Eponine is a character I have a special love for.
We first meet Eponine at the Thenardiers’ inn. The Thenardiers, who Cosette is lodging with, are Eponine’s parents. At the time the Thenardiers horribly abuse young Cosette while spoiling their daughter, Eponine. Eponine appears to be living in a loving family. The money that the Thenardiers receive from Fantine is used to spoil Eponine and is used to help the inn. At the time, their inn is in danger of going bankrupt. In the next scene, we learn that the Thenardiers are in fact pickpockets and we start to get an idea of the kind of environment Eponine is going to be growing up in. Soon after Valjean takes Cosette away, Eponine starts becoming horribly abused, neglected, lonely, and unloved.
This is when we start to get to know Eponine the most. The Thenardier family has become bankrupt and they are living in extreme poverty. They basically dragged Eponine into the criminal world and Eponine’s life has become even worse. In addition, Eponine has fallen in love with Marius unrequitedly. It becomes clear during the Robbery that Eponine does not want to get involved in her family’s schemes even though she is a Thenardier. She would rather be faithful to Marius than being involved with the schemes that her father and his gang are involved in.
For some reason, Eponine has not fully developed her parent’s ways, which might have something to do with Marius. Eponine is quite brave and despite being a Thenardier, she still is able to fall in love. She has never received love from anyone. In one scene, Eponine realizes that Marius has fallen in love with Cosette and that is where this love triangle comes from.
Eponine realizes that her life and Cosette’s life have literally switched places. She remembers Cosette. She realizes how much better Cosette’s life has become. Cosette is living in a loving family and is not living in extreme poverty. But with Eponine, she is living in extreme poverty and was dragged into the criminal world by her family. Cosette has fallen in love with Marius and Marius has fallen in love with Cosette. The switch that happened between Cosette and Eponine is very intriguing. It is one of the most interesting parts of Les Mis.
Marius does in fact ask Eponine to find Cosette for him because he knows she is streetwise due to her family’s schemes. She reluctantly agrees because she realizes it will make him happy. Throughout her entire story, everything she does is for Marius and it becomes clear how much she loves Marius despite the fact that Marius doesn’t love her. She risks her life several times for Marius.
Another time she does a favor for Marius is during the Attack at Rue Plumet. Marius and Cosette have just confessed their love for each other and Thenardier and his gang arrive and try to rob Valjean’s house. Out of love for Marius, Eponine stands up against her father and screams to alert Valjean. At this point, Thenardier basically disowns his daughter. Eponine is basically left to fend for herself on the streets. There is more to Eponine’s life than the unrequited love for Marius.
Considering how much she loves Marius, she disguises herself as a boy to join the revolutionaries at the barricades in order to assist Marius. Marius recognizes her and sends her away with a letter to Cosette. Eponine still cannot believe that Marius still cannot see that she loves him. In “On My Own”, it becomes clear to Eponine that Marius will never love her and she finally accepts the situation that she is currently in.
Previously (stage show), Valjean has warned Eponine not to return to the barricades, but she doesn’t listen. She returns just to tell Marius she did the favor for him. But as a consequence, she gets caught in the crossfire and becomes fatally wounded herself. Despite knowing that she is dying, she still has the strength to climb down the barricades to find Marius.
The first thing Marius asks is if she saw Cosette and this might seem like Marius is being a jerk to her, but he really isn’t. He has no clue that Eponine is dying from a gunshot wound especially because Eponine is hiding it from him. He soon finds out after she collapses in his arms. Marius tries to get help, but Eponine stops him. Eponine would rather die in Marius’ arms than die when it comes to the law. She is just happy that Marius is there. Marius is literally the only person in her life that has ever showed her kindness.
Marius is devastated that Eponine is dying because she means a lot to him and sees her as this little sister in a way. He thinks it is too soon for her to leave, but he decides to be compassionate to her till she dies. He offers her peace and comfort and stays brave for her till the end. Even Marius knew how dark and horrible her life truly was. After she dies, the first thing Marius says to the students is “Her name was Eponine. Her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. That shows how brave and fearless Eponine is despite how horrible her life was. The students decide to fight in her name because she was the first to die on the barricade.
Eponine is quite an interesting character. There are two things that are key to Eponine’s character. The first is that she belongs to the Thenardier family and the second is her love for Marius. You would think she would grow up to be just like her parents, which means to be selfish, greedy, and to even want to be involved in a life of thieving. But Eponine knows that her parent’s way of living is not right. That is one of the most interesting parts about Eponine is how she does not become like her parents and that is quite a miracle. I still think that has something to do with Marius. I think Eponine loves Marius so much because of the kindness that he shows her. He is the only person who does offer her kindness even though he doesn’t love her romantically, but he loves her like a friend.
She chooses to be faithful to Marius and that drives all of her actions in Les Mis, which might seem like one of her weaknesses, but in reality it actually is a strength. Her love for Marius is what keeps her thriving even though it eventually leads to her death on the barricades.
As a matter of fact, dying in Marius’ arms is the happiest moment of life. I don’t know why, but Eponine’s death is my favorite death scene in all of Les Mis. There is something special about “A Little Fall of Rain” and I feel devastated that one of my favorite characters is dying, but I also feel happy because I am seeing Eponine happy for once in her brief life. You do feel bad for Marius during that scene as well.
Next analysis is for the Thenardiers, Eponine’s parents.