably one of the smartest students there and knew at all moments exactly what was going on. He valued friendship above all else. He was at the cafe' because his friends were there. He ran around with his friends behind a cart cause his friends were there and he sat at that barricade because his friends were there and he did ALL this (in my head) because he was trying to protect them from certain death.

X knew this was a suicide mission. The student revolution is essentially like getting 20 NYU kids to barricade st marks place and hoping all the degenerates from Washington Square Park would rise up and fight the National Guard. Not gonna happen. X knew this BUT needed to stay close to his 3 best friends, Gavroche, Marius and Enjrolas at all times to make sure they stayed safe. Yes he was drunk but he was more aware than most (at least thats the way i played it). I sat with Gavroche down-stage left and tied a flag with him but all the while asking him "are you sure you wanna do this. I mean we can go play cards or wrestle instead" and the boys always wanted to go fight.

I used tactics to get them to stop but to no avail. I tried to make fun of marius in the cafe so i would get him to focus on that love instead of fighting. I tried to joke with Enjrolas to stop his focus and come back to getting girls and drinking..didn't work. Tactics tactics because X knows the end is dire. He gets it. he ISN"T A DRUNK bafoon he is a nihilist and a brilliant man. He knows the end is near and he would rather die with his friends than life an empty life without them. So he follows.

He watches them all closely at the barricade. Drink with me is one of his last tactics to try and tell them to surrender. He pleads with Enjrolas, "Will the world remember you WHEN (not if) you fall can it be your death means nothing at all"...x knows. One last tactic to try and go home. Max was amazing as he would whisper in my ear "i love you buddy but either fight with us or go home"> i would cry knowing my friend would be dead soon. it was heartbreaking for me on that stage.

Battle begins, Gav goes over to get bullets and i go nuts. TRYING to stop him pleading with him..one of my 3 best friends in the world just jumped over the wall...and died. I made an acting choice to fold up his flag and salute his death and while i do that my second best friend gets shot, marius..I don't know what to do..I scream at JVJ to not touch him and get the hell away..and the ONLY thing in my head is this. 2 of my 3 best friends are dead..(not knowing marius is just unconcious) and all i have left is Enjrolas. I have to get to him and take him away..I climb as fast as I can up the barricade, i slip and right when i am about to save him (i screamed his name in the show as i was about to touch him) he gets shot and dies. I pick up his flag like i did with Gav and wave it and die..but I die happy cause i am with him..and them..


Those were the choices I made. They are not right or wrong they are just what I felt on that stage. In the book X is sleeping through the whole fight and when he awakens he sees all theses guns pointed at his best friend and what does he do? He walks to him, holds Enjrolas's hand and dies with his friend. I tried to recreate that bond of love and friendship in les mis in my 4 months...I hope this makes sense.
thanks.
-minarik
kemathenga

It does, minarik, it makes a lot of sense and shows how much you cared for your character. But you know you're mixing the book and the musical, don't you? In the book Grantaire wasn't friend with Gavroche, never talked to him. Bahorel was the first student Gavroche took an interest into and I don't think Grantaire cared enough about life in general to want to protect his friends from a certain death.
The way Hugo describes the friendship between Grantaire and Enjolras - although love would be the better word, since Enjolras never was much of a friend to Grantaire, but that leads straight into slash-discussions - evidently evokes emotions and exchange of ideas in the audience of both book and musical and all these ideas(or the vast majority) are important and contribute to discussions a lot. But I still deem it important to distinguish between what we bring into the subject and what Hugo placed in it. And we must try to be aware when we are talking about ourselves and the things we want the characters to feel and do and what Hugo actually wrote. That doe snot mean one is inferior to the other, just different.
l'ivrogne transfiguré

Sorry to drag this old thread up again, but seeing the tour recently got me thinking about musical!Grantaire, specifically in relation to Enjolras, and then someone asked me why I liked Martin Neely so much which kept me thinking, and this seemed the best place to put my random thoughts. One day, if I'm bored enough, I may write something more structured about Enjolras/Grantaire as transferred from book to musical, but at the moment have some probably quite disconnected musings on the subject.

