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Name Marius Pontmercy
Sex Male
Age 21
Love Interest "Cosette"
Euphrasie Fauchelevent
Marius Pontmercy is a principal fictional character in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables. He is a rebel student who fights at the barricades with Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC. Marius is the only one among the rebel students who does not die at the barricades.

Novel

Marius and his Father

We first meet Marius in book three of Les Misérables, where he lives with his rich grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand. Early on, he does not very much like his father, Colonel Georges Pontmercy, because his grandfather had instilled dislike of his father in Marius all of his life. Shortly after Marius turns eighteen, Gillenormand tells him to visit his dying father. Unfortunately, Marius is too late to see his father, as he had died moments before Marius arrived. Marius discovers a note written by his father to him instructing him to help Thénardier in any way possible, the innkeeper having saved his father’s life at Battle of Waterloomarker. While visiting church, Mabeuf (the church warden) tells Marius that his father has been coming to mass every two or three months just to watch his son. Marius develops an idol-worship of his father and Napoleon Bonaparte. After an argument between him and M. Gillenormand, Marius moves out, refusing help from his family.

The reason why M. Gillenormand dislikes Marius’ father is that Marius’ father was an anonymous colonel in Napoleon’s army, and then lived in poverty, although Napoleon had made him a baron, and Monsieur Gillenormand is a well-off bourgeois, admitted in noble circles although not a noble himself, and a supporter of Louis Philippe. This is an image of the French restoration, and just as Victor Hugo did, Marius first follows his casual royalist convictions before finally coming to worship the ideas of the French Revolution and Bonapartism.

The Friends of the ABC

Marius meets Courfeyrac, a fellow student. Courfeyrac introduces him to a society called the Friends of the ABC, a political society believing heavily in social change. After an argument with the group's leader Enjolras, an anti-Bonapartist republican, Marius leaves the group.

Valjean and Cosette

Marius descends further into poverty. Marius sees Cosette and Jean Valjean one day in the Luxembourg Gardensmarker. He falls in love with Cosette and returns to the garden every day just to look at her. He thinks he has picked up Cosette's hankerchief, and treasures it. When Cosette sees him kissing it from their bench in the park, she gives him a puzzled expression. It had the initials "U.F." inscribed on it, causing Marius to think of her as "Ursula." However, the Handkerchief was actually Jean Valjean's.

He follows Valjean and Cosette home and asks the doorman about Cosette. However, a week later, Marius learns that the two have moved away and their visits to the gardens have stopped.

Éponine

Having not seen Cosette for months, Marius is tormented over trying to locate her. On one early February day, he is passed by two ragged and barefooted young girls (Éponine and Azelma) running away from the police. He discovers an envelope dropped by the girls and takes it back to his apartment. He examines the four letters and realizes that even though each letter is from four different people, the handwriting and the stationery are the same.

The next day, Marius is visited by Éponine at his apartment to beg for money, and gives him a letter. As he reads the letter, he discovers the handwriting and paper is also identical as the four letters he read the previous night. Éponine then tries to impress Marius by proving she is literate by reading aloud from one of his books and writing "The cognes (police) are here" on a sheet of paper. She then tells Marius that he is handsome, and also mentions that she has noticed him a number of times before. Changing the subject, Marius hands her back the packet of letters, and she happily takes them. She then reveals to Marius about her current life, her thought about drowning herself the previous winter and having hallucinations. Feeling sympathy toward her, he gives her his last five francs. She takes the money and thanks him in the argot slang.

The Attack at Gorbeau House

After Éponine exits Marius' apartment, he takes interest in her family, the Jondrettes (who are also his neighbors). Peering through a crack in the wall, Marius sees Valjean and Cosette discussing with Jondrette about a donation towards him. After Valjean and Cosette leave, Marius tries to follow them but is unable to pay for a cab (he had given Éponine his last five francs). He sullenly returns to his room, only for Éponine to stop him at his door. Noticing his petulant mood, she asks him if she can assist him in any way. Marius then asks her to find Valjean and Cosette's address. Realizing that Marius has an interest in Cosette, Éponine reluctantly agrees to find it. After she leaves, Marius overhears Jondrette talking about killing Valjean. Distressed, Marius visits Javert, who gives him two pistols and instructs him to fire them when the robbery reaches its peak.

