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...
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*
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.