Let me tell you about book!Enjolras. When one of the revolutionaries got drunk and shot an unarmed citizen, Enjolras grabbed the man by his hair, forced him to his knees, and gave him one minute to say his prayers. He stood calmly timing him on his watch as the man screamed and begged at his feet, then put a pistol to his head and shot him. Then “he thrust the body aside with his foot and said, ‘Get rid of that.’” Enjolras had no problem giving Gavroche a gun. Enjolras stayed at the back of the barricade because he knew that he had to stay alive to give orders. Enjolras killed the young National Guard who was loading the cannon even though it pained him to do so— he shed a single tear, called him “brother” and shot him to buy a few precious minutes. Enjolras instructed the revolutionaries to keep a stack of several paving stones on the first floor of the cafe, and when the National Guard attacked, they threw them on the soldiers below and crushed them. Enjolras found several bottles of wine in the back of the cafe; he placed them on the first floor, too, so that when they inevitably ran out of bullets they could use the bottles as clubs. When he was finally pinned down, surrounded by the bodies of his friends and and facing twenty members of the National Guard, Enjolras threw away his gun, offered them his chest, and said, “shoot me.” He refused a blindfold.
Enjolras is vicious. Enjolras is angry. And above all, Enjolras is an idealist; and there is absolutely nothing more dangerous.
This is why I love Enjolras. Because he was always aware of the death that he was bringing. but he thought that the small chance of reaching that new world, that small potential hope, was worth it.
It is both terrifying, and beautiful.
Hugo does not refer to him as “capable of being terrible” for nothing. Enjolras is an ideal but to achieve that ideal one must sometimes do horrible things. Those bottles? They were not filled with wine They were filled with acid. He was not just a school boy in over his head. He had fought on barricades before and knew what had to be done to either achieve victory or go down swinging. He knows how terrible he can be and yet his love for his friends always wins out.
But those things he does? The acts of violence he commits? He takes it upon himself so his friends don’t have to live with the consequence of their actions. He gives those around him a chance to leave the fighting so that they could survive.
Yes he is terrible. Yes he is an idealistic revolutionary willing to do what he must so that their efforts will not be in vain. But above all that, he is human with a heart full of love for his friends and comrades and it is this love that drives his actions.
He is terrible. He is loving. He is human.