When Valjean returns to Jondrette’s house, Jondrette and Patron-Minette attack and bind him. Jondrette reveals that his name is Thénardier, a fact that shocks Marius. He does not want Valjean to die, but does not want to betray the man that "saved" his father at Waterloo. He also knows that the Gorbeau tenement where he lives is practically soundproof and that Javert would never hear him firing the pistols. Marius throws the slip of paper Éponine had wrote on earlier through a crack in the wall. Thénardier reads the note and recognizes Éponine’s handwriting immediately. The Thénardiers and Patron-Minette try to escape when Javert intervenes and arrests them all (except Valjean who escapes through a window). Marius then moves out of the Gorbeau tenement due to the violence he witnessed and so that he cannot testify against Thénardier.

Marius and Cosette

After her release from prison, Éponine finds Marius in a park called "The Field of the Lark." She tells him she found Cosette's address and leads him to the house. After spying on Cosette for a few days, the two finally meet. They profess their feelings for each other, share their first kiss and learn each others' names. Their love blossoms for about six weeks, but Valjean shatters that bliss when he announces that he and Cosette will leave for England in a week. Marius goes to Gillenormand to try to reconcile and to get permission to marry Cosette. However, after Gillenormand suggests that Marius make Cosette his mistress, Marius storms out of the house, insulted. Marius returns to Cosette’s house, but finds the house no longer occupied. Advised by a voice (Éponine), he goes to the barricades the Friends of the ABC set up, now wanting to die.

The Barricades

Marius drives away troops by threatening to blow up the barricade. A young boy, who is Éponine in disguise, saves Marius’ life by placing her hand and body in front of the musket of a soldier who was about to shoot him. As she lies dying, she confesses to Marius that it was she who told him to go to the barricades, and hands him a letter from Cosette. She asks Marius to kiss her on the forehead after she dies. He fulfills his promise and then promptly reads the letter. The letter reveals Cosette’s whereabouts. Marius writes her one back, saying that he will die on the barricades. He gives it to Gavroche to deliver to Cosette.

Rescue

As the barricade falls, Marius has multiple head wounds and is shot in the collarbone. He faints, but Valjean saves him. Valjean descends into the sewers, carrying Marius. Thénardier holds the key to let Valjean out of the sewer. Demanding money, he gives Valjean the key but rips off a piece of Marius’ jacket. Valjean takes Marius to Gillenormand’s house.

The Wedding and Afterwards

After six months of raging fever, Marius regains consciousness. Gillenormand gives Marius permission to marry Cosette and the two men reconcile. The wedding day is a happy one.

After the wedding, Valjean visits Marius and tells him his past. Shocked, Marius and Valjean agree that it would be best if Valjean never sees Cosette again. Valjean wishes not to be permanently separated from Cosette, so Marius grants him to visit every evening. Marius starts to think of Valjean as a criminal. Marius slowly pushes Valjean out of Cosette’s life. A few weeks later, a disguised Thénardier visits Marius attempting to blackmail Valjean. Marius sees through the disguise and asks what Thénardier wants. Thénardier tries to convince Marius that Valjean killed a man, showing Marius a piece of his coat as proof. Pulling out his bloodied coat, Marius throws a bag of money at Thénardier and orders him to leave France and travel to America. Realizing that Valjean saved him at the barricades, Marius and Cosette visit him. The three make their peace as Valjean dies.

Musical

Marius is featured in the stage musical of the same name and is one of the major characters in it.

Differences in the musical

Marius' role in the musical is notably different.

  • The subplot involving Thénardier and Marius’ father is left out of the musical (even though it is mentioned that Thénardier was at "the field of Waterloo," where in the novel he met Marius’ father). Therefore, Marius has no need to try to help the Thénardiers, (beside Éponine) to fulfil his father's debt.


  • Marius is depicted as a more sympathetic character, while his character in the novel was described as rather stern and cold.


  • In the musical, Éponine is a friend of his, and he seems to genuinely appreciate her as a friend. In the novel, he was usually too consumed by thoughts of Cosette to pay much attention to Éponine except to give her money and to find Cosette for him.


  • Marius’ grandfather M. Gillenormand is left out of the musical and no references to Marius’ early life are made, as he is already a student and a member of the Friends of the ABC when he is first introduced.


