Characters: Les Misérables
A listing of characters from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables
and their associated tropes. Note that the novel was published in 1862 and thus qualifies for Spoilers Off
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Jean Valjean/Mayor Madeleine/Ultime Fauchelevent
The lead character, a convict who spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread and repeatedly trying to escape. After getting his parole ticket, Valjean steals two candlesticks from the Bishop of Digne but is allowed to take them with the promise he uses them to make something of his life. Several years on, Valjean becomes the guardian of young Cosette after making a promise to her mother Fantine.
- Actual Pacifist: In the book, Valjean actively refuses to fight or physically hurt anyone after his encounter with the bishop (even Javert, Thenardier, and everyone on both sides of the barricades). (In the musical and many other adaptations, he is only a technical pacifist.)
- Anonymous Benefactor: One of M Madeleine's pastimes apparently involves breaking into other people's houses – and leaving some money there. At some point, the citizens catch on, and it's no longer anonymous.
- The Atoner: After his encounter with the Bishop, Valjean spends the rest of his life trying to make up for his criminal past.
- Badass Bookworm: He becomes exceedingly well-read in his later years. He thinks of books as "cold but sure friends."
- Badass Grandpa: Aging hardly diminishes his Super Strength — he's in his fifties by the time he adopts Cosette, a rescue that involves plenty of running through Paris and wall-climbing. His strength does go near the end of the story, however.
- Being Good Sucks: Repeatedly sacrifices his own happiness to do what's right, whether it's denouncing himself to prevent an innocent man from going to prison in his place, saving the man his daughter loves even though it means he'll lose her, or confessing his criminal past to Marius and withdrawing from Cosette's life for her protection.
- Broken Ace: As Madeleine, he is the wealthiest and most beloved man in town. Little do people know of his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Buried Alive: Happens to him to get in the convent.
- But Now I Must Go: In the musical, Valjean leaves Cosette so his past doesn't taint her marriage to Marius.
- Chaste Hero: The book mentions that he has never fallen in love with a woman in his life.
- Chronic Villainy: Valjean robbed a boy out of habit even though the Bishop's silver is worth more money than he ever dreamed. The realization that he enjoys theft horrified him and convinced him to turn his life around.
- Consummate Liar: In a way, coupled with his Messiah tendencies. He becomes a successful town mayor for eight years and lives with Cosette for another nine without anybody (save Javert) suspecting it's all an alias and he was an ex-convict.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: Played with. Champmathieu is also an ex-convict, but unfortunately for everyone involved, he is mistaken for Valjean.
- Death by Despair: Valjean takes to his deathbed when Marius takes Cosette from him. It is averted when Marius and Cosette track him down to apologize and reunite with him. (But he still dies.)
- Death Seeker: After he finds out about Marius, he turns himself in to Javert, expecting to go back to prison. When this doesn't happen, he ends up essentially neglecting himself to death after Cosette and Marius get married. (Possibly, Miles to Go Before I Sleep or Martyr Without a Cause.) Note this exchange between him and his housekeeper:
"But you ate nothing yesterday, poor, dear man!"
"Certainly I did," replied Jean Valjean.
"The plate is quite full."
"Look at the water jug. It is empty."
"That proves that you have drunk; it does not prove that you have eaten."
"Well," said Jean Valjean, "what if I felt hungry only for water?"
"That is called thirst, and, when one does not eat at the same time, it is called fever."
"I will eat to-morrow."
- Disease Bleach: In the novel, his hair turns completely white after he decides to turn himself in to the police.
- Doting Parent: To Cosette. He promises her mother that she would never want for anything, and he delivers.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Wears a French National Guard uniform to cross the barricade.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the trials Valjean goes through throughout the novel and musical, he finally dies surrounded by Marius and Cosette.
- The Everyman: His story of redemption is meant to be relatable to everybody, hence his name.
- Faking the Dead: Happens in the novel and in the anime, declared by Javert of all people.
- The Fettered: In his later years he draws strength from virtue.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Although he's a near-Messianic Archetype and grew up in poverty, he's very intelligent. Although the Thénardiers think he's this.
"Thank you both... For Cosette/ It won't take you too long to forget."
- Guilt Complex: In the book, after his encounter with the bishop (and to a great degree after the convent), Valjean develops intense feelings of guilt and unworthiness beyond what is merited by his crimes. This leads to strange, unhealthy behavior such as living in a little shed even though he has a house (for Cosette and his housekeeper), keeping his shed unheated and eating bad food.
"Father, I am very cold in your rooms; why don't you have a carpet here and a stove?"
"Dear child, there are so many people who are better than I and who have not even a roof over their heads."
- Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Before going to prison, Valjean is just a hardworking kid trying to keep his head above water and his family from starving. One petty crime leads to 5 years of hard labor, which snowballs into 19 years. Valjean comes out of prison with far more animosity and criminal leanings than he went in with.
- Head-in-the-Sand Management: He left most of the day-to-day affairs of his garment factory to his lecherous foreman (in the musical adaptation). This leads to Fantine getting fired. In the book, the foreman is an old lady, whom Valjean decides to defer to in managing his female employees.
- Heel Realization/Heel-Face Turn: Has one when Bishop of Digne lets him go with the candlesticks — struck by the Bishop's act of forgiveness, he repents and becomes a good man.
- He Who Fights Monsters: In prison, after contemplating how unjust the circumstances of his imprisonment were, Valjean starts entertaining vague revenge-on-society fantasies. This is what initially motivates him to learn to read.
