Friday, June 16, 2017

The people as mob in literature

Shakespeare's drama apart, oes it appear anywhere else than in Hugo?

The canaille are much encouraged to hatred and violence when Sachette denounces Esmeralda.

It will later be revealed by cornball Hugo that, unbeknownst to the principals, Sachette is Esmeralda's mother.

The criminal rabble of the Court of Miracles who toy with the life of Gringoire are, in his (the translator's) words, merely the lowest stratum of the people, while the latter are presented by our author as scarcely less cruel and brutish than those lumpenproles.

As we see in their hate-fest of enjoyment of the wholly undeserved flogging of Quasimodo in the Place de Grève.

One can't help think of John Gay or Daniel Defoe.

Or Bertolt Brecht.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hugo indulges a bit of the delusional fantasy seen at greater length in Les Miserables than here in his presentation of the lives of street children in Paris - gamins, as he calls them - , never considering for a moment in either novel whether the fate of actual street children, mostly, is to be victims of sexual predation.

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