Les Misérables



Fantine is an innocent girl who starts out from a place of extreme disadvantage. She has no parents, no money, and no one to advise her, and she is illiterate. In her innocence and trust, she is vulnerable to the cruelty and greed of others—first Tholomyes, then the Thenardiers, and finally the prejudiced and narrow-minded people of M. sur M. who strip her of her livelihood because she has an illegitimate child. Fantine’s downward spiral embodies a powerful critique of French society. In her progressive degradation, we see her victimized by a system that blames the poor and needy for their situation, rather than extending compassion. In particular, Hugo employs the character of Fantine to highlight the terrible plight of women who are ultimately forced to sell all they have left—their bodies—because the judgment of society has left them with no other option.

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Essays About Les Misérables