- Iconic Outfit: The national guard uniform he wears to get in to the barricade in the musical.
- I Have Many Names: To take directly from Wikipedia's page, "Jean Valjean: a.k.a. Monsieur Madeleine, a.k.a. Ultime Fauchelevent, a.k.a. Monsieur Leblanc, a.k.a. Urbain Fabre, a.k.a. 24601, a.k.a. 9430."
- I Just Want To Be Free: Much of the story revolves around him escaping from Javert.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Love from Cosette essentially saves his life, and being separated from her kills him.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: He never forgave himself for Fantine's.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: A really, really skilled shot.
- It Was a Gift: The candlesticks Valjean steals from the Bishop of Digne.
- Jay Walking Will Ruin Your Life: Spending nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread took its toll on Valjean.
- Load-Bearing Hero: Valjean saves a man trapped under a heavy wagon by single-handedly raising it up, but it has serious consequences since Javert witnesses the event.
- Lonely at the Top: Valjean as mayor. All his good deeds were acts of penance instead of charity. Half the town only liked his generosity, the other half were suspicious of his intentions. It is true that he only learned to love when he adopted Cosette.
- Loveable Rogue: He's a fugitive, but he's also noble, selfless, and charitable.
- Meaningful Name: As stated above, "John's as good as any other John." His alias, Madeleine, is derived from Mary Magdalene (Marie-Madeleine), the repentant sinner.
- Messianic Archetype: He's kind, generous, forgiving, loving, self-sacrificing, etc. In the musical, Fantine and Fauchelevent both tell him directly that he comes from God, and Fauchelevent and Marius both call him 'a saint'.
- Must Make Amends: All the time. Nearly every action he makes post-Bishop of Digne is to atone for his criminal past.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After he steals the bishop's silver after the latter showed him mercy. In the musical, the song even opens with (and is titled) "What have I done?" and continues with "Sweet Jesus, what have I done?"
- Overprotective Dad: He's very protective of Cosette, as he promised Fantine he'd care for her. Although this is a bit justified considering Marius is practically a stranger bent on wooing her.
- Parental Substitute: To Cosette, per his promise to Fantine to care for her.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Thanks to Working on the Chain Gang, his time in prison gave him tremendous strength.
- Reformed, but Rejected: All his good deeds gets negated when his past get brought up.
- Secretly Wealthy: Has around 600,000 francs hidden in a forest. They don't call him "the beggar who gives alms" for nothing.
- Self-Made Man: As Madeleine, becoming a rich man and factory owner (and eventually mayor) from next to nothing.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In many of the English language films, if they end around Javert's suicide.
- Super Strength: He's very strong. After seeing Madeleine lift a cart, Javert begins to suspect he's Valjean as Valjean was the only person he ever knew who was that strong. (He's right, of course.)
- The Hero Dies: How the book, the play and (usually) the movies end.
- Tragic Hero: His is The Greatest Story Never Told. Is implied no one's visited his grave in a long time. We could just hope his example is passed to Cosette and Marius.
- Turn the Other Cheek: Valjean is a master at this. The standout example is when he spares Javert's life at the barricade, despite the fact that he's spent years running away from him.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Valjean's decision to help Javert escape sets up the man's suicide.
- Walk the Earth: Since he is a fugitive.
- What You Are in the Dark: Early in the story, Valjean actually has a chance to send someone else in his place to jail due to a case of mistaken identity, but he could never live with such a decision.
- Wife Husbandry: Seems to consider doing this for a split second at one point. Probably fortunately for all involved, the idea just as quickly Squicks him out. Some adaptations play this up a little more, particularly the 2000 TV miniseries, whose Valjean is generally agreed to be a huge creeper by fans.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: He believes himself safe in his new identity as Madeleine, only for Javert to make the whole thing crumble and put Valjean in front of the terrible choice of going back to prison or letting an innocent go to prison in his place.
- You Are Number Six: Javert refers to him by his prison number name, usually "24601".
Inspector JavertInspector Javert
is a guard in the prison Jean Valjean is released from, who later joins the Paris police force. In the musical, he infamously makes it his life goal to track down Valjean, but in the original novel he is really no more dedicated to catching Valjean than to dealing out justice to any other criminal. In fact, he runs into Valjean several times through pure coincidence and fails to recognize him.
- Nerves of Steel: Sort of. No danger can shake his cool, calm reserve: he'll arrest an armed gang with a grin and a barrage of pithy one-liners, stare down the barrel of a gun and (accurately) predict it will misfire, duck hurled paving stones, and face his execution at the hands of angry revolutionaries with equanimity. Show him mercy when he's not expecting it, though, and it's a whole different story...
- Nice Hat: Wears a nice 19th Century French hat or a top hat, depending on the adaptations.
- No Sense of Personal Space: In the book, he is described as being extremely touchy-feely. He stands uncomfortably close to others when talking to them, especially Valjean, and fiddles around with his possessions (such as the wooden shavings on his desk) subconsciously. When he meets Valjean for the final time, he also brings his face uncomfortably close to his.
- Only One Name: It's never told in the book if Javert is his first or last name, or if he even has any other name beside it.
- Oral Fixation: Snuff. The narrator snarks that, "This proved he was human."
- Paper-Thin Disguise: His disguise as a revolutionary was easily seen through by a child. This was exaggerated in adaptations such as the comic series, which has him wearing a cap - and suddenly nobody recognizes him, except for said kid.
