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Did I see you in a limousine,
Flinging out the fish and the unleavened.
Turn the rich into wine,
Walk on the mean.
For the fallen are the virtuous among us,
Walk among us.
Never judge us,
Yeah we're all...
Up now and get 'em, boy,
Up now and get 'em, boy.
Drink to the devil and death at the doctors.
You Are the Word, the Word is Destroy:
A Discussion of Enjolras, Grantaire, Prophecy, and Wrath
Okay so I was supposed to do a meta for Thermidor (which is really just a thesisless rant about how Grantaire as a failed Robespierre and Enjolras as Saint-Just are the moST PAINFUL THING FUCK YOU HUGO) but I need to do more reading before I feel comfortable actually metaing about it, so here, have some meta on prophecy and history and my many feelings.
"You were made for this" — Grantaire as Prophet
Okay, so I’ve read some really good meta about Jehan as a sort of prophet (it was really, really good meta) and I also can never read “lessons on loving a prophet” without thinking of the snarly tangle that is e/R, so I started thinking about Grantaire’s purpose as Enjolras’s obverse and what that amounts to.
Because I have also read (I’m not exactly sure where) that Hugo uses Grantaire as a mouthpiece every now and again, and I know how much we all like to joke about how Hugo could probably use some “alone time” with Enjolras because wow, sir, overdoing it on the loving descriptions on that flaming-lion-angel-halo of hair much?
I think it’s really an interesting thing, though, and utterly perfect, given the dynamic and symbolism it carries — Enjolras says, “follow me,” and Grantaire does. Grantaire finds his only joy in the company of Les Amis, and “becomes someone once more” at the side of Enjolras. Combine that with the language used about and by Grantaire to describe his feelings for the man (Hugo says Grantaire “venerated” Enjolras, and the way Grantaire phrases “I believe in you” in the original French has the implication of a religious fervor), we have the basic setup for a martyr or prophet storyline.
But Grantaire fails. The one time he is called to act as emissary, the one time he says he can go prophesy to the people, he can’t do it. Because this is not a story where Saul becomes Paul or Simon becomes Peter.
(Interestingly enough I recently also read meta about how the structure of OFPD is meant to invert the Peter-denying-Christ-three-times thing in the bible, which is fascinating and wonderful thank you other meta-er)
This is a story that is both epically biblical and very much not. Ordinary people make themselves extraordinary, no one is purely good or purely evil (not even God or Providence), and everyone is both human and symbol.
Grantaire is a failed prophet, because the revolution has to fail — as Regina Spektor’s song “Samson” put it, better than I ever could, “Oh we couldn’t bring the columns down/No we couldn’t destroy a single one/And the history books forgot about us/And the bible didn’t mention us/The bible didn’t mention us/Not even once.”
And that, that’s exactly what Hugo wants. He’s not telling the histories of any of the things he goes on about at length — because who would? History is written by the winners, and the story he’s spinning is emphatically not about the winners. The goddamn title is The Wretched, for God’s sake!
So Grantaire is a prophet, and a failure, because not every messiah makes his way out of the gutter.
"Allow for the bleed" — Enjolras as Divinity