The people at the barricade died in vain. I don't agree with this for all the reasons people have already stated, neither do I think this is ever really suggested in the musical, and I don't want to rehash these arguments again. But I was wondering whether, in musicalverse, Grantaire does fit into this.

As I see it, the whole barricade thing for Grantaire is about Enjolras. It's not about what or whom they're fighting for, it's about Enjolras. (This is what I feel Martin Neely gets spot on and which many other Grantaires fall short of.) So in this context, what does his death achieve?

In the book, their deaths serve as the point of reconciliation. It is only in letting himself be killed with Enjolras that Grantaire is able to achieve any redemption. Musicalwise, he has effectively gained this in DWM, without death being a necessity. Indeed, on tour, there is not even the sense that he has done anything to deserve it - there is no equivalent moment to his handing over the bottle as is done in London. I read somewhere on the internet a while ago an interpretation of their book death scene which involved a sort of meeting halfway between the two. If I remember correctly it seemed to suggest that while Grantaire was to a certain extent elevated and redeemed, that much of the power of the moment came from Enjolras giving recognition to Grantaire and thus recognising the power of weakness. I don't see any of that. As far as I'm concerned, Enjolras' side of the relationship is pretty irrelevant, and definitely so when transferring this sort of scene to the musical. I cannot believe that Enjolras would accept anything less than what he is, and fighting at the barricades is definitely not the moment when he would do it. But I'm drifting and, er, rather lost the thread of what I was saying.

Basically, does Grantaire die 'in vain'? It is the death of Enjolras that causes him to enter the fray of the battle at all, and which therefore leads to his own death at the top. Perhaps then he does still, in a sense, die for and with Enjolras. But it doesn't have the effect produced by his death in the book, it is simply a way of finishing a relationship and killing a person who has already received the 'fulfilment' which ought to have been given him through his death.

EDIT: Sorry, this has to be one of the worst things I've ever posted. It doesn't make any sense, I'm not sure I've really said what I wanted to say at all, and there's nothing that hasn't been said a hundred times before. But oh well, make of it what you will. And I'd still like to hear any other thoughts on the matter.
Orestes Fasting

No, I actually think it makes a great deal of sense, and the subject of how the Enjolras-Grantaire relationship arc is transposed in the musical has been touched upon (especially in cast reviews) but never really explored.
kemathenga

l'ivrogne transfiguré wrote:


Basically, does Grantaire die 'in vain'?


In the book or in the musical? In the book I'd say it actually is his admiration for Enjolras that makes him stick with the revolution, for he comes forth with that word on his lips not Enjolras' name, for instance. And that's not a bad cause. I've seen quite a lot of revoutions which only made sense because they had a certain name and face to some people.

In the musical the character of Grantaire is mostly reduced to the drunkard in the background making puppy-eyes at Enjolras and opening doors for fourteen-year old slashy imaginations. Normally, I have very little patience with most of what I've seen on the internet, but I do like Martin Neely's interpretation (and told him so).

Still, what does Grantaire die for if not Enjolras and only Enjolras? In the musical he does not hide his contempt for the whole thing at all (which is all in character with the book), neither does he mix in the student's hymn for freedom (Red and Black), nor does he show any enthusiasm for the red flag. He doesn't identify with the symbols, so he doesn't identify with the revolution. But he still wants to be part of the whole thing, he wants to belong (that in the musical Enjolras accepts this longing in the scene after DYHTPS is, of course, different from the book, but, I guess, it's the only way to outline Grantaire's special admiration for Enjolras at all.)

So, if he dies for anything he dies for Belonging. He may have been suspicious of revolutions in general and this one in particular, but he was not suspicious of friendship and belonging, not even when it included dying. I don't want to make this sound too heroic. Grantaire isn't much of a hero, he just takes the consequences of his wish to belong. He really needs that more than air and alcohol - to belong.

I'd say it's not a bad thing to die for even if there will be people pointing out you have to be very careful where you want to belong. Still, I wouldn't be one to say wanting to belong to the wrong people or cause renders the deep necessity to belong bad or worthless.
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