- Pet the Dog: In the 2012 adaptation, he leaves his medal on Gavroche's dead body.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Towards Mme. Thenardier, when she was trying to crush him with a large rock.
Javert: What a grenadier! Mother, you may have the beard of a man, but I have the claws of a woman. (proceeds to casually arrest her and her husband)
- Pure Is Not Good: Incorruptible, selfless, and chaste - and nigh monstrous as a result.
- Redemption Equals Death: His finally understanding Valjean's kindness and gaining a less black-and-white worldview confused and depressed him so much he drowns himself, but not before writing a letter to the rest of the police about what needs to be changed to make France a better place for everyone to live.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the 2007 anime, he turns back at the last moment before committing suicide.
- Stern Chase: Javert never gives up the chase to get Valjean.
- The Stoic: He's essentially a straight-faced rock in most of his appearances.
- Not So Stoic: After Jean Valjean saves his life, he's notably emotional and conflicted about the whole ordeal.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: He is described as tall, wears a black coat, and is a Deadpan Snarker. He is also often portrayed as having black hair and slightly tanned skin, due to his implied half-Roma heritage.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Arresting Valjean (as the law states) vs. letting him go (good). When he has to decide between the two, it sends him spiraling into an ethical dilemma from Hell.
- Tragic Hero: A good and honorable man Driven to Suicide when he finds himself unable to reconcile his unyielding belief in justice and the law with the moral ambiguity of the real world. His death is portrayed as unambiguously tragic.
- Villainous Breakdown: He flips when Valjean spares him and spirals into suicide. Averted, since he is technically a good person during his breakdown.
- Voice Types: As mentioned above, the part calls for a baritone. Makes sense, as he's the primary antagonist in Valjean's story.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: His devotion to law and order includes the belief that no court judgement is ever wrong, no official is ever corrupt, and no law is ever unjust.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: In the book, at least.
A single mother, Fantine suffers through life trying to earn money to send to her daughter Cosette, under the care of the Thénardiers. After losing her job, her beauty, and her dignity, Fantine dies in a hospital — but not before Jean Valjean appears with the promise to find and care for Cosette until his death.
Euphrasie "Cosette" Fauchelevent
The poster girl of the book and musical, Cosette is the daughter of Fantine, left in the "care" of the Thénardiers. Becoming their abused child servant, Cosette manages to keep an optimistic outlook on life and is eventually adopted by Jean Valjean as her mother's final request. She grows into a lovely woman and falls in love with Marius.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: She has brown hair in the novel, but she's usually blonde in adaptations to invoke Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold.
- Barefoot Poverty: As a child in the musical. Although the book explains that she had wooden shoes but no socks in the freezing winter, the engraving of a barefoot Cosette has become the signature image of this story. It is also the page image for Barefoot Poverty's Literature work page.
- Break the Cutie: As a child when she was abused. Luckily for her, she got better.
- Cinderella Circumstances: Treated like garbage by her step-family, rescued by a savior, and falls in love with a handsome man.
- Daddy's Girl: Adores Valjean well into adulthood.
- Daughter of a Whore: Fantine's, although her mother wasn't a prostitute when she was born.
- Demoted to Extra: In the musical, her adolescent self appears to have less stage time compared to the book.
- Disappeared Dad: Cosette's real father. She does not remember him and accepts Valjean as her father.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: As a kid, after Valjean adopts her.
- Everyone Calls Her Cosette: To the point where her real name, Euphrasie, isn't even mentioned in most adaptations. She herself likes "Cosette" better.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Her wedding dress in the 2012 film is rather fancy, complete with Giant Poofy Sleeves.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: In plenty of adaptations, although she was brunette in the original novel. This is probably to highlight her ingenue status, invoking this trope.
- Happily Adopted: After Valjean adopts her she calls him 'papa' as if he sired her himself.
- Happily Married: To Marius near the end of the novel and musical.
- Heartwarming Orphan: After Fantine's death.
- Heroic Bastard: Fantine's illegitimate daughter, but she's still the kindest, sweetest person in the whole story.
- Hourglass Plot: With Eponine. Cosette starts off abused and forced to do labor for the Thenardiers while they spoil Eponine. Eventually, Cosette gets adopted by Valjean, who treats her very well and gives her a happy life. The Thenardiers lose all their money and have to live in poverty and turn to a life of crime, forcing Eponine to participate. When Cosette and Eponine appear as teenagers, the changes are hard not to notice.
- Iconic Outfit: Her black dress, in both the book and the musical.
- Infant Immortality: Abused little girl Cosette grows up into a lovely young woman.
- The Ingenue: She's sheltered, wealthy, beautiful, innocent...
- Ironic Nickname: Fantine names her baby Euphrasie in a moment of romantic inspiration, but soon calls her "Cosette" all the time (which means, basically, "Pampered" or "Indulged"). Then she leaves her child with the Thénardiers, who verbally and physically abuse the child, starve her, clothe her in rags, and force her to work for her keep — all the while still calling her "Cosette," little Indulged.
- Love Triangle: Between herself, Marius and Éponine.
- Meaningful Name: After Valjean adopts her, she really is "pampered" and "indulged".
- Nice Girl: Incredibly kind and friendly, even to the Thénardiers.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Her real name is Euphrasie, but this is left out of most adaptations.
- The locals in Montfermeil called her "the Lark."