  • In the novel, Marius breaks with the ABC after only a few meetings, and he and Enjolras do not get along until Marius saves the barricade by threatening to blow it up with a gunpowder keg. In the musical, Marius and Enjolras are depicted as friends, and the "powder keg" incident never occurs, though Enjolras does admonish Marius about letting his romantic thoughts distract him from planning the revolution.


  • Marius is a much flatter character in the musical, portrayed as much more of the stereotypical young man in love. In the novel, he does have very stiff morals, but those provide a very good background for comparison between his love and his kindness.


  • In the novel, Marius is very good friends with Courfeyrac. In the musical, he is more close with Enjolras.


  • Marius' political opinions are quite more defined in the novel, not just that he "fought at the barricade." His opinions are once again fueled by love: by love and respect for his dead father. In the musical, he seems to spend time with that crowd and fight at the barricade only because of his wish for a revolution and the idea that Cosette is going away.


  • Marius does not dislike Valjean like he does in the novel, even though he still tells Éponine when he asks her to find Cosette’s house to not let her (Cosette’s) father know that he is trying to find the house, showing that he is still wary of Valjean. Marius and Valjean also show a much more sympathetic attitude toward each other in the musical, and Valjean also seems genuinely concerned about Marius' life and not just Cosette.


  • Marius' romance with Cosette progresses much more quickly, and it's suggested that he first sees Cosette, meets her, and prepares to leave for the barricade all in the same day. This depicts him as much more shallow than his character in the novel, in which he (more slowly) falls for Cosette and is separated from her for about six months before he finds her again. This tests his devotion to her, whereas in the musical he seems to be attracted to her beauty. By the end of the day he has decided that he cannot live without her.


  • Marius’s motives for joining the students’ revolt (He sees no point in living without Cosette) are the same as in the novel, but without the added motivation of the fact that he does not have enough money to follow Cosette to England. The musical shows him actively debating between following Cosette or joining his "brothers," whereas in the novel, his relationship with Cosette is much more important to him than any revolution.


  • Marius does not live in the Gorbeau House in the musical and does not spy on the Jondrettes (Thénardiers), but he is a witness when they try to rob Valjean (see song list for information).


Songs

Marius is featured in the following songs in the musical:

