Les Femmes Dangereuses

Victor Hugo on Prostitutes

" She was young,and pretty?"


Les Miserables Online Picture

Victor Hugo, among other artists of the time, observed and wrote about what was happening to this quickly evolving "dangerous"class of women with a sympathetic view. Through the creation of Fantine in Les Misérables, we are shown that there is nothing to fear:
" She was young,-and pretty? Her hair, one blonde mesh of which had fallen seemed very thick, but it was severely fastened up beneath an ugly, close, narrow nun's head-dress, tied under the chin. Laughing shows fine teeth when one has them but she did not laugh."
This description of a once virtuous woman turned "dangerous" evokes sympathy for Fantine. Hugo tries to illustrate that when there is poverty of the people, there is also poverty in thier minds. Whether they are keeping themselves or others from starving, the bourgeoisie (esp. the upper class) thought of them all the same way.

Actual Statistics and Hugo's work

Statistics gathered at the actual time when prostitution was at its included percentages on why women turned to prostitution. Interestingly enough, there was a considerable percentage of women who found themselves in the same situation as Fantine: left by their student lovers.

(Harsin, 122)