- Orphan's Ordeal: She's abused by the Thenardiers, who milk her working mother's devotion for all its worth. She finds a safe and caring home in Valjean and gets to marry a handsome man.
- Proper Lady: She's very polite and proper. This is turned up in the musical where she has less stage time.
- Rags to Riches: Although she grew up poor, she's adopted by the wealthy Valjean.
- Series Mascot: Its her face that shows up in ads.
- She Is All Grown Up: Marius does a double-take when he realizes that the unattractive girl he ignored for six months grew up into the lovely Cosette.
- Spoiled Sweet: Valjean basically takes the attitude that she deserves everything good and nice in the world, though he lives very ascetically himself; she manages to turn this around on him, cajoling him into lighting a fire in his room and eating better by spending hours with him and then complaining of the cold and insisting that she eats what he does.
- Voice Types: Soprano, representing her beauty and innocence.
A charming young bachelor, Marius falls in love with Cosette, leading to Love Triangle
between the two and Éponine, who is very much his friend and confidante (whether he wants her to be or not
). He is a law student and a member of the Friends of the ABC, and fights in the revolution against the French law.
The eldest daughter and first born of the Thénardiers, Éponine starts off as spoiled bratty girl who is mean to Cosette. But, her parents' inn becomes bankrupt and the family are forced into poverty. She falls in love with Marius, and ends up bringing him and Cosette together.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: While the narrator claims Book Éponine is rather ugly due to her horrid circumstancesnote , she is notably more attractive in the musical. She's also a lot less creepy.
- Adapted Out: There are adaptations where she does not appear and is not even mentioned.
- Affably Evil: Okay, maybe not evil, but still quite manipulative.
- The Alcoholic / Lady Drunk: She's a drinker in the novel. She drinks brandy and liquors, resulting in her hoarse voice.
- Ascended Extra: Her adolescent self in the musical. While she is still very important in the book, she appears to have more stage time than Cosette.
- Badass: For a poor, impoverished waif, she's pretty tough and scrappy. As Gavroche put it in the musical, "she knows her way about/Only a kid but hard to scare".
- Barefoot Poverty: As an adolescent in the novel.
- Breakout Character: Mostly due to the musical.
- Character Exaggeration: Most, if not all, productions of the musical focus more on her unrequited love for Marius (as it fits into the musical's theme of yearning for what is ultimately impossible) and not really highlight everything else about her character from the novel. However, the numbers "Castle on a Cloud" and "The Robbery/Javert's Intervention" do highlight how Éponine lived as a child and then as a teen.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In the novel, Éponine is the "young (working) man," dressed in a grey blouse and pantaloons. While it is hinted once by Hugo that it was her, it was not made official until after she took the bullet for Marius at the barricades.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: She gets it from her mom.
- Cool Big Sis: Azelma sees her as this and aspires to be just like her.
- Death Seeker: "One Day More" has her verse "What a life I might have known!" meaning "Imagine if I had lived!".
- Demoted to Extra: In the 1998 film adaptation, she only appears as a child. Likewise, to the love triangle between her, Marius and Cosette are absent.
- She also only appears as a child in one scene in a 1988 animated adaptation and in one panel as an adolescent in a comic book adaptation.
- Driven to Suicide: Fed up with her shitty life, she decides to go die at the barricades.
- Dying Declaration of Love: She confesses her love for Marius as she's about to die.
- Emo Teen: Though with everything she's been through, it's not like she doesn't have a reason to be like that.
- Hopeless Suitor: Marius sees her as an associate (although they're closer in the musical) and he only has eyes for Cosette.
- Hourglass Plot: With Cosette. As children, Éponine is the pampered, well-off girl where Cosette is the poor and put-upon outcast. By the time they're both older, Cosette is wealthy while Éponine has ended up on the streets.
- Iconic Outfit: The large trench coat and baker boy hat she wears at the barricade in the musical.
- If I Can't Have You: In a rather shocking move, Éponine anonymously tells Marius that his friends are expecting him at the barricade. Believing Cosette has left for England, Marius goes, with Éponine close behind hoping they can die together.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Introduced in the 2012 adaptation trying to seduce Marius this way.
- Ironic Echo: When Cosette was a child, Hugo said "Cosette was ugly. Happy, she might, perhaps, have been pretty." However, when she and Éponine's statuses switch as adolescents, Hugo says this about Éponine: "The most touching thing about it was that this young girl had not come into the world to be ugly. In her early childhood, she must have even been pretty."
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Shows traits of this despite resenting Cosette and being very clingy to Marius. This is a possible interpretation of why she took the bullet for Marius.
- Karmic Transformation: Éponine grows up and has a dreary and impoverished life, while Cosette becomes the opposite of this.
- Last Request: In the novel, Éponine asks Marius to kiss her on the forehead after she dies. He does. Musicals usually either have her kiss Marius herself, or lean up to do so but die before she has a chance.
- Loving a Shadow: In the musical, the song "On My Own" makes it explicit that she's in love with the idea of Marius rather than the man himself.
- Manipulative Bitch: Though way more sympathetic than most.
- Miss Fanservice: The musical has her expose more skin than the typical 19th century girl, compared to the buttoned up Cosette.
- Nice Hat: She has a famous one in the musical.
- The Ophelia: Poverty has not been good to her sanity. She's even compared to the Trope Namer.
- Psychopomp: In the musical (but not in the 2012 film), she and Fantine fulfill this role for Valjean.
