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Fantine

Fantine

Although all of Fantine’s misfortunes are caused by the callousness or greed of others, society always holds her accountable for her behavior. In this sense, she embodies Hugo’s view that French society demands the most from those to whom it gives the least. Fantine is a poor, working-class girl from the desolate seacoast town of Montreuil-sur-mer, an orphan who has almost no education and can neither read nor write. Fantine is inevitably betrayed by the people she does trust: Tholomyès gets her pregnant and then disappears; the Thénardiers take Cosette and use the child to extort more money; and Fantine’s coworkers have her fired for indecency. In his descriptions of Fantine’s life and death, Hugo highlights the unfair attitude of French society toward women and the poor. Fantine’s fellow citizens criticize her for her behavior and depravity, but they also take every opportunity to make her circumstances even more desperate.

Hugo’s portrayal of Fantine’s mistreatment distinguishes the honest, hardworking poor from the parasitic opportunism of the working-class Thénardiers. By juxtaposing Fantine with the Thénardiers, Hugo suggests that poverty does not necessarily equal indecency. In doing so, he condemns a system that allows the indecent poor to survive even as it crushes the honest and needy.

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What makes Valjean a hard and hateful man?
Prison
Poverty
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Les Miserables Analysis

by Adi31415, March 28, 2013

Les Miserables is based around the turning point in French history, and it explores the nature of this change in terms of society, and uses this as a basis for explaining the revolution. It explains how the ‘miserables’, or ‘victims’, damned into a life of thievery and being the scum of the Earth aren’t inherently bad. The society which has not given them a chance forces them to be bad, or do bad things. Instead of understanding their inner goodness and their plight to change their ways, or giving them some kindness or hope, they a... Read more

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Correction to Note 1 in Study Section

by IleneRM, October 24, 2013

It says: "Fantine falls in love with Tholomyès, a debonair upper-class student who obeys upper-class social customs and leaves Fantine even though she is pregnant with his child." This is wrong. Fantine was not pregnant. Ten months after the affair ended, Cosette was almost 3 years old; therefore she was already born when he left Fantine.

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12 out of 20 people found this helpful

Study Questions - error in #1

by IleneRM, October 24, 2013

It says: "Fantine falls in love with Tholomyès, a debonair upper-class student who obeys upper-class social customs and leaves Fantine even though she is pregnant with his child." This is wrong. Fantine was not pregnant. Ten months after the affair ended, Cosette was almost 3 years old; therefore she was already born when he left Fantine.

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