Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Armand St. Just: To Hate or Not To Hate?

When I was younger, one of my very favorite movies was the 1950 Walt Disney adaption of Treasure Island.  (I still really like it and would definitely recommend it-- look it up!) The book captivated me when I was ten, and the movie brought all the swashbuckling adventure to life--with some hilarious quotes not found in the novel.  "Ye're a one-legged man with a foot in both camps," one of the mutineers snarls to Long John Silver near the end of the film, and that quote became a bit of a catchphrase in my family.  It frequently comes to my mind when I think of my own attitude toward Armand St. Just... in fact, it's pretty accurate (except for the fact that I'm a woman with two legs... but that's irrelevant).

The fact is, I really can't decide how I feel about Armand.  There are moments when I would be perfectly happy to send him off to the guillotine (if it weren't for the fact that Percy would then have to rush Into the Fire to save him, thereby putting his life on the line yet again for Armand's sake, and I don't want to put Percy in danger).  There are moments when I pity him and feel that even though he might not be the most prudent of men, he's not completely to blame for the messes he gets himself into.  Frankly, I just can't decide.

In reading posts on The Day Dream and chatting about TSP with fellow fans (er, I mean Leaguettes) I've found a divided camp.  Some loathe, abhor and detest Armand almost as much as they do Chauvelin.  (And, um, I'm one of those people who has to keep telling herself to hate Chauvelin for the first two-thirds of the 1982 movie.  *ducks tomatoes*)  Some like and defend him, though of course he can never compare to Percy.  And some, like me, are in the middle of muddle.  I'm in the middle of a muddle, in the middle of a muddle am I...

Ahem.  Moving on.

Let's begin by looking at Armand's bad points.  They are manifold.  Then we will look at Armand's good points.  I'm sure I'll be able to think of something.  (By the way, in this post I'm going to be considering the Armand of the books and the Armand of the 1982 movie, and I'll be switching back and forth between them without much prior warning, so be aware. :D)

Points Against Armand

1- Armand is not Percy.  
Therefore, he is not Ultimately Awesome. This, I think, speaks for itself.

2- Armand's loose lips can sink ships.
Seriously.  As far as Armand knows in the movie, Percy is just some random idiot who happened to rescue him from being beat up one fine summer evening.  (Pardon the momentary heresy, y'all.) Sure, he owes Percy something for having saved his life-- but that doesn't give him an excuse to bare his soul to Percy.  Especially since Percy has (presumably) only played the fool in front of Armand.  So why, then, does Armand feel it's okay to start blabbing about plans to rescue the Count de Tournay? Percy could be a spy for the Republic, for Pete's sake!  I think we tend to gloss over this one because, after all, WE know that Percy is the hero and therefore it's okay to tell him anything.  But Armand doesn't know that.  Why can't he keep his big mouth shut?

Then there's the time when Baron de Batz manages to winkle it out of Armand that he is, in fact, a member of the League.  That's when I do my spot-on impression of Vizzini's DNYEAAAAAH.  *slams head against wall*  Two words, Armand.  Duct tape.  Two more words. ON MOUTH.

Completely random and fangirly side note: doesn't Percy look
awesome in this picture?  Okay, like he ever DOESN'T...
3- Armand disobeys Percy's orders and ends up landing Percy in Chauvelin's hands.
Pardon me while I do a Mr.-Knightley-esque ERRRRMMMMMMMM.  There is one excuse and one excuse only for disobeying Percy's orders, and that is if you are Percy himself and have changed your mind about the appropriate course of action.  End.  Of.  Story.  Love and all that mushy-gush can wait.  If Percy tells you to jump, you say, "How high?"  Got it?

4- Armand doesn't trust Percy to get his girlfriend out of danger.
Armand, seriously.  You need your head examined.  This is Percy we're talking about.  Getting people out of danger is his day job! Don't forget it--you'll regret it.  Percy knows best.

5- The whole Louise-and-Armand-not-being-actually-married-but-acting-like-they-are.
Um.  This is my biggest problem with Armand-of-the-movie.  'Nuff said.
(I do want to point out that this isn't even hinted at in the books, though.  Sigh.  Why, why, why did it have to be in the movie?)

Points For Armand

*thinks very hard*
Okay, okay.

1- Armand's heart is in the right place. 
Sure, he's not the greatest guy that ever lived, but he does WANT to do the right thing.  Even if he doesn't always, you know, do it.  But to quote Maria Elisabeth, "Idealists are problematic.  As Marguerite said, 'I wish you had not so many lofty virtues. Little sins are far less dangerous and uncomfortable.' While the moral truth of that is more than doubtful and even I don't think Armand has very many lofty virtues, she has a point. Every bad thing Armand does comes from a good motive. A selfish feeling like cowardice would have made a lot less trouble."
...What she said.

