As we enter Golden Globes and Oscar season, Les Miserables is sure to score some awards. And well it should -- it's a well-made film filled with great performances (Anne Hathaway), good ones (Hugh Jackson, the guy who played Marius whose name I can't be bothered to Google) and flat-out terrible, why-did-they-cast-him-he-can't-even-sing performances (Russell Crowe). If, like me, you are a fan of the musical, you'll be happy. If not, then you can always sneak into another screening of The Hobbit. Watching the movie, though, it finally struck me -- Eponine, the poor girl whose love for Marius goes unrequited, is one of the most annoying characters in popular fiction.
"What's that, Eponine? You're dying? Sorry, I was thinking about how hot Cosette looked in that comically oversized hat. Do you think she 'like likes' me?"
Now before you rise up in protest like soot-covered French street urchins, let me explain. When I first saw Les Mis on stage back in high school during the late 1900s, I immediately crushed on Eponine. "That's me," I thought, while likely wearing a Miss Saigon t-shirt in the theater. (What? I was a theater nerd who got laid approximately never.) "I'm also always pining for girls and they never notice me. They always go for the dumb jock guys and then come crying to me when they get dumped. I'm always giving them advice and doing things for them just like Eponine does for Marius." Back then, I thought Eponine represented all of us nice gals and guys who are taken for granted by the ones we love. And Eponine was the most tragic of all -- she dies saving Marius' life. Not only does she take him to see his beloved Cosette, she dies so that he can live a happy life and make little French babies with the girl he fell in love with after seeing on the street for like thirty seconds.
After seeing the movie, I see Eponine for what she really is -- a lonely sadsack. Sure, Samantha Banks gives a good performance and has a lovely voice. But the character drove me up the wall. Why can't she profess her love for Marius? And if he doesn't return her feelings, why does she do everything for him? Why does she help him find Cosette? Oh, sure, she's a loyal friend. Well, if Marius was a good friend, he'd realize Eponine has feelings for him and not make her watch him court Cosette. But no -- the dude's just selfish. Eponine has a famous song ("On My Own") about how she's "all alone again" and how "the streets are full strangers" without Marius, She literally has nothing else going for her. Pull yourself together, gurl. What about Enjolras? He's swarthy and leads the revolution while Marius makes goo-goo eyes at Cosette. He probably built the barricade. It sure wasn't Marius.
And the relationship is SO one-sided. Even when Eponine dies, Marius never says he loves her. He treats her like a friend or, at best, a sister, the ENTIRE TIME. Instead, he's in love with the girl with no personality. "Typical. Nice people finish last," you're probably thinking. And I used to think that way. But now I just sit there thinking that Eponine should stop singing her sad songs, wipe the soot off her face and tell Marius that she's in love with, she's been in love with him for a long time and if he's smart he'll forget his silly crush on Cosette and her giant Little Bo Peep bonnets and run off with her to America or something. Little Gavroche doesn't sit around waiting for a happy life that involves plenty of food and regular baths to just fall in his lap. No, that filthy little street urchin gets out there on the battlefield and gets stuff done.
Devoting your life to the point of ruin to someone who doesn't return your feelings is not romantic. It's just sad. So this year, pledge to not be Eponine. Don't pine for the guy who is in love with someone else. If all he talks about is other girls, move on. He's not interested and while you (hopefully) won't end up taking a bullet for him during a revolution, you will get your heart broken. Be the Marius or the Cosette in your story, not the Eponine. She might get a great song, but she's singing it alone.
"On my owwwwwn! Because I can't express my feeelings to the dude I'm crushing on!"
Did you see Les Miserables? Are you an Eponine or a Cosette? (Hopefully you're not a Fantine. She had it rough!) Let me know!