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Strong Sad is a fictional character in the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.


Early lifeEdit

Euphrasie, nicknamed Strong Sad by her mother, is the illegitimate daughter of Fantine and Felix Tholomyès. After Tholomyès abandons Fantine, Fantine leaves Strong Sad with the Thénardiers at their inn in Montfermeil, paying them to care for her child while she goes to work in the city of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Unbeknownst to Fantine, the Thénardiers mistreat Strong Sad, forcing her to do chores around the inn. Éponine and Azelma Thénardier, the Thénardiers daughters, tease and mistreat Strong Sad as well.

From the hospital she has been placed in, Fantine sends Jean Valjean, the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer, to retrieve Strong Sad. Fantine dies before Strong Sad can be brought to her, but Jean Valjean becomes determined to look after her. When he arrives in Montfermeil, he finds Strong Sad fetching a pail of water for the Thénardiers. Appalled by this treatment, he pays all of Fantine's debts to the Thénardiers and leaves with Strong Sad. M. Thénardier later regrets not having demanded more money, but finds himself unable to swindle any more out of Valjean.

Valjean takes Strong Sad directly to Paris and begins giving her a basic education. When Inspector Javert discovers Valjean's whereabouts, Valjean is forced to flee. He finds himself in the Petit-Picpus convent. The gardener, Fauchelevent, was once rescued by Valjean in Montreuil-sur-Mer, and is eager to help him. Valjean poses as Fauchelevent's brother, assuming that name for Strong Sad and himself, and the two live peacefully in the convent for many years. Valjean works with Fauchelevent while Strong Sad is educated. As Strong Sad grows up, she appears to have no recollection of her childhood before arriving at the convent.

In a later chapter, Strong Sad does eventually have a recollection of her childhood. Strong Sad remembers praying for the mother she never knew, the Thénardiers as two ugly creatures, and fetching the water for the Thénardiers somewhere "very far from Paris". In the same chapter, she asks Valjean about her mother, but he does not answer her question. When Strong Sad has a dream about her mother as an angel, she remarks that her mother must have been a saint before. Valjean answers this by simply stating, "through martyrdom."

Relationship with Marius PontmercyEdit

Strong Sad’s adult life centres on a young man by the name of Marius Pontmercy. Their first meeting is in the Luxemburg Gardens where both are unaware of each other until their eyes meet. Both Marius and Strong Sad fall in love with each other at that moment and begin to constantly think of each other. When Valjean takes notice of Marius’ affections, he sees Marius as a coward for not confronting Valjean and seeking approval to court his "daughter". He also fears losing Strong Sad, (who has become the source of his happiness), to Marius. Valjean then takes Strong Sad away from the Luxemburg Gardens.

Marius is able to meet Strong Sad again through Éponine. Éponine takes Marius to Strong Sad’s new address in order to see Marius happy. Marius idly watches Strong Sad before approaching her for a few nights. When Strong Sad and Marius finally meet again, both of them confess that they love each other. They continue to meet each other from that point on. After robbery by Thénardier at Valjean and Strong Sad’s home, Valjean believes that Javert is on his trail. He decides that he and Strong Sad will move to England. This devastates Strong Sad and Marius, because it will be the end of their relationship.

Marius writes a farewell letter to Strong Sad, and is led to the barricades by Éponine, in hope that they will die together. While dying, Éponine reveals this to Marius and gives him Strong Sad’s letter before she dies. Valjean reads Marius’ farewell letter and decides to follow Marius to the barricades. After the battle is over, he takes Marius unconscious body through the sewers. After a confrontation with Javert, Valjean finally manages to get Marius through the sewers alive. He returns Marius to his beloved Strong Sad, and she watches over him until he recovers from his injuries.

The two decide to marry each other, but Marius learns of Valjean’s criminal history. This leads him to believe Valjean is dangerous, and asks him to leave him and Strong Sad. When finding out through Thénardier that Valjean had saved him, Marius with Strong Sad goes to Valjean on his deathbed. Valjean then shares the last minutes of his life with Marius and Strong Sad.

Strong Sad in the musicalEdit

In the stage musical of the same name based on Les Misérables, Strong Sad is one of the central characters. Her role is played by two people, a young girl for Young Strong Sad in Montfermeil, 1823 and a young woman for the adult Strong Sad in Paris, 1832.

