BWW Review: Why LES MISERABLES Marius Pontmercy is the Worst
Les Misérables is one of my favorite musicals, but every time I watch it I just can't get past how much Marius annoys me - so obviously, I decided to rant about it.
Les Misérables is a timeless musical. Yes, I know it takes place during the French Revolution, but in terms of its themes and the messages it portrays it is a timeless musical. If you've never seen it, which I would highly recommend remedying immediately, the sung-through musical is based on Victor Hugo's classic novel of the same name. The story takes place in 19th century France and follows Jean Val Jean, who has just been released on parole after 19 years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread. (Yeah, a loaf of bread.) He decides to break parole to begin a new life of helping those less fortunate than himself and adopts an orphan, Cosette. Later in life Val Jean helps the rebels fight in Paris and one of them falls in "love" with Cosette. (Yes I put quotations around the word love but we'll get to that explanation in a minute.) He does this all while being hunted by the police inspector, who sorely needs a hobby, Javert. The musical is brimming with characters who exude themes such as love, redemption, courage, and fighting social injustices. All but one, that is.
Marius Pontmercy is a rich boy who likes to pretend that he's poor. He seems to think he's helping his friend, Enjorlas, plan a revolution when, in reality, all he does is complain about his girl problems. He sees a girl (Cosette) on the street from afar for half a second. Let me repeat that once more to drive the point home: half a second. He sees Cosette and suddenly thinks he is in love with her. (Now you understand why I used the quotations before.) Marius barely knows Cosette's name or anything about her, yet he begins to question everything in his life. He seriously considers ditching Enjorlas and the revolution for a girl he doesn't even know. He interrupts Enjorlas's revolution-planning meeting to sing about the color of desire and the color of despair:
Do I care if I should die
Now she goes across the sea?
Life without Cosette
Means nothing at all.
Would you weep, Cosette,
Should Marius fall?
Will you weep, Cosette,
Enjorlas is attempting to change the world and help the poor and Marius is only worried that Cosette won't weep for a guy she barely knows. After Enjorlas tells him to stop being a child Marius decides to stay and fight with the rebels. Once the fighting at the barricades begins, however, Marius gets knocked out quite quickly and dragged away by Jean Val Jean. He then proceeds to dramatically sing about how sad he is that, out of all of his friends, he is the only one who survived. Marius reunites with Cosette and they get married even though they still do not know each other at all.
I guess my point is that Les Misérables is a wonderful musical complete with colorful and courageous characters except for Marius Pontmercy. Marius Pontmercy is the absolute worst. He puts the miserable in Les Misérables.