Know Your Foe #6: Marius Pontmercy

Cosette

I've trash talked spoilers in the past so here's the heads up. Don't read this if you plan on enjoying Robotech and do not want to be partial to things that happen in that show. You’ve been warned! If you live in a cave and don’t know the story of Les Mis then you shouldn’t even be reading this blog or sitting at a computer or phone. You should be seeing Les Mis. Then seeing it again. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Seen it twice now? Excellent, let us begin. Today’s discussion is about the apparent flakiness of one Marius Pontmercy. I’ve seen the show a couple of times. Maybe a couple more than that. I’m a rather huge fan. I never saw the movie because I saw about ten seconds of Russell Crowe singing the classic Confrontation song and it smashed my heart into pieces. As a side note to all of this, did anyone before me stop to ask why the hell they thought putting big names in key roles was more important than determining if they could even sing? What the fuck was that? I’m getting off track here, though, and we’ll let that go for now. Back to the subject at hand.

Marius, you flake, what's wrong today? You look as if you've seen a waif. Some whine and say what's going on.

Marius, you flake, what’s wrong today? You look as if you’ve seen a waif. Some whine and say what’s going on.

Marius is a well-to-do young man in France during some of the hardest of times. He has access to plenty of money but will not take it because of family problems with his douchebag grandfather. Instead he lives amongst the poor, starving with them and trying to understand their plight. You might wonder why he doesn’t take the money from his grandfather and give it to the poor people around him, but that’s a silly question. Marius, you see, only thinks about Marius. He wants to show that he doesn’t need the money so he’ll just send it back to his rich family. That’s how you make things better for the poor: by giving up everything and starving with them. The people around him who froze to death, the very ones he could have been saving with that money and not spending any on himself, froze to death a little bit slower because Marius was out there with them. That was his impact on the community and the victory won by his selfish morals. It doesn’t stop there, though.

Somehow, Eponine falls for Marius and threatens to inject some kind of relevance in his life. He might actually do something useful if she gets her way. She goes out of her way to make it clear to him that he means something to her and that she could actually pull herself together if she had someone like him, anyone really, to care for her. She’s got charm and determination and she can fend for herself in some of the harshest of conditions. She would do anything for him, she goes out of her way to let him know about it, she’s got character and personality to the nth degree and to hell with all that. Cosette, Queen of the Waifs, takes up space and is taken care of all her life. Her biggest concern is she doesn’t know where she came from because she’s too stupid to remember life when she was five. I can remember things that happened when I was three years old. Airhead, though, is just a whiney song stuck on repeat and Marius just can’t get enough of it. He just eats that shit up. A useless, flavourless waif? Perfect! When he asks Eponine to do things for him to help with Cosette (yeah. Dickface here gets the girl with a huge crush on him to be his wingman) and promises he will give her something in return (you can read into that whatever what you please) he tries to give her money. Because she’s poor, see, and what do poor people want except money? Cosette, meanwhile, has done nothing for him except tell him to shut up (“Cosette, I don’t know what to say” “Then make no sound”) and cried about how she doesn’t know who she is.

Ack! Another girl with substance! Shoot her! Quick!

Ack! Another girl with substance! Shoot her! Quick!

The other male leads in Les Mis are all strong characters who believe in things and go after them with passion and determination. Valjean may have been a criminal, but for good reasons and his crimes didn’t amount to much. He still turns that around and becomes a respected businessperson, taking care of a young waif who mostly whines about him not wanting to drag his past into the light when even the suggestion of it is dangerous to not only him but to herself as well. He is given the chance to kill the only person who knows who he really is, the only thing that ties him to the person he was, and instead he spares his life. Said person, Javert, is also a very compassionate person with strong beliefs. He was born at the very bottom of the barrel and managed to work his way up to a very respected member of the police. His dedication to tracking down people who break the law, which he equates with God’s law, and seeing that they get the punishment they need to put things right. You can crack the system he’s supporting but you can’t knock his methods or his determination. Enjolras himself is wise enough not to care about Marius’ lonely soul. He said it himself: we strive towards a larger goal. He is more striking than Marius, as a character, because his romantic, idealistic view of what the world could be compels him to try to make a difference. All of these are people who consider the people around them and the overall picture. Marius looks as far as Cosette’s appearance and he’s too zoned out to do anything right.

He ultimately picks Cosette over Eponine, which I have always struggled with but I have ultimately come to enjoy that struggle, but he ultimately gives up on her as well to fight at the barricade with his friends. You get the feeling that he got talked into it and he felt like he’d be a dick if he turned his friends down and he can’t think of a good excuse so he shows up and does next to nothing. He’s only saved by Valjean, who knows Marius is a disaster waiting to happen. In the entirety of the show, Marius accomplishes nothing, shy of falling for the wrong girl and marrying her. Since he is passionate about nothing but a girl’s appearance, this is about the only thing you can expect him to accomplish. He stomps on the hearts of people who actually care about him and work harder to do one thing for him than other people do in their entire life. Eponine dies to protect him and make sure he gets the letter from the Countess of Whine (you can argue that he’s there because she held the letter for a while, but if you really hold it against her and think that you’d even hand the letter over after waiting a day then more power to you) and he moves along with his life right away. What kind of a living rock are we talking about? He walks around with his head in the clouds and doesn’t open his eyes a single time. I would not object to having him portrayed by Keanu Reeves, as he seems to be in the same state a fair amount of the time. “Woah, thanks for saving me Valjean-dude.”

I love Les Mis and I always will. I do consider it to be a romance, as most people do, just I consider it a romantic tragedy whereas most people think it’s a romantic success story. We can take cold comfort in the fact that Eponine would have ultimately come to realize that he was a fool and would have been better served entering a convent or getting shot protecting a moron. Maybe she received profound understanding in that final moment and was able to laugh to herself as she drifted off to her ultimate destination. All of that worry and strife for a cosmic joke. I think she had it in her. She, herself, is a stranger character than he is. There are a great many people to learn things from and look up to in that story, just don’t ever make the mistake of picking Marius as one of them. I leave you with the fourth entry for the definition of Flake from my good friends at Dictionary.com

4. Slang. an eccentric person; screwball.

Need I say more?

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