- Race Lift: She's been played Asian actresses (who have previously played the title role in Miss Saigon, interestingly) and African-American ones.
- Riches to Rags: Her family starts out as well-off inkeepers but slowly descend into poverty.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The first major character casualty of the barricade in the musical.
- Samus is a Girl: Éponine disguises herself as a boy to secretly go to the barricades and die with Marius after telling him to go there, and when she takes a bullet for him and her identity is revealed, he is shocked.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: She never gets the chance to, poor thing, but the narration mentions that she would if she could.
- Spoiled Brat: As a child, she got everything she wanted and was terrible to young Cosette.
- Stalker with a Crush: She basically follows Marius around.
- Suppressed Mammaries: In the 2012 adaptation.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Éponine disguises herself as a boy to secretly go to the barricades and die with Marius after telling him to go there.
- Taking the Bullet: For Marius at the barricades.
- Together in Death: The other possible interpretation as to why she took the bullet for Marius. She actually confirms this to Marius moments before her death.
"See, you are lost! Nobody will get out of the barricade, now. It was I who led you into this, it was! You are going to die, I am sure. And still when I saw him aiming at you, I put up my hand upon the muzzle of the musket. How droll it is! But it was because I wanted to die before you."
- The Tragic Rose: Described as "a rose in misery" in the book.
- Unkempt Beauty: The book notes her to be one; she's rather more traditionally pretty in the musical.
- In the book, Hugo calls Éponine "beautiful" during her visit with Marius at The Field of the Lark.
- Voice Types: Mezzo-soprano, to contrast with her foil Cosette (soprano).
"Citizen, my mother is the Republic."
Head of the Friends of the ABC club, Enjolras seeks radical change in France and starts a revolution against the French law, building a barricade to take a stand with his friends.
- Adaptational Villainy: He of all characters is hit with this hard in the 1935 American film adaptation, in which, due to the Thenardiers' screen time being drastically reduced, he's actually the closest character to pure evil. He is portrayed as an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight who stages a coup on Maruis's nonviolent protest movement, sparking the violence. He's even played by John Carradine, who is better known for playing Dracula numerous times and who looks about as unlike a radiant Greek god as possible. The reason for this is due to the film being made during the First Red Scare, and a heroic revolutionary being considered too much for the public of the day to swallow.
- Adapted Out: There are adaptations where he does not appear and is not even mentioned.
- All-Loving Hero: Single-mindedly devoted to liberating the people of Paris. He barely knew Eponine but is still deeply moved and grief-stricken by her sacrifice for Marius.
- Angry Mob Song: "Do You Hear the People Sing?"
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Rare male example. He fights for hours, doesn't sleep for more than a day, is never wounded, and is still so pretty at the end that he makes the National Guard pause.
- Blue Blood: Specifically the only son of a very wealthy family.
- Celibate Hero: He channels all his energy into POLITICS!
- Asexuality: Possibly this. Has zero interest in women, even going so far to claim his homeland as his mistress.
- Badass Gay: Another possibility. He is compared to quite a few gay classical figures, is described as feminine, and has a certain amount of Ho Yay with Grantaire. Needless to say, it's been a topic of some debate.
- Crucified Hero Shot: His death in the musical is usually staged this way.
- Demoted to Extra: In the 1998 film adaptation. Much of his role in the movie is given to Marius.
- Expy: To Maximilien Robespierre and his Number Two Saint-Just. He has Robespierre's zeal, rumoured Asexuality and Saint-Just's good looks (also likened to an Angel) and wealthy origins.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Complete with chest-baring. "Shoot me."
- To Grantaire, who is described as practically Enjolras's antithesis.
- Also to a lesser extent Combeferre, who is described as rounding out Enjolras' dogma with a more grounded and humane view of the revolution.
- Go Out with a Smile: Dies defiantly smiling while raising the revolution's flag one last time.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Grantaire. Most of the time Enjolras sees Grantaire as a annoyance, although there's a fair amount of suggestion that heterosexual might not be the best term here. Tends to depend on the actors in the musical but the 2012 movie and most modern performances tend to suggest this. In the book, it mostly takes the form of one sided love and veneration until their death scene, when they seem to be on more equal terms.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He means well with his revolution, hoping to bring about change for the poor.
- Holding Hands: How he and Grantaire die.
- Iconic Outfit: His red vest in the musical, fondly called the Red Vest of Doom.
- Ideal Hero: He's pretty much a classical romantic hero placed into a world of Grey and Grey Morality, and as a result comes off as rather naive but inspiring nonetheless.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness
- La Résistance: He heads the Les Amis, an organization devoted to change.
- Last Name Basis: His first name is never given.
- The Leader: The driving force and head of Les Amis.
- Manly Tears: When he shoots a soldier in the book, a tear falls down his "marble cheek." In the 2012 film, this happens after Eponine's death.
- No Name Given: Due to it being difficult to pronounce, Enjolras's name is actually never spoken in libretto during the entire musical.
- Though beginning the ABC Cafe scene with an exclaimed "Enjolras!" has become a pretty regular ad-lib, nowadays.
- Pretty Boy: Described as having an "angelic beauty."
- Race Lift: In the 1998 film adaptation and the 2014 Broadway revival.
- Rebel Leader: Of Les Amis.
- Red Is Heroic: In the musical, the song "Red and Black." Enjolras sings about how red is the blood of martyrs, the color of passion, and the dawning of a new age. He also gets a snazzy red vest.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He's sadly wrong about what it will take for Paris to take a stand against the monarchy, and dies for it.