2- Armand truly loves his sister.  
This isn't shown as much in the movie as it is in the books, but it's still there.  Marguerite and Armand are super-close--they have the ideal sibling relationship.  I mean, who doesn't go "awww" when Armand gives Marguerite away at the wedding?  Awwww.

3- Armand is not Percy.
I know this was originally listed in the Points Against Him, but really folks, we need to cut him some slack.  In comparison with the Baronet himself, everyone else in TSP looks like a half-dead fish.  (Except Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, who is awesome.  But not as awesome as Percy.)  So really, is it fair to compare poor Armand with Percy's Lightburst of Complete Awesomeness?  (And is it fair to use the L of CA to describe Percy, or is that copyrighted for Enjolras' use alone?)

4- Percy forgives Armand for betraying him.
Ought we not to do the same?
"We are men, Armand, and the word forgiveness has only been spoken once these past two thousand years, and then it was spoken by Divine lips," Percy writes to Armand in El Dorado.  (Read the full letter here.)   And yet Percy forgives Armand anyway.  Forgives the man who betrayed Percy and his entire band of faithful followers, who plunged Percy's beloved wife into danger, who directly disobeyed Percy's strictest orders,  who unwittingly wrote Percy's death sentence.  Sir Percy Blakeney forgives him.I'm a sucker for forgiveness stories.  (Les Miserables turns me into a bawling wreck every time.)   TSP was not necessarily written from a Christian perspective (though elements of El Dorado lead me to believe that it might have been), yet the story is one that reflects the sacrificial, forgiving love that Christ displays to His people.  (You can read more on this subject here, by the way-- yes, I blatantly stole my thesis for this from my incredibly insightful sister.  She's not going to sue me.)

So, folks, that's Armand.  There's a lot against him.  There's a lot for him.  But the biggest element on Armand's side is that Percy forgives him, trusts him and believes in him... and that's enough for me.

I've officially resigned from the Hating Armand St. Just Club.  I still won't say I really truly like him, but I'll tolerate him.  Baby steps, you know.

And he still ain't Percy.


Maria Elisabeth said...

Totally unconnected, but that ribbon Armand's wearing in the top ribbon looks exactly like the ribbons on the medals in my spelling bee a few years ago.

Ugh, Armand.

He makes me groan every time I think of him, but I can't hate him. He is just good at making a big mess of his life.

"If Percy tells you to jump, you say, "How high?" Got it?"
Very good advice. Fortunately Armand - and that silly Devinne - are the only ones who seem to need it.

Oh. I have actually defended him before, so I am bound in honor not to hate him. Good to know.

In comparison, yes. But in himself, Lord Tony doesn't look like a half-dead fish. Not. At. All.

This is probably as close to Leaguette-heresy as I'm ever going to get, but I do doubt Percy's sense - ahem, knowledge of human nature - when he trusts Armand. You know, you can forgive him, like him, even, but don't trust Armand until he's learned his lesson. I sincerely hope he has.

An Old-Fashioned Girl said...

Great post, Amy! You have me convinced- I don't hate Armand so much now!

Alexandra said...

Armand, Armand. I am proud to head the "hating" club. At least the film version's Armand. All haters, please come over here by me. There we are. We have frappachinos and dark chocolate and "We Hate Armand" shirts. We even have a theme song. Don't know what it is yet, but I'm working on it.

Ok, so seriously, awesome post, Amy!!! Every time I got on to post something I'd see it in draft and think, MAN, hope she posts that soon! :)

OHMYGOODNESSIFEELLIKEAHORRIBLELEAGUETTE. You know it NEVER OCCURED TO ME that he BLABBED all that to Percy!!!! OMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, it's one of my favorite Percy scenes so I'm always just like, Percy, Percy, Percyyyy! And never even THOUGHT about how he was telling a perfect stranger (AND an idiot to boot - forgive me, Percy schweetums, that's just what they thought) all about his plans to help the de Tournays! Ohhhhh, wow. This just confirms how much of an idiot he is. Sorry.:-D

But the Baron one, though...sheeeesh. I always get SO annoyed with him at that point. Ugh.

I would walk 500 miles for you, Percy! Jump? I can do anything if you were standing there asking (as AA, of course. Hehe.) If you want me to, I can fly!

