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Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo

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Who is General Lamarque in Les Misérables?

General Lamarque was a real figure in French history, and in Les Misérables he is described as a brave champion of the people. Both in the story and in actual history, his death is the "spark" that sets off the Paris Uprising of 1832.

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General Lamarque was a real historical figure who served under Napoleon and died in 1832. In the novel, he is depicted as a true champion of the people. His death, the narrator explains, is the "spark" that ignites the Paris Uprising of 1832.

The novel describes Lamarque as a brave man of action who was beloved by the "populace." If Napoleon loved warfare and the army, Lamarque loved France. He is a good speaker and, for a long time, a living symbol of the old ideals of the French Revolution.

Lamarque's death is both anticipated and "dreaded" by the people. Many prepare to stage a revolt at his funeral to attain the kind of liberty from oppression he stood for. Many therefore come armed to the funeral procession as it winds through the streets of Paris. After Lafayette, a man they like, speaks and leaves, the people revolt. Because it had already become clear earlier that Lamarque's funeral was likely to be a site of trouble, the government's soldiers are at the ready. The armed mob and the soldiers predictably get into a violent conflict.

Lamarque does not enter the novel until he dies, so he functions primarily as a focal point and symbol of the liberty and care the French people want from their leaders but are not receiving.

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