  • Look Down — Marius along with Enjolras shows hatred for how the government treats the poor of Paris and says that General Lamarque is the only man in the government who "speaks" for the poor.
  • The Robbery/Javert's Intervention — Marius talks with Éponine in the street and becomes suspicious of her father Thénardier who is trying to con people out of money. He asks Éponine what he’s doing but she runs away. When he tries to chase her he runs into Cosette and instantly falls in love with her. Thénardier suddenly recognizes Valjean and he and his gang attack him. The attack stops when Éponine shouts out that Javert is coming. Javert enters and saves Valjean, not knowing who he is. When Javert asks "Was there a witness to this?" Marius is the one who steps forward, but does not say anything.
  • Éponine’s Errand — Marius tells Éponine, who is in love with him, to find Cosette for him. He offers her money to do so, but refuses it.
  • ABC Café/Red and Black — Enjolras and the other students make their plans for a revolt against the government, Marius shows up late for the meeting and the students soon find out that he is in love. When Grantaire sings the colors "Red" and "Black," Marius sings of his desire for Cosette and his despair if he can not have her. Eventually Enjolras tells him he is no longer a child and that they have to think of the revolt
  • In My Life — Éponine leads Marius to Cosette’s house. Marius sings of his love for Cosette.
  • A Heart Full Of Love — Marius enters Cosette’s garden and the two admit their love for one another while Éponine sings of her love for Marius.
  • The Attack On Rue Plumet — Éponine’s father gathers his gang again to attack Valjean’s house, but Éponine screams, scaring them away. Marius rushes out of the garden followed by Cosette. He realizes it was Éponine who saved them all then he hears Valjean coming and runs into hiding.
  • One Day More — This song is sung by all the characters in the show. In Marius' part, he sings with Cosette about how they will be parted, then he sings of whether or not he should join the other students at the barricade. In the end, with Éponine's persuasion, he decides he should join them. Marius' role in this song is the largest, and perhaps the most pivotal because he's the only character who has to choose his position in the revolution.
  • At The Barricades — Marius sees Éponine disguised as a boy among the students as they plan to build their barricades. He gives her a letter to hand to Cosette in which he says goodbye to her and declares his love once again. The letter ends up in Valjean's hands, and he tells Éponine that Cosette will read the letter.
  • A Little Fall Of Rain — Éponine returns to the barricade and is shot by the attacking government troops. She dies happily in Marius’ arms after she tells him that she delivered the letter to Valjean. Marius prays Éponine will stay alive but in the end he realizes that she is dying and he tells her that he will stay with her till she is "sleeping."
  • Night Of Anguish — Marius tells Enjolras about Éponine after Enjolars sees Marius holding her dead body. Enjolras, Courfeyrac and Feuilly comfort Marius and tell him they will fight at the barricades in her name.
  • The First Attack (silent) — Marius is one of the students fighting in the attack.
  • Drink With Me — The students rest for the night and sing of their old lives, while Marius decides that he might as well die at the barricades now that Cosette is gone from his life.
  • Bring Him Home (silent) — This song is a solo by Valjean, who is at the barricades to save Marius after reading his letter. While Marius sleeps, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from being killed.
  • The Second Attack — The students are running low on bullets. Marius offers to go out into the streets and get some from the dead army officers’ bodies, but Enjolras refuses to let him go, saying there’s too much of a chance that he’ll be killed, supported by Valjean, who offers to go instead. In the end the street urchin Gavroche goes and he gets shot by the army troops.
  • The Final Battle (silent) — Marius is shot only wounded in the students’ final battle with the government troops. All the other students die; only Valjean remains conscious. He realizes Marius is still alive and brings him into the sewers to try to bring him away from the battle field to a doctor.
  • Empty Chairs At Empty Tables — Marius is recovering from his wounds but he still deeply misses his friends. He returns to the now empty ABC café and sings of how he feels guilty that he’s the only one living out of the students.
  • Everyday — Cosette tells Marius that she will never leave his side and that he is getting through his injuries while Marius wonders who brought him from the barricade.
  • A Heart Full Of Love — Marius and Cosette sing of their love for each other while Valjean sings of how he could have never kept Cosette for himself and how Cosette and Marius deserve to be happy together.
  • Valjean’s Confession — Valjean tells Marius that he is a convict who stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s child from starvation, and that he must leave for if he is caught it would be embarrassing for Cosette, whom he never told because she had enough of tears. Marius tries to get him to stay, saying whatever he tells Cosette she will not believe. Valjean tells Marius to tell her he’s gone on a journey "a long way away" and that his heart is too full for farewells. Finally Valjean makes Marius swear he will keep his promise; Marius does and says for the sake of Cosette it must be this way.
  • The Wedding Chorale — Marius and Cosette are married but their celebration is cut short when Thénardier and Madame Thénardier show up and try to blackmail Marius. Thénardier claims that Valjean is a murderer and as proof shows Marius the ring he stole from him. Marius realizes it his own ring and realizes that Valjean saved him from the barricades. In anger he punches Thénardier and then leaves with Cosette to find Valjean.
  • Epilogue — Marius and Cosette find Valjean, who is dying. Marius asks Valjean to forgive him for being thankless as he explains to Cosette that it was Valjean who saved him from the barricades. After that Valjean is taken up to heaven by the spirits of Fantine and Éponine.
  • Do You Hear The People Sing? — This reprise is sung by the entire company (except Javert and the Thénardiers).


Adaptations

Actor Version
Gabriel de Gravone 1913 Adaptation
Harry Spingler 1917 Adaptation
François Rozet 1925 Adaptation
Jean Servais 1934 Adaptation
John Beal 1935 Adaptation
Cameron Mitchell 1952 Adaptation
Giani Esposito 1958 Adaptation
François Marthouret 1972 Adaptation
Christopher Guard 1978 Adaptation
Frank David 1982 Adaptation
Carlos Marin 1992 Original Madrid Cast
Michael Ball 1985 London Musical
1995 Concert
David Bryant 1987 Broadway Musical
Hans Matheson 1998 Adaptation
Enrico Lo Verso 2000 Adaptation
Adam Jacobs 2006 Broadway Revival
Gary Watson 2007-2008 London Production
Carl Poliquin 2008 Quebec City Production
Jon Robyns 2008-2009 London Production
Alistair Brammer Current London Production


External links




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