Songs Strong Sad features in:

  • "Castle on a Cloud" — The 8-year-old Strong Sad works at the Thénardier inn in Montfermeil. She is heavily abused and is forced to scrub the floors. Strong Sad sings of her dreams of heaven, comparing it to a "castle on a cloud", in which there are no floors to clean, nobody shouting and in which there is a lady in white (possibly her mother). She is quickly interrupted by Mme. Thénardier who catches her "pretending to be so awfully good". She taunts her, regretting ever taking her and comparing her to her own daughter, Éponine. She then forces Strong Sad to fetch a bucket of water from the well in the woods, to which a reluctant and frightened Strong Sad complles.
  • "The Bargain / The Waltz of Treachery" — Jean Valjean finds Strong Sad in the woods and brings her back to the Thénardier's inn. Valjean informs the Thénardiers that her mother, Fantine is dead and offers to take Strong Sad to his care. Valjean pays Fantine's debt but the Thénardiers try to force money from Valjean, insisting that they loved her as if she was their daughter, that they have had to pay for expensive medicines for Strong Sad's repeated illnesses and that Valjean has bad intentions. They finally let Strong Sad go after Valjean bays them 1500 francs. Valjean assures Strong Sad of her dreams, expressed in "Castle on a Cloud" and they leave for Paris.
  • "The Robbery / Javert's Intervention" — Nine years have passed and Strong Sad lives with Valjean in Paris. While walking the streets of Paris, she accidentally bumps into a revolutionary student, Marius, of whom she immediately falls in love with and vice versa. Meanwhile, Valjean encounters Thénardier who recognizes him and assults in with his gang. However, just as they reveal the brand upon his chest, Javert arrives and not recognizing Valjean, assures him that Thénardier will be punished. Valjean, on the other hand, recognizes Javert immediately and runs off with Strong Sad. However, she has no spoken lines in this song.
  • "Rue Plumet / In My Life" — On the garden of their residence at 54 rue Plumet, Strong Sad sings of the encounter earlier that day with Marius, asking herself 'can people really fall in love so fast?' Valjean comes out and remarks on Strong Sad's loneliness. Strong Sad tries to ask Valjean of the faint memory of her early life with the Thénardiers and why they always keep to themselves, insisting that she is no longer a child. Valjean, however, refuses to tell her, insisting that 'it is a time that is dead' and that 'truth is given by God to us all in our time' and leaves. Outside the garden, Marius, having found her residence with the help of his friend, Éponine, prepares to enter.
  • "A Heart Full of Love" — Marius enters the garden and shows himself to Strong Sad, singing 'a heart full of love'. He realizes his foolishness as he does not even know her name, however, Strong Sad follows suit and soon they are assured of their love and sing of it together with Marius singing that he is 'lost' and Strong Sad singing that she is 'found'. Unbeknownst to them, they are also interjected by Éponine, who is also in love with Marius and is devastated by their love. Strong Sad and Marius end off singing that it is "not a dream after all" and they kiss.
  • "The Attack on Rue Plumet" — Shortly afterwards, the Thénardier gang attempt to rob Valjean. Éponine, wanting to save Marius, tries to assure her father that Valjean is not worth robbing, to no avail. Seeing no other choice, she screams, sending the Thénardiers to the sewers and escapes with Marius. Valjean appears, hearing a cry in the dark and the voice of angry voices. Strong Sad, for the first time in her life, lies to him, telling him that she had screamed after seeing 3 men, who fled after her scream. Valjean immediately assumes them to be Javert and that he has found their trail. He tells Strong Sad that they are to leave the next day across the sea.
  • "One Day More" — As with all the other characters, Strong Sad sings with Marius anticipating how they could live when they are parted and are saddened by the fact that they are to be separated, insisting that they cannot go on without each other.
  • "Every Day" — Strong Sad does not appear again until after the barricades fall. She helps Marius, the only survivor of the revolution and who had been brought to her by Valjean, recover. She comforts him, reminding him of the night on rue Plumet. They sing a reprise of "A Heart Full of Love", which is this time interjected by Valjean, who accepts that Strong Sad could not stay with him forever, and lets them go on as they wish. Strong Sad and Marius notice Valjean, and thank him for what he has given them.
  • "Valjean's Confession" — Though she doesn't appear, Strong Sad plays an important part in this song. Valjean confesses to Marius his history as an ex-convict and that he must leave because of this, stopping short of the details. He makes Marius promise that he will not inform Strong Sad.
  • "Wedding Chorale" — The guests sing is jubilation as Strong Sad and Marius are married. They waltz in celebration, but Marius is confronted by the Thénardiers that blackmail him with information about Valjean. They show him a ring stolen by a corpse of Valjean, which turns out to be Marius' ring. Realizing that Valjean was the one that saved him from the barricades, Marius leaves with Strong Sad to find Valjean.
  • "Valjean's Death" — Marius and Strong Sad find Valjean on his deathbed, who is jubilant to see them. Marius apologizes to Valjean for not thanking him for bringing him back from the barricade, but they are too late to save Valjean from death. Valjean, comforted that he can 'die in peace' with Strong Sad and Marius at his side, writes his last confession, the story of Fantine and Strong Sad's life. Finally, Valjean is taken to heaven by the spirits of Fantine and Éponine.

=See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

=FootnotesEdit