|Les Misérables character|
|Created by||Victor Hugo|
|Family||Georges Pontmercy (father)|
|Relatives||Monsieur Gillenormand (grandfather)
Félix Tholomyès (father-in-law)
Marius Pontmercy (French pronunciation: [maʁjys pɔ̃mɛʁsi]) is a principal fictional character in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables. He is young, intense, and in love with Cosette. He fights at the barricades with Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC when Éponine tricks him into going to the barricade and (since he believes Cosette is lost to him) he resolves to die. As it turns out, Marius is the only one among the rebels at the barricade who does not die there (when Jean Valjean saves him).
- 1 Marius in the novel
- 2 Marius in the musical
- 3 Adaptations
- 4 Name and Pronunciation
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Marius in the novel
Marius and his father
Marius first appears in Volume 3 of Les Misérables, living with his rich grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand. Early on, he does not very much like his father, Colonel Georges Pontmercy, because he believes his father has abandoned him to his grandfather. In reality, his grandfather told his father that Marius would be disinherited if his father had any contact with him. Marius is ordered to write his father once a month, but his grandfather pockets all the replies without ever showing them to Marius. Shortly after Marius turns eighteen, Gillenormand tells him to visit the Colonel. Although he could have left that night and taken a public carriage straight there, Marius waits until the morning and takes two connecting public carriages to get there. He arrives seconds after his father's death. Marius isn't really bothered by the death, since he still believes that his father never wanted to see him and never bothered to write to him. Marius discovers a note written by his father instructing Marius to help Thénardier in any way possible, since the Colonel believes that Thénardier saved his life at the Battle of Waterloo.
While visiting church, Mabeuf, the church warden, tells Marius that his father has been coming to mass regularly, hiding behind a pillar so as to not violate the agreement and cause his son to be disinherited. Marius is strongly touched by this proof that it was actually his grandfather who had been keeping them apart. He starts looking up his father in the official military histories and after learning that his father was a highly decorated veteran, intrinsically involved in numerous wars in Napoleon's army and had been made a baron and a colonel by Napoleon Bonaparte, although neither the barony nor the rank of colonel is recognized by the current regime. As a consequence, Marius develops an idol-worship of his father. After an argument with his grandfather, Marius moves out and refuses financial assistance from his family. His grandfather instructs Marius' aunt to send Marius a good amount of money every month, but Marius always returns it. His aunt never reports this to Gillenormand.
The Friends of the ABC
Marius meets Courfeyrac, a fellow student, who introduces him to a society called the Friends of the ABC, a political society committed to social change. In the very first meeting that he has with them, Marius argues with Enjolras, an anti-Bonapartist republican, then leaves the group. Marius nevertheless remains on good terms with the group, especially Courfeyrac. Marius descends further into poverty and, despite all his hardships, manages to complete his studies and become a recognized lawyer. On Courfeyrac's advice, he learns German and English in order to work for a publisher translating manuscripts into French.
Valjean and Cosette
Marius regularly takes walks in the Luxembourg Gardens where he frequently sees Cosette and Jean Valjean. Out of the blue, he falls in love with her with a glance. One day, Valjean purposefully leaves a handkerchief inscribed with the initial "U.F."—Marius thinks that it must belong to Cosette and that her name must be Ursule. When Cosette sees him kissing it from their bench in the park, she gives him a puzzled expression. Eventually, Marius starts spending more time watching Cosette and eventually follows Valjean and Cosette home, where he asks their doorman about Cosette. Valjean learns of this and, fearing that Marius is a spy working for police inspector Javert, moves away that week.
Having not seen Cosette for months, and not knowing where she might have gone, Marius is tormented over trying to locate her. One early February day, he is passed by two ragged and barefooted young girls, (Éponine and Azelma) running away from the police. He recovers an envelope the girls have dropped. Back at his apartment, he examines the four letters it contains and realizes that they are fraudulent pleas for help, all in the same handwriting with the same misspellings, but containing different stories and signatures.
The next day, Éponine visits Marius, gives him a letter and begs for money. Upon reading it, he recognizes it is yet another in the series he read last night. Éponine tries to prove to Marius that she is literate by reading aloud from one of his books and writing "The 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 more information about her current life, that she had thought about drowning herself the previous winter and that she sometimes has hallucinations. Feeling sympathetic to her, Marius gives her his last five francs. She takes the money and thanks him.
