Barricades and Wands: Comparing the Les Amis de la ABC and Dumbledore's Army
By Miryam Raizen
ABSTRACT: If you have ever read the novel or seen the show of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" and wondered if perhaps there might be some slight similarities between the students in Dumbledore's Army and students who fight on the barricade, you are are correct.
Question: What are the similarities and differences between Dumbledore's Army and the Les Amis de la ABC?
The Les Amis de la ABC were a small group of revolutionaries who took part in the barricades of 1832. Victor Hugo described them as "students, in close association with a few workingmen. The names of the Principals are as follows. To a certain extent they belong to history: Enjolras, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Lesgle or Laigle, Joly, Grantaire" (648). Each one had a very distinct personality and place in the group. The group was essentially headed by Enjolras, a young man said to have angelic features, and yet he was fear inspiring. His friends were ready to lay down their lives and fight alongside him. One of his right hand men was Combeferre, a medical student and a philosopher who always tried to take things logically and come up with a good solid plan. The other whom Hugo describes as the "Center" is Courfeyrac, a young law student who fancies himself as somewhat of a dandy. Although he tends to be a womanizer he does have respect for all men and women. Following these three are the other principals the first being Jean Prouvaire or "Jehan" and young Romantic poet who according to Hugo "spoke gently, bowed his head, cast down his eyes, smiled with embarrassment, dressed badly, had and awkward air, blushed at nothing, was very timid" (652). Feuilly on the other hand is different from the others because he is not actually a student, he is a young working man who taught himself to read and write, he is an orphan who adopted the people of Paris as his family. After Feuilly is Bahorel a man who has connections with more groups than just the Les Amis. He brings in news from all over Paris but is very lax in his studies. One of the more interesting students is Laigle, who is most commonly called Bossuet. He is a very unlucky man who was bald at the age of 25. Despite his misfortune, he is one of the happiest members of the group. Laigle was a very good friends with Joly, a medical student like Combeferre, but he happens to be a hypochondriac and chronically thinks he is ill. The last of the principles is Grantaire, a cynical drunk who has no belief in anything but Enjolras, who sees him as nothing more than a drunken fool. One more name that can be counted amongst these men is Marius Pontmercy, although he had little to no involvement with any of the students except Courfeyrac up until the 1832 barricades.
In contrast, Dumbledore's Army was not intended to be a revolutionary group as it eventually became. Instead it was created to prepare the students of Hogwarts
to fight against the darkness that they knew was coming. Also, unlike the Les Amis, they did very little to directly fight against the government. They had no real battle except for one that occurred near the end of Order of the Phoenix in the Ministry. In the book Harry Potter: Film Wizardry, Daniel Radcliffe says, "Dumbledore's Army is basically a guerrilla revolutionary organization. And it's Harry who's the teacher, using knowledge that he has gained over the last five years to train other people and teach them how to fight if they are called upon to do so" (122). As stated, Harry is leading the group but unlike Enjolras, he is not as keen to do so. He is not very confident with his skills and does not want these people to eventually lay down their lives for him.
There are some similarities however amongst the other members of Dumbledore's Army to Les Amis. One of the first being Hermione Granger, a very bright witch who usually has the best plans takes the place of Combeferre. Ron Weasley takes the place of Courfeyrac; although he has less of the Courfeyrac's flirtatious tendencies, he has a loyalty to Harry that Courfeyrac showed Enjolras. There are even some more minor members that show similarities to one another, the most prominent being Luna Lovegood, who shares some of Jean Prouvaire's more quirky traits - this includes her wistful nature, her taste in clothes - yet when the time comes she shows a strength among the others and means a lot to the group.
These two groups of revolutionaries had very different agendas, each one with their own ideals in what they were fighting for. They did share a similar structure of how they ran their operations, and eventually for different reasons fought against their own government. The story of the Les Amis de la ABC might be easier to understand because it was loosely based around actual events that occurred in French History; Dumbledore's Army is a group of wizards that inadvertently got involved in a fight against the government.