The Ways Jean Valjean Both Helps and Hinders Cosette in Les Miserables

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The Ways Jean Valjean both Helps and Hinders Cosette in Les Miserables

In the 19th century of France most of the children were poor orphans because parents could not provide for their children. Usually they would throw the boys on the streets but keep the girls because they could make profit off of them. However, some orphans like Cosette as portrayed in Les Miserables found someone who would love and care for them. Upon careful research this paper will show not only how Jean Valjean helped Cosette but also how he hindered her. In this case Jean Valjean represents the allegory of the New France and Cosette represents the women of France, so the way Valjean treats her shows us how the New France treated women.

The impoverished conditions in 19th century France was horrid. Most people were unemployed and most of the children lived on the streets. Life was extremely difficult insofar as employment was so scarce. To the extent that money and food was so hard to find, some people like Jean Valjean had to turn to criminal actions just to survive. The only way to get a good job in the 19th century France was to be skilled and educated, but education and being skilled was very rare. “People were often illiterate and unskilled. So they commonly became prostitutes, vagabonds, or criminals in order to survive” (mtholyoke.edu). Abandoned children often were taken in by religious groups. While with them the only education they got involved religion which was put before everything else. This caused them to grow up with no way to support themselves let alone a family. Most people had to stoop down to low paying jobs requiring basically no prior skills. Another factor which made life very difficult was the fact that once you were poor it was very difficult to become even a middle class citizen. Businesses did not give people much of a chance to make a good pay if they were unskilled and uneducated. Those were the two biggest factors for what kind of jobs people could get....
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