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 talking with Jondrette about returning to give a donation. After Valjean and Cosette leave, Marius tries to follow them but doesn't have enough to pay for a cab (since he'd given five francs to Éponine and only had a few sous). 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, but only if he agrees to do something for her. Marius agrees that if she finds Cosette's address, he will give her whatever she wants. 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 Valjean. Jondrette reveals that his name is actually 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. Eventually, Marius throws the slip of paper Éponine had written on earlier (the one that said "The police are here") through a crack in the wall. Thénardier reads the note and recognizes Éponine’s handwriting immediately. The Thénardiers and Patron-Minette throw a rope ladder out the window and are about to flee when Javert (who had become tired of waiting for the pistol shots) intervenes and arrests them all, except Valjean who escapes through the window. Marius then moves out of the Gorbeau tenement, due to the violence he witnessed and also 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. Marius makes Éponine swear not to tell the address to her father, and she promises. She reminds Marius that he promised to give her something for finding the address. He hands her a five franc coin, but she lets it fall out of her hand, telling him she does not want his money. She then sadly leads him to the house. After spying on the house from the street for a few days, and leaving a diary (kept every day about his love for Cosette) on the bench in the garden, Marius finally jumps the fence and surprises Cosette in the dark. They end up professing their feelings for each other, sharing their first kiss, then learning each other's names. Their love blossoms for about six weeks, but Valjean shatters that bliss when he announces to Cosette that they will be leaving for England in a week. On one of Marius' visits with Cosette, while Éponine is preventing Thénardier, Patron-Minette and Brujon from robbing Valjean and Cosette’s house, Cosette tells Marius about the move, causing much distress for the pair. 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 because he loves and respects Cosette too much. Marius returns to Cosette’s house, but finds the house no longer occupied. Advised by a voice (Éponine) that his friends are waiting for him, he goes to the barricades that the Friends of the ABC have set up, deciding to fight with them.
A young whippersnapper, who is actually Éponine in disguise, places her hand and body in front of the musket of a soldier who attempts to fire at Marius. Marius does not notice this. As the troops get closer, Marius drives them away by holding a torch to a powder keg, and threatens to blow up the barricade. Marius goes to a smaller barricade to inspect, but finds it empty. As he returns to the other students, he hears a voice calling out to him. He sees that it is Éponine, lying on the ground fatally shot. She asks him that she lie on his knees, and he complies. Éponine then confesses to Marius that it was she who told him to go to the barricades, and saved his life because she wanted to die before him. She also tells him she has a letter for him, which she kept from him since the day before. She lets him take it so that he will not be angry at her about her keeping it from him "when we meet again so soon." She asks Marius to promise to kiss her on the forehead after she dies, which he agrees. With her last breath, Éponine confesses her love for him, and dies. He fulfills his promise and goes inside the tavern that the barricade is built around to read the letter (thinking it would have been inappropriate to read it beside her body). The letter is from Cosette and reveals her whereabouts and when she will leave for England. Marius writes a letter back to Cosette, saying since she left again with no forwarding address, he would fulfill his promise and die for her. He gives the letter to Gavroche, to deliver the next day to Cosette (thinking that this would get Gavroche out of the barricade before it was too late), but Gavroche delivers it that night to a "servant" at Cosette's address (who is actually Valjean). Valjean goes to the barricade to find Marius, and Marius sees him there. Meanwhile, Enjolras orders Javert's execution, and Valjean volunteers to do so. He takes Javert aside and a shot is heard. When Valjean returns alone, Marius thinks that Valjean really did kill Javert (Valjean actually saved him).
As the barricade falls, Marius has multiple head wounds and is shot in the collarbone. He falls back, but Valjean grabs him and carries him away from the soldiers, around a corner to the back part of the barricade. The only way out is through the sewers, so Valjean carries Marius for a few miles through the sewers, including a spot of deep quicksand. He gets to the outside gate, which is locked, and runs into Thénardier, who offers to go "halves" with Valjean (Thénardier believes that Valjean murdered Marius for his money and wants half of it). While looking through Marius' pockets, Thénardier secretly cuts a piece of Marius' jacket off. Valjean unlocks the gate and runs into Javert, who had been waiting to apprehend Thénardier. Valjean asks Javert to help him carry Marius home and Javert summons his carriage to take them to M. Gillenormand’s house. As it turns out, Marius is the only survivor from that particular barricade (there were other barricades in Paris at that time).
The wedding and afterwards
After six months of raging fever, Marius regains full consciousness. Gillenormand gives Marius permission to marry Cosette and the two men reconcile. Marius and Cosette are married on the 16th of February in 1833, and the wedding day is a happy one.