Monsieur and Madame Thénardier
Monsieur and Madame Thénardier
A pair of devious, greedy innkeepers who take in Cosette but use her as a cleaner, demanding bigger payments from Fantine. After Jean Valjean adopts Cosette, the Thénardiers are forced out of their inn and becomes criminals in Paris. They have five children, who are Éponine, Azelma, Gavroche and two other unnamed sons.
- Abusive Parents: Mainly Thénardier, Madame Thénardier seems to genuinely care for her daughters, and continued to be so when they were in poverty. (Though in the musical, she is the most clearly abusive of Cosette, and clearly doesn't care a bit about Éponine post-bankruptcy.)
- Accidental Hero: Monsieur Thénardier, when he saves Marius's father's life — he had intended to loot the man.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Madame Thénardier in the 2012 film; they cast Helena Bonham-Carter.
- This is played with in the film by having her verse of "Master of the House" sung to a guest in flirtation, distracting him with the sexy while she steals from him. Later, she tries to do this near the end of "Javert's Intervention" to Javert but he remains unfazed.
- Also in the 2000 mini-series.
- Adapted Out: Both of them in the 1952 film. They are only mentioned once as "an innkeeper and his wife."
- Apron Matron: Madame Thénardier to her daughters.
- Awful Wedded Life: Mm. Thenardier's part on "Master Of The House".
- The Barnum: Thenardier's song "Master of the House" is all about how he makes his living ripping people off and stealing from his guests.
- Big Bad: Thenardier is the closest thing the novel has to an actual villain.
- Brawn Hilda: Madame is described as a giantess of a woman.
- Card-Carrying Villain: In the musical at least. Their songs all show that they both know that they're horrible people and are way more proud of it than they should be.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Madame is stated to be this way when it comes to her husband (God only knows why). This is probably where Eponine gets it.
- Demoted to Extra: Both of them in a lot of the film adaptations.
- Disaster Scavengers: In the musical, they take advantage of the battle to loot the corpses of the dead.
- Dissonant Laughter: Their upbeat, happy musical number is about how they con all their guests to earn money.
- Domestic Abuser: Thenardier is implied to be one in the book, as Madame is stated to fear no one but him.
- Evil Gloating: Thénardier pulls this when he has captured Valjean.
- Henpecked Husband: Thenardier in the musical and 2012 film. It's the other way around in the book though.
- Karma Houdini: Thénardier gets away with all of his crimes in the book and musical. He and his wife even sing a song about it in the musical!
We know where the wind is blowin'
Money is the stuff we smell!
And when we're rich as Croesus
Jesus, won't we see you all in HELL!
- Averted in the 2007 anime.
- Also averted, to a degree, in the 2012 film. While they still don't receive any formal punishment, they are last seen being beaten up and physically thrown out of the wedding for impersonating a Baron and Baroness.
- Lady Macbeth: Madame is shown to be much more terrifying than her husband, especially in the musical.
- Last Name Basis: Their first names are never known.
- Parental Abandonment: To their three sons.
- Parental Favoritism: Madame favors her daughters in the book. Her sons, however, she doesn't care for.
- Plucky Comic Relief/ Laughably Evil: In the musical. Still creepy, though.
- Self-Serving Memory: Thénardier claims that he sold Cosette to Valjean for a pittance and tries to find a way to extort more after their paths cross again. In fact, Valjean paid him 1500 francs to get custody of Cosette, which was a lump sum worth considerably more than what Fantine would have been paying for him to raise Cosette in that time period, delivered in monthly payments of 10 francs.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Madame Thénardier in the musical, the 2007 anime, and the 2012 film.
- Unholy Matrimony: They're married, and the most villainous characters in the story.
- Villain Song: "Master of the House," "Dog Eat Dog" and "Beggar At The Feast."
The eldest son and third born of the Thénardiers, Gavroche fends for himself in Paris and has little connections to his family. He joins the rebels at the barricade.
- Adapted Out: In the 1935 film.
- Ascended Extra: In the anime, he was Cosette's friend since young, preventing her from falling into despair. Hence, Cosette was a lot happier and brighter when Valjean comes for her.
- The Artful Dodger: He makes a living picking pockets and generally being sneaky.
- Ascended Extra: Has a very prominent role in the anime although it also follows the book closely.
- Badass Adorable: He's a scrappy young boy who boldly runs in front of an entire line of infantry without an ounce of fear in him. This changes after he learns that there is no Infant Immortality, but he still tries to move forward any way.
- Come to Gawk: Seems to like watching public executions.
- Defiant to the End: In the 2012 film.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Gavroche isn't actually an orphan, but he still basically fits.
- Infant Immortality: Averted, with varying degrees of brutality depending on the adaptation. A particularly harsh example is the 2012 movie, as the camera is up close as he gets shot while singing Little People.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the 2007 anime.
- Street Urchin: To the point that, after the book was published, "gavroche" essentially became the French word for "street urchin".
- Tagalong Kid: An inversion; he proves to be very helpful to the rebels, although they all find it disconcerting to have a little kid fight alongside them.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Believes that Infant Immortality will keep him from getting killed storming the front lines. He's sadly mistaken and dies barely a minute later.
