Instead of starting off with a more relatable quote, I feel like it would be more productive to introduce the character of Eponine to you. Don’t worry: I won’t bore you about the details of the poor beggars in France. This is about Eponine and how she plays a role in all of our lives. Watch closely and do not pay attention to what actors play who. The words, the music, the tone say a lot more than what you can say.
Eponine is a fictional character from the story of Les Miserables, who often goes unnoticed by both the characters in the story and the audience. Think of her as the girl in a love triangle who loves the man who loves another. Now, Les Miserables directly translates to “The Miserable” in English, meaning the whole story is about miserable people, generally poor people. This man she likes, Marius, pines after another young girl, Cosette, who is rich, like his own family. Eponine, however, is dirt poor, raised by dirt thieving parents, and pushed to the side.
The worst part is that none of this is her fault: she didn’t get to choose to have parents who bred off the life of thievery and she didn’t get to choose to be poor and dirty. It’s life. To some of us, life is handed to us on a golden plate. To the rest of us, life is handed to us on a dirty scrap of wood.
I want to talk about Eponine for a little bit, not because her life is so tragic, but because her life is way too realistic. Don’t take this literally; I am not referring to all of us sitting on the streets and asking people for money while we try to go after the love of our life. But have you ever felt like nothing ever goes your way no matter how hard you try to make it right? And it feels like the whole world is out to get you?
Sometimes, we can’t choose our paths, which can make our lives difficult. In Eponine’s case, her life was very difficult. She was raised to be a thief, but she’s humble and unselfish. When she prevented Cosette and Marius from meeting with each other, she regretted it and fixed it immediately after. She sacrificed her life for someone who didn’t even love her.
Here’s the question I have for you, though: would you sacrifice yourself for someone who you love but doesn’t love you back? I’ve been in that situation. You would be surprised how many girls like boys who have girlfriends. And that’s because those girls see why other girls find that boy attractive, explaining why he is taken: he’s smart, he’s sweet, whatever you find that’s appealing. So many times we throw ourselves at that boy, knowing that he will never love us back because he already loves another. But that doesn’t keep us from hoping.
That doesn’t keep us from hoping that our lives could change one day. To us, our lives are terrible and stressful and hormonal and annoying. You can try all you want. You can hope all you want for things to change, but that doesn’t mean it ever will.
And that’s the reason why Eponine is such an inspiration. Even though her life was full of darkness and despair, that tiny light of hope never blew out. That tiny light of hope kept some life in her awake, because even if she knew that she would never get what she wanted, she could still dream. She could never be with him, but because of that, it changed her and it taught her a lesson. I can’t spoil the lesson, because it will give the story away. All you need to know, though, was that she was on her own. Yes, being on her own was devastating; because of that, I believe that her story is one of the biggest impacts on Victor Hugo’s overall story of Les Miserable.
We can still despair, but we should never stop hoping.