Those who have read or watched Les Miserables know that Eponine is an unfortunate girl, indeed. Raised by two cruel opportunists, she lived a miserable life of poverty and crime as her parents were both thieves. Though the novel and the musical disagree on the extent of her manipulativeness, one thing was common, Eponine was tragic, from her upbringing to her death. Although she sacrificed her life for Marius, she was quickly forgotten by him (Marius is the man Eponine loved, she was mourned by him a bit in the musical, but was completely dismissed by him in the novel). And to add insult to injury, not even her parents cared for her death, they just went on their lives of inhumane evil.
Eponine is not the only inhabitant of the world of tragic characters. Often do the novels portray such anguished characters, who knew nothing but neglect and maybe a little bit of love that they give, usually unrequited. They exist to serve the unfolding of events and to sacrifice themselves for the main characters, and no matter how crucial their sacrifice is, little tribute is given to them by the main characters, as their death is usually in the middle of the climax, where the pace of the plot is very fast and they are more wrapped up in solving the “case” than grieving for these characters.
These characters exist around us everyday, and like their fictional counterparts, they go unnoticed and forgotten. Those people who are always there for us and whose existence we take for granted; the one person in a group whom we rely on for anything and never think to return the favour to because he or she is “just too kind”, the one who is abused physically or emotionally, yet smiles and never complains, the one carrying the burden of unrequited love, the one who wishes to experience love and the one who lacks people that can give love, all of these people are no different from the tragic characters that we sympathize with in the novels, and we are no different from the main characters in the novel who belittle their existence and dismiss their sacrifice.
So let’s make the Valentine’s day about the Eponine in our lives. Find the Eponine around you, whether it’s a family member, friend or even a stranger. Make them feel appreciated and let them know love, the love they so willingly give, yet never receive back, and remember Eponine, Charles Darnay, Professor Snape, etc. would have had happier endings and felt a little bit appreciated and received a little love.