The Bishop of Digne
Bishop Charles Francois-Bienvenu Myriel of Digne
A friendly bishop who takes Jean Valjean in after he left prison. Valjean steals two candlesticks but is arrested and taken back to Bishop Myriel. To Valjean's shock, the Bishop claimed he had given to him as a gift and tells Valjean to use the candlesticks to make something of his life.
- Decoy Protagonist: The book starts with establishing his personality and describing his life; then, Valjean bursts onto the scene.
- Demoted to Extra: In some adaptations, the musical included, all of his backstory and history from the novel is cut.
- Go and Sin No More: The bioshop to Valjean.
- Good Shepherd: A very good-hearted, generous priest.
- It Was a Gift: Said pretty much word-for-word about the candlesticks when Valjean is brought to him after he steals them. Those sticks go on to have great personal significance for Valjean, as a reminder of his atonement.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Only appears at the beginning of the tale, but his influence not only triggers Valjean's Heel-Face Turn, but shapes the man he soon turns into. The Bishop's simple act of forgiveness ripples through the rest of the play and is felt in every decision Valjean makes after meeting him.
- Turn the Other Cheek: He forgives Valjean's theft of his candlesticks, claiming they were a gift.
- The Vicar: Averted, since he's a Bishop.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When heard the story of the state prosecutor proving a counterfeiter's guilt by preying on the jealousy of his lover, he denounced the prosecutor for using foul means in the interest of justice.
Les Amis de l'ABC
Friends of the ABC Club
A group of gentlemen led by Enjolras who start the revolution against the French law. Other members include Marius, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Bahorel, Laigle (nicknamed Bossuet), Joly and the resident drunk Grantaire (with his own section below).
- Adapted Out: In some adaptations, they are unnamed. Justified, as it is quite easy to think of them as a unit as opposed to individual personalities, especially for the first-time viewer.
- All There in the Script: Easy to miss for the first-time watcher, but Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Grantaire and Feuilly are all name-dropped in the same song. Everyone else's name is never mentioned, but their names do find their way onto the program - with the one exception of Bahorel. Enjolras's name is often ad-libbed in the opening of the Cafe scene.
- Bilingual Bonus: Abaissé (oppressed) is pronounced "ah-be-see" in French.
- Defiant to the End: Although outnumbered and outmatched, they keep fighting until their death.
- Doomed Moral Victor: They're very right about the state of politics in France, but are wrong in thinking the people will rise to join them.
- Tragic Hero: A gang of them.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: save for Grantaire. Justified as most of them had participated in a successful revolution two years earliernote .
A scholarly young medical student described as the "guide" of Les Amis.
- Actual Pacifist: He tries to dissuade Enjolras from using death as a tool of revolution, and dies trying to save one of their enemies.
- Animal Motifs: Because of his affinity for the insect, he tends to be associated with moths.
- Badass Bookworm: He's handy in the final battle and is a noted scholar.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most gloriously to Marius. Two words: "Être libre."note
: (fanboying Napoleon
) Let us be just, my friends! What a splendid destiny for a nation to be the Empire of such an Emperor, when that nation is France and when it adds its own genius to the genius of that man! [...] To cause constellations of victories to flash forth at each instant from the zenith of the centuries, to make the French Empire a pendant to the Roman Empire, to be the great nation and to give birth to the grand army, to make its legions fly forth over all the earth, as a mountain sends out its eagles on all sides to conquer, to dominate, to strike with lightning, to be in Europe a sort of nation gilded through glory, to sound athwart the centuries a trumpet-blast of Titans, to conquer the world twice, by conquest and by dazzling, that is sublime; and what greater thing is there? Combeferre
: To be free.
- Foil: To Enjolras, described as rounding him off by being gentler and more rational.
- The Lancer: The narration notes that he is "made of softer shades" than Enjolras, and represents the philosophy of the revolution.
- Nice Guy: Explicitly so, in contrast to Enjolras. He is very compassionate, and he is shot even while bringing medical attention to a wounded soldier of the Garde Nationale.
- The Philosopher: A peaceful thinker to temper Enjolras.
- The Smart Guy: It seems he always has some words of wisdom to share, although they rarely go heeded.
Marius's closest friend in the novel, and a warm and charismatic young man.
- Big Brother Instinct: He shows this in befriending Marius, in spite of his politics diverge strongly from that of the Amis, and Gavroche, an actual child.
- Blue Blood: Implied since he is de Courfeyrac but he doesn't use it since he is anti-royalist.
- The Charmer: He's a very charming person, and the reason Marius joins Les Amis in the first place.
- Foil: The narrator explicit states Courfeyrac is the Good Counterpart of Fantine's ex-lover Tholomyès.
- The Heart: Courfeyrac is described as the "center" of Les Amis, "always giving off warmth."
- Nice Hat: Whenever he's not losing it.
- Really Gets Around: Courfeyrac is apparently pretty promiscuous.
- Sword Cane: Has one.
The youngest member of the group, Prouvaire is a Romantic poet and sociologist who is highly interested in the middle ages.
- Adorkable: Described as a sweet poet who dresses badly and finds it difficult to speak to women, but this doesn't stop him from being pretty badass.
He spoke softly, bowed his head, lowered his eyes, smiled with embarrassment, dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at a mere nothing, and was very timid. Yet he was intrepid.
- Blue Blood: The only son of a rich family.
- Cowardly Lion: Despite his timid disposition, he is said to show great courage.
- Fan of the Past: Very interested in medieval times.
- The Heart: He is referred to as the bow that ties the Amis together and makes them whole. This combined with his gentle nature makes the trope incarnate.
