In the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, it is easy for one to see the opposites shown in the characters. Some characters are more similar, while others are polar opposites. Within the story, what happens to the characters strongly influences their personality. This happens for the case of Eponine and Cosette. Eponine is the daughter of the Thenardiers. They are cruel, money obsessed, and are willing to do anything for an extra buck. Thenardier takes money from whoever he can by creating schemes. These schemes range from robbery to as big as murder. His wife, Mme. Thenardier is just as evil and takes pleasure in tormenting Cosette. Eponine helps in her parents’ schemes to steal, but she redeems herself by saving Marius’ life. Cosette on the other hand doesn’t turn out quite the same. Cosette spends most of her childhood as a servant for the Thenardiers. Cosette’s mother, Fantine, pays for her daughter to live with the Thenardiers in order to obtain a job. The Thenardiers treat Cosette like scum. They dress her in worn out rags, force her to be the maid of the inn, and beat her often. Her life is like this until Jean Valjean rescues her and takes her into his care. Although Cosette and Eponine grew up very different, the have their similarities and differences.
Throughout the book, if one truly looks at the character of Cosette closely, the reader would see she is more of an empty figure rather than an independent one. Most people take notice that she is innocent throughout the book, passive to the men in her life, and she is obedient to a fault even when it makes her unhappy. The few times where she is self-aware occur when she first realizes that she is pretty and when she meets Marius in the garden. She is unable to do anything other than what Valjean wants her to do. Her passivity is then passed on to Marius once they are married. She is the “doll” of the story. The story presents her, allowing the other characters to obsess over her. He offers less editorial comment about her than any of the other major characters.
Eponine is the opposite of Cosette in many ways, but the contrast is more ironic. Eponine is the actual daughter of the Thenardiers while Cosette was born out of wedlock. Eponine is submerged in the lifestyle of a criminal thanks to her father and only escapes it through her own high spirits and courage. Cosette has almost anything she could want while Eponine has nothing. Marius is the one thing Eponine does want, but he would never be hers. Eponine is the daughter of a known criminal, while Cosette is being fathered by a secret one. Cosette’s innocence and purity is from having a very sheltered life and the lack of exposure to anything that might be negative to her. Eponine is not afraid to fight for what she wants. She knows how to manipulate people and situations to her advantage. She is the same age as Cosette, but she acts much older.
Through all these differences, Cosette and Eponine have one big thing in common, their love for Marius. They are both willing to do anything for him. In the case of Cosette, she fell in love with Marius the second he saw him and Marius fell in love with her. When they finally meet, they just fall deeper in love. They eventually end up getting married and live happily together. Eponine’s story is a little different though. She is deeply in love with Marius, but Marius only thinks of her as a friend. She is willing to do anything to get Marius to notice her from telling him where Cosette lives to preventing her parents from robbing Cosette’s house. At the end of the story, she makes the biggest sacrifice for Marius. She gives up her life to save his by jumping in front of a bullet. Though their love for Marius is expressed in different ways, they both love him more than anyone.
Overall, Les Miserables is a fantastic book consisting of many characters with many differences and similarities. Two characters with multiple differences and similarities are Cosette and Eponine. Cosette is more of a “doll” then anything in this story. She is obedient to a fault even when it makes her unhappy. She does whatever the men in her life tell her to do. Eponine starts out as a jerk. She torments Cosette until Jean Valjean takes her away. As she ages she matures some although she helps in her parents schemes. She does end up redeeming herself by saving Marius’ life. Through these differences, they both love Marius with all their hearts. Although they are two very different characters, if the reader looks close enough, they will see they are not so different at heart.