Women in Need
Inside the Family
Making Ends Meet
When it comes to money, everyone
wants a piece of the pie! Charity and welfare fall under a heading
of need. Post-Revolution in Paris, in the mid 19th century, the
urban poor of Paris longed for clothes on their back, food in their
bowls, and some change in their pockets. The idea of "charity"
developed through many stages often being opposed by some, it was
nonetheless was able to provide for a number of people. However
the process to receive charity or welfare was a struggle that many
19th century France, poverty made up a large portion of the population.
Eponine and the Thenardiers "just got by". Had she had
the opportunities to receive welfare she might have been able to
live more comfortably. Victor Hugo presents Eponine as a sympathetic
character, he illustrates the poor through a spectrum of personalities.
Although stereotypically the poor were thought of as criminals,
Hugo paints Eponine as a good person who was born into an unfortunate
social class. Welfare was scarce and still under construction. Up
until this point, most Catholic churches
were the only form of charity provided for the poverty stricken.
"Eponine" From Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
assistance began after the revolution, slowly getting on its feet
it provided welfare to mothers in need. However the process to receive
the welfare was a hill that still needed to be overcome. Many families
were in need of food, clothing, and shelter. Women, especially mothers
were in dyer need of assistance. Many were pregnant, single, or already
had so many children they were forced to abandon
their children or forced to witness their exploitation. A woman's
role as a single mother or single lady was one of many hardships.
[Click picture to view enlarged and discussion]
If a women decided to file for financial
aid (and she was a mother or single) her life was interrogated on
all levels. Regulating welfare to women was a job no one wanted.
Through the struggle of the poor in France there existed women who
were activists fighting for the welfare
of their fellow citizens. Women worked together and lead protests;
objecting loudly against unemployment, high rents, and starvation
wages. Economic inequality and poverty were the social issues that
arose among the urban poor. They argued that private philanthropists
were not longer sufficing their needs, they needed the intervention
of the state.
"Scenes of Paris - A meeting of
the women's club in the church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois" by
Frederic Lix (1871) [picture left]
|An ironic stereotype of the poor emerged from this time
period. The ides that even though the government attempted to aid
mothers, the bureaucracy of the welfare system kept many from receiving
their good intentions. Social stereotypes of the poor in 19th century
France included the poor woman's struggle. Many women did indeed struggle,
but within the women struggling lived activists among them, acting
in their interests. Another stereotype was made by officials within
the government. Because of the Bourgeoisie's complaining and constant
disgust towards the poor, government officials attempted a welfare
system. A system only to be improved upon because of its meager beginnings.
France undeniably held stereotypes of the poor, but it was the poor
themselves who broke down those barricades held up against them.
|This page was created and maintained by Lynn