Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
BOOK SEVENTH: Argot
An explanation of argot, the street language of the gamins and criminals.
Book Eighth: Enchantment and Desolation
Eponine has shown Marius where to find Cosette. After the first visit, he comes every evening and the two of them spend the evening hours adoring each other with words and looks. Marius forgets his former interests and each accepts what the other divulges without thinking to ask for more.
Jean Valjean suspects nothing, content to rejoice in the fact that Cosette seems happy again. Marius’ friends, however, notice that he is out until the early morning hours; they assume is “sewing wild oats.”
Eponine follows Marius when he visits Cosette. One night her father and the four bandits have plans to break into Valjean’s house. Eponine holds them off by threatening to scream and bring the police down on them. In this way she also prevents Marius and Cosette from being discovered.
While Eponine has been dealing with the bandits, Marius has been engaged with Cosette. She has been crying because her father is planning for them to move again. Marius gives her his address, then tells her that he will not be seeing her the following night. The next day, Marius visits his grandfather whom he has not seen in four years. The old man has been gradually declining in health and spirits. Inwardly, he grieves continually over the loss of Marius, but is too proud to admit that he might have been wrong.
Marius’ intention is to ask his grandfather for permission to marry Cosette. At first Gillenormand refuses, but he relents when Marius calls him “father.” However, he consents not to marriage but to the use of Cosette as simply a mistress. Marius is deeply insulted and leaves, plunging his grandfather into despair. The old man believes that he has lost his grandson for good this time.
The evenings of staring into each other’s eyes and engaging in meaningless chat add to the comical naivete of both Marius and Cosette. At the same time, Eponine is wise beyond her years, both in the ways of the criminal element and in the ways of the heart. The depth of her love for Marius is apparent as she could just as easily have betrayed him and thus revealed both his relationship with Cosette and the location of Valjean. She does not know the importance of the latter, but protection of Marius is admirable both for its elements of self-sacrifice and for her courage.
The lovers’ final evening together has echoes of Romeo and Juliet. Marius intends to return but does not tell her of his plans to visit his grandfather. She takes his address but is unable to give him information about where she will be. The result is that when he returns two nights later, she is gone and he can find no word of her. Since he did not get word to her, Cosette imagines that she has lost him again. Each of them intends to simply give up and die. At the same time, Valjean sees Marius as the enemy and would prefer to simply have him out of the picture.
Events are approaching a climax between Marius and his grandfather as well. The old man cannot quite bring himself to initiate a reconciliation and his misunderstanding of Marius’ intentions for Cosette widen the rift even further. Gillenormand is on a roller-coaster to self-imposed heart-break and cannot figure out how to stop it.