Patron-Minette was the name given to the
Thénardiers' street gang in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérablesand the musical of the same name. They acted as secondary villains and were referred to, in the book, as 'Devils of Crime'. The gang, excluding Monsieur Thénardier and his wife, consisted of Montparnasse, Claquesous, Babet, and Gueulemer.
Montparnasse was, in the words of Hugo, "scarcely more than a child, a youth of under twenty with a pretty face, cherry-lips, glossy dark hair and the brightness of Springtime in his eyes. ... The gamin turned vagabond and the vagabond become an assassin ... A fashion plate living in squalor and committing murder."
Claquesous, as described by the author, was a creature of the night, and a vague underworld dweller at best, a ventriloquist, more often masked than not and shrouded in a thick cloud of mystery.
Babet was a jack of all trades, a performer, a dentist, tall and thin with "daylight ... visible through his bones." He had a family (a wife and children) at one point, but lost them "as one loses a pocket handkerchief."
Gueulemer is described as the most physically imposing of the gang members, "a Hercules ... come down in the world." However, he was known to have very little brain.
The Gang in the Musical
Interestingly, the character of Gueulemer is replaced by Brujon, who appears in the novel but not as one of the Patron-Minette quartet. The gang first appears in "Look Down/The Robbery/Javert's Intervention" at which point they are introduced to the audience by Thénardier ("Everyone here?/You know your place./ Brujon, Babet, Claquesous!/ You, Montparnasse / Watch for the law with Éponine..."). Montparnasse also appears in a brief scene with Éponine at the beginning of "The Attack on Rue Plumet" That scene is often been cut from recordings. The gang attempts to rob Jean Valjean's house until Éponine, afraid that Marius will think her a criminal, screams to send them away.
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