- In Love with Love: Said to be addicted to love, in fact.
- In Universe Nickname: Jehan, a medieval spelling of Jean.
- Kill the Cutie: He was the youngest of the Amis, and considered to be their innocence. Naturally, he is the first of them to die, and he does so alone, unlike his friends.
- Prisoner Exchange: When Jean Prouvaire is captured by the National Guard they plan to trade him for Javert. Defied, as he is swiftly executed.
- You Always Hear The Bullet: His death.
Another medical student, Joly is a hypochondriac and best friends with Bossuet.
- Adorkable: Stresses over his health, looks at his tongue in a mirror, and rubs his nose with his cane when he's thinking.
- Combat Medic: He's a medical student and as such fulfills this role.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Bossuet. They are specifically mentioned to share everything, including Joly's own mistress Musichetta.
- Hypochondria: This is apparently a result of spending so much time at the hospital (he's training to be a doctor).
- Official Couple: Him and Bossuet sharing everything notwithstanding, Joly is described as "wild for" Musichetta.
The notoriously unlucky member of Les Amis, with a limitless supply of good humor.
The only member of Les Amis who is not a student, Feuilly is an orphaned fanmaker who taught himself how to read and write. Very interested in world revolutions, especially that of Poland's.
- The Generic Guy: He doesn't have as obvious a "hook" as his friends, and represents the everyman among the mostly privileged Amis.
- Hero Worship: He incites this in Enjolras.
- Missing Mom: Whom he replaced with an allegorical Mother France.
A slacker from a peasant background. He dies first out of the ABC on the barricade.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Friendly, cheerful, and always up for a good fight.
- For the Evulz: Evil is a strong word, but Bahorel is not above causing chaos for curiosity's sake.
A hard-drinking, cynical member of Les Amis de l'ABC who joined the cause only because of his ardent admiration of Enjolras
- Drowning My Sorrows: "I'd like a drink. I desire to forget life."
- Foil: The book dedicates an entire paragraph to describing how he's the exact opposite of Enjolras.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Grantaire can paint, dance, fence, box and reference any number of historical events, as well as being very eloquent. However, he implicitly sees himself as stupid.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: his and Enjolras's relationship is compared to that of Orestes and Pylades.
- Ho Yay: It is also compared to that of Achilles and Patroclus, and Alexander and Hephaestion.
- Holding Hands: How he and Enjolras die.
- Last Name Basis: His first name is never revealed.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: He's really not. He's in it for Enjolras.
- Opposites Attract: Given as the reason for his devotion to Enjolras. "We are attracted to what we lack."
- Purple Prose: Has a tendency to slip into dramatic, flowery dialogue when monologuing about the misery of the world.
- Redemption Equals Death: Grantaire, whom Enjolras thought a faithless drunk, wakes up from his drunken stupor just in time to make a Last Stand alongside his friend and leader.
- Slept Through the Apocalypse: Passes out (unsurprisingly) drunk in the clubhouse and sleeps through the majority of the battle... Only waking up in time to find the army about to shoot Enjolras.
- Sour Supporter: He criticizes the ideals of Les Amis and is really only around for Enjolras. Unfortunately, he's one of the rare proven-right examples.
- Wall of Text: Has at least two very long rants concerning philosophy, revolution, and general rambling nonsense.
The second daughter and second born of the Thénardiers. Like her sister, Azelma was also spoiled and was disrespectful to Cosette, but ended up in poverty after her parents' inn went bankrupt. Azelma becomes dependent and weak-minded and never disobeys her parents.
An elderly churchwarden, Mabeuf was a friend of Marius' father and buries Colonel Pontmercy after meeting Marius. He is fond of books and plants, but when he is forced to sell all of his books and his wife dies, he joins the rebellion.
A man whose life Valjean saves early on; later grants him and Cosette sanctuary at a convent.
Marius's conservative, wealthy grandfather.
- Dirty Old Man: Still maintains an active interest in skirt-chasing.
- Disco Dan: Monsieur Gillenormand is close to 90, and was a young man during the end of the Ancient Regime, and hasn't changed his attitudes, dress, etc., even though the world has changed around him. The result is that without changing anything, he's gone from a well-dressed man of the Enlightenment to a ridiculously unfashionable reactionary.
Four petty thieves who closely associate with Thenardier. They try to rob the house where Valjean and Cosette take up residence, and are promptly arrested.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Montparnasse, to Eponine.
- Adapted Out: In some film adaptations.
- Conveniently Cellmates: When Thénardier and the Patron-Minette gang get arrested, only Thénardier is put into a different cell from the others, who of course quickly devise a plan together and even manage to communicate the plan to Thénardier.
- Dumb Muscle: Gueulemer
- The Fighting Narcissist: Montparnasse, who became a vicious street crook for the sake of staying fashionable and prides himself on his beauty even as he murders and steals his way through life.
- Five-Bad Band:
- The Ghost: Claquesous; it's mentioned that nobody had ever seen him in a decent light in all his recorded life.
- It's All About Me: Brujon (in the musical) is only out for himself.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Babet
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: After killing a innocent civilian Claquesous is executed by Enjolras.
- Malevolent Masked Man: Claquesous, who refuses to ever be seen without a mask.
- The Mole: Claquesous is implied to be one.
- No Indoor Voice: Musical Brujon shouts all the time.
- Pretty Boy: Montparnasse's good looks and "wide hips" are given emphasis in the narrative.