After the wedding, Valjean visits Marius and tells him his past. Marius, who had had a shaky relationship with Valjean before the wedding, but had accepted him as a father afterward, is horrified. Marius agrees with Valjean that it would be best if Valjean never sees Cosette again. Valjean wishes not to be permanently separated from Cosette, so Marius grants him one visit per evening. Marius starts to think of Valjean as a criminal, and slowly pushes Valjean out of Cosette’s life, with her best interests at heart. A few weeks later, a disguised Thénardier comes to Marius's residence to visit the Baron Gillenormand, attempting to blackmail Valjean. Marius sees through the disguise and asks what Thénardier wants. Thénardier tells Marius the proof about Valjean, that Valjean had earned all his money honestly (albeit under an assumed name) and that Javert committed suicide — Valjean did not kill Javert. Thénardier tries to convince Marius (whom Thénardier thinks is the Baron Gillenormand) that Valjean killed a man named Marius, related to the Baron Gillenormand, showing Marius the piece cut off the coat as proof. Pulling out the old bloodied coat that he had been saving in a safe, Marius accurately matches the piece of cloth to that of the coat he wore in the barricades and announces that he is the man who Valjean supposedly murdered. He then throws thousands of francs at Thénardier and orders him to leave France and travel to America (with a bank draft for 20,000 more francs, paying the debt to Thénardier that Marius' father believed he had). Realizing that Valjean had lived a completely honest life for years and that Valjean was his savior at the barricade and not a murderer, Marius and Cosette rush to reconcile with Valjean. They arrive at Valjean's and apologize just a few minutes before Valjean says he forgives them and dies.
Marius in the musical
Marius is a principal character in the stage musical based on the novel of the same name.
Differences in the musical
Marius' role in the musical is notably different.
- The musical omits the subplot involving Thénardier and Marius' father.
- In the musical, Éponine and Marius are established as friends. He mourns her death. In the novel, Marius pays little attention to Éponine, except to obtain her help in finding Cosette, but does express concern for her when she is shot.
- Marius' grandfather M. Gillenormand is omitted from the musical, as is Marius' early life.
- In the novel, Marius breaks with the ABC society 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, though Enjolras does admonish Marius for letting his romantic thoughts distract him from the revolutionary movement.
- In the novel, Marius' closest friend among the students is Courfeyrac. In the musical, he appears to be closer to Enjolras, and exchanges in teasing with Grantaire, although he still seems to be good friends with Courfeyrac as he is the first to notice Marius' dreamy appearance and asked what's wrong with him.
- Marius' political opinions play a larger role in the novel. He describes himself as a "Bonapartist democrat", which sets him in opposition to the rest of the ABC society, who are republicans. His Bonapartism is influenced by his devotion to his dead father.
- Marius does not resent Valjean as he does in the novel. Marius and Valjean also show a more sympathetic attitude toward each other in the musical, and Valjean seems genuinely concerned for Marius' life outside his relationship with Cosette.
- Marius' romance with Cosette progresses more rapidly, and it appears that he first sees Cosette, meets her, and prepares to leave for the barricade in the space of one day. In the novel, his feelings for Cosette develop more gradually, and he is separated from her for about six months before he finds her again. In both, he eventually is helplessly in love with her.
- Marius' motive for participating in the uprising (he cannot bear to live without Cosette) is the same as in the novel, but the musical does not mention the fact that he does not have enough money to follow Cosette to England. The musical focuses more on his heroic, loyal nature.
- Marius' lodging at the Gorbeau House is not mentioned in the musical and the scene in which he spies on the Jondrettes is omitted, but he is a witness when they try to rob Valjean.
- In the musical, when Valjean tells Marius of his past as a convict and that he must leave, lest he embarrass them at their wedding. Marius is shocked at his revelation, but, knowing that Valjean has done so much for Cosette, and that it would crush her if he were to suddenly leave, tries to persuade Valjean to stay. Eventually, he reluctantly accepts Valjean's decision, and agrees to Valjean's request that he never tell Cosette. In the novel, Marius is rather shrewd and cruel, saying that Valjean would only embarrass both Cosette and himself and tells him to go, granting him a little time with Cosette each night.
- In the musical Marius and Cosette visit the dying Valjean right after their wedding.
Since the original publication of Les Misérables in 1862, the character of Marius has been in a large number of adaptations in numerous types of media based on the novel, such as books, films, musicals, plays and games.
Name and Pronunciation
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