SERIOUSLY, Percy does this ALL THE TIME. And suddenly you think he can't? Where is your brain?! (Non-existent, as we've all ready deduced. Have another piece of chocolate.)

And the whole Armand-Louise thing was so totally random. Sigh.

Does Armand have a heart? (you hear a big collective Ooooooooh! from The Haters) Hehehe.

Um, Amy. He can't help loving Marguerite. Everyone loves Marguerite. Baroness O mentions it a hundred times. Hardly a virtue. Hehehe.

Percy, as the Ultimate Hero of all Time, originated the title of LofCA. Enjo just borrowed it. So yes, it is perfectly acceptable. Especially AA and Ramin, because they are both in the Awesomest Actors Evah circle. So they all share the LofCA. That was random. Anyway.

You had to bring the Letter up again and make me sob. You just had to. And now I've got to redo my makeup sliding down my face. Hehe.

I think there was at least a major Christian influence (in the creation/character of the hero, hello! :-P), and yeah...just gets me every time.

To sum it up, I just steal your wee phrase. Hope you don't mind.

He just ain't Percy. :)

Anne-girl said...

Ally! I must deal with this with immediate dealings.

As A leaguettes we are bound to forgive and love Armand.


*leauguetts take a collective breath so that they can all squeal together*

BECAUSE PERCY DOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh and we who love Armand for Percy's sake have flags made of white silk with red scarlet pimpernels embroidered on the. And the armbands that Percy wears in the cart scene.

We also have cheesecake.

Anonymous said...

Argh, Armand.... Alexandra, I'm with you - frappachinos and dark chocolate and shirts and theme song and all. Haters, unite!!!

Thanks for attempting, Amy, but... okay, so I don't HATE him much, but after he doesn't trust Percy to save Louise?! And all that in the book.... I felt like SHOOTING him!! (You guys know that... I think I said it a few times in the comments while I read El Dorado.) Anywhoz, yeah, he's not Percy, but he's not Percy. That's why I still don't like him. And for being such a fop - he's more of a fop than Percy, if you think about it! (Minus all of the lace....)

Argh, Louise and Armand! *gags* I HATE those two parts. Makes me hate Armand even more... if that's possible.

Lightburst of Complete Awesomeness... heehee. Yeah, well, like Alexandra said, it first applied to Percy, then Ramin. (And I totally agree with you that AA and RK are in the Awesomest Actors Evah circle!!)

Amy,your points towards him are all right and great and all, but... I think for me, personally, his bad outweighs his good. Sorry. Proud member of The Haters Club over here!

One last thing (heehee... this is, like, my shortest comment on ANY blog for a LONG time!) - when Percy says, "Jump," do NOT hesitate! Jump as high as you can, then, WHILE you're doing it, ask how high. Immediate obedience, y'all. : D


Anonymous said...

Anne-girl - ..... Good point. Okay, I forgive him. But that doesn't mean that I have to like him, right?!

Ooh, are you selling those flags in a scarf form! It'll go great with my SP ring!! And the cheesecake MUST have scarlet pimpernels on it. End of story.


Miss Melody Muffin said...

Oh, fantastic post, Amy!!! I had been meditating doing one on my blog titled: Why I don't hate Armand St. Just but you beat me to it.

Honestly, I've never been able to hate or even really dislike the Armand of the books. I've deeply pitied him, shaken my head in frustration at his blindness, his refusal to trust Percy, and his impulsiveness, but, I've never been able to hate him. I've even sympathised with him (when he's hating himself after he betrayed Percy). I've pitied him for not being able to see that Percy WAS capable of love (more than capable!) and thus not feeling that he could trust Percy to rescue his ladylove. And, I wholeheartedly agree with your 'Percy forgave him so we should too'. I have to say, I'm not a crying girl, but when I first read that letter in El Dorado I could hardly see the page for tears! (Let's not talk about what the whole book did for my state of mind!) I have those words engraved on my brain people, 'We are men, Armand...'

And, am I the only person who wished Baroness O. would have included Armand in some of the later stories? IMHO. he did learn his lesson for good in El Dorado, and I would have thought that, based on his wholehearted forgiveness of Armand, Percy would at least have let him carry out League activities in England. But other than a few passing mentions, we don't hear of him after El Dorado.

As for the Armand of the movies, well, his betrayal is made less serious than it was in the book; but I detested the he-and-Louise-unmarried-but-together storyline. I hadn't thought of the blabbing to Percy angle either!

I hate the Baron de Batz!!! The one thing I dislike about the movie is that he actually got to help spirit the Dauphin away!!! I mean, come on; he was a jerk, arrogant, sneaky, conniving, and just ugh! Frankly, it is one of two things I would change about the move *ducks in case this is considered heresy*. (Of course the other thing I'd change is the whole Armand Louise thing.)

