The Working Classes in Revolutionary France

The Story of Fantine




The character of Fantine is one of the most tragic figures in Les Miserables. She is completely a victim of circumstance, and as such, her tragic fate befalls her through no fault of her own. She was an abandoned child, and while it tells little of her childhood, when we meet her she is working in a factory. There she meets and falls in love with an older student, who does not return her love, but takes advantage of her, and abandons her when she discovers she is pregnant. She cannot afford her child, and though she loves her with all her heart she must leave her with an innkeeper and his wife. They are not good people, and they constantly try to extort more and more money from Fantine by saying that her daughter needs things, and they will put her on the street in Fantine does not send money. She gets a job at a factory, butshe is fired after they learn she has an illegitimate child.She gets a job making shirts and is paid by the piece, but the innkeeper requests more and more money. After she sells her hair and teeth to send him money and he still wants more, she falls into prostitution. She is arrested, and almost thrown in jail, but the kind mayor of the town intervenes and sends her to a charity hospital and attampts to get her daughter for her but she dies before he is able.

From Victor Hugo's Les Miserables

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