Into the fire has become one of my newest favorite songs! Right alongside Do You Hear The People Sing, Red and Black, (and ok, every one of the Friends of the ABC's songs!).

I'd like to hear more about the Awesomest Actors Evah circle!! I can totally see Anthony Andrews in there, and even though I'm new to Ramin K. I can very much see him there too. (You all have quite solidly converted me to a Ramin fan!) :)

Love the Princess Bride quote Alexandra! Still haven't seen that movie YET (except for YouTube clips).

Anne, can I have a flag, too! :)

Ok, this comment was bit disjointed I'm afraid. I guess I'm way more overtired than I thought!

Alexandra said...

Ok, Anne, I stand rebuked. Percy would forgive him. But Percy is Amazing and we could never aspire to be as awesome as he is. I try to forgive him but I just never quite can. :-P

Gotta remember the first time I saw this and was just about to tear Armand's head off for betraying Percy. The emotions were running high. And every time I watch it I feel that bit of hate still in there. Hehehehe.

And yes, I want a flag, too!

Thanks, Melody Muffin! I was wondering if Amy would catch it...hehehehe. Hello, schweetums? :-P

And it's not heresy...I hate the Baron, too, and I have no clue why he was allowed to help them out. I mean...now he knows all the League dudes and everything! He could betray them to Chauvelin! Sigh. Percy knows best, I guess. :-P

And Eowyn - you're totally right. Jump first, ask questions later. :-D

Anna Grace said...

I agree with everything you said. I would just add that I actually really liked him once I read El Dorado and it showed how badly he felt. I mean.... Horrid. *nods head* yup. I like Armand.


Katrina DeLallo said...

I hated Armand in the books. Hated. Unrequitedly. He was such a wimp of a character.

In the movie, I don't hate him so much, but I think, like you, the thing that really turned me off him was his too-intimate relationship with a girl he wasn't married to, yet. (I don't much care for her, either, except in the one scene where she tricks Chauvelin into thinking it's LOUIS St. Just in her boudoir. Just sayin', that's some quick thinking.)

I tolerate him. Sometimes I kind of think he's okay, sometimes I think he's not okay at all. Other times, I just endure his presence on the screen, or in the book. :-)

Maria Elisabeth said...

Oh, Ally. Frappachinos and dark chocolate AND a theme song! But Anne has armbands and cheescake AND pimpernel-embroidered flags. As one of the women with a foot in both camps, do I get to be with both of you?

Y'know, loving Armand for Percy's sake but hating him for his own. :P

Miss Dashwood said...

Maria, as one of the women with a foot in both camps, I invite you to join MY camp, the Philippa Gordon Seesawing Camp. :D We have lemon pie and chocolate cheesecake. The best of both worlds, you know.

Wait... did I miss something? What was I supposed to catch, Ally?

Hayden said...

I am now officially joining the Philippa Gordon see-sawing camp.

All these comments are making me laugh.

Seriously, though, I don't say I hate Armand...I just...what's the word?...look at him with... disdain? But sometimes I dislike him more than other times, and sometimes I'm just...neutral.

He's not all that great, but I mean, he's not Chauvelin, after all.

Alexandra said...

Oh, the "if you want I can fly" comment. :-P You just always catch the Princess Bride quotes (or paraphrases :-P). Hehehe, I guess I just slipped it in there without you noticing this time. Iz feelz very smart, yup, yup! Hehehe.

Miss Dashwood said...

Oooh, I did notice that, I just forgot to say anything about it. Hahahahaha. (And you're rolling your eyes and going, "yeah, riiiiiiight," but really I did catch it. :D)

Anonymous said...

I'm one of Armand's most ardent defenders. I realize he has flaws, but I love him anyway. I'm still sure that part of it was I was exposed to these stories first through the musical, which really does get around the sticky mess of the betrayal. In the musical, Armand is very, very young--usually portrayed in his late teens. So by the time I got my hands on the original book and then El Dorado I already loved him and was prepared to forgive him about anything.

I read a lot into Percy's forgiveness and Armand's eagerness to (rather tardily) give his life for Percy. Also, I really do think him not participating in any of the League activities after that is because he knows he's just not suited to it and stays home. (And there is that throwaway line in the one book about him marrying. I really pray sometimes that it wasn't Jeanne.)

Anyway, this can't be an entire essay, but I wanted to share some of my thinking after loving this character for so long and role-playing him quite a bit over the years as well.