Character Summary:Fantine

Fantine was an innocent, lead astray and seduced by a man she truly loved. Betrayed and abandoned she found herself pregnant, and despite attempts to reach the baby's father, alone. In her love for the illegitimate child, Cosette, she leaves her behind to be cared for by an innkeeper and his wife. She believed, that this family, with two young girls of their own, could nurture and care for Cosette better than she could herself. Fantine did everything she could to make sure that Cosette was well provided for and cared for. She gave the Innkeepers family whatever they asked for, denying necessities for herself to send all she could for Cosette, believing that they really would use what she sent for the care or Cosette.

When Fantine's supervisor in Valjean's factory discovers Cosette's existence Fantine is fired. The supervisor assumed that Fantine must be an immoral woman because she has a child out of wedlock, and told Fantine that she can not have such a woman among the others as she might lead them astray. Although Valjean knows nothing of this exchange, Fantine silently blamed him for this turn of events, and began to resent him for making her life harder.

Fantine did everything she can to continue to pay Cosette's way, and to survive herself. She sold her hair, her eyeteeth, and her body. She had tried everything possible before resorting to prostitution, but no one would hire someone with an illegitimate child, especially if they were sick, as Fantine became. Even providing for herself became hard through prostitution due to her growing illness. The only things she kept were a locket that she wanted Cosette to have, and the love she felt for her daughter.

After a scuffle on the streets, in which Fantine attempted to defend her self against to prominent citizens who were harassing her, Fantine is arrested by Javert. As Javert attempted to through Fantine in prison for six months, which would be a death sentence in her state of ill-health, Valjean came along and refused to let he be jailed. After an argument between Javert and Valjean, Fantine finds herself saved by the very man she blamed for her ill fortune. Valjean offered Fantine a chance at a second life, a safe place to recover and support so that she would never have to worry about providing for herself or Cosette again. Valjean assures her that 'God has never thought of you as anything but an innocent and beautiful woman'.

However, her body is so weak that she is only sustained by her love for Cosette and the hope of seeing her again. Before she dies, Fantine makes sure that Valjean, her savior, would come to the rescue of her child and raise her in the light. She only gives into death when Javert confronts Valjean in her sickroom, and she believes that he is there for her.

Character Quotes:

“I say nothing of Fantine, she is visionary, dreamy, pensive, sensitive; she is a phantom with the form of a nymph, and the modesty of the a nun, who has strayed into the life of a grisette, but who takes refuge in illusions, and who sings, and prays, and gazes at the sky without knowing clearly what she sees nor what she does, and who, with eyes fixed on heaven, wanders in a garden among more birds than exist there. Oh, Fantine, know this: I, Tholomyes, am an illusion – but she does not even hear me – the fair daughter of chimeras! Nevertheless, everything on her is freshness, gentleness, youth, soft, maternal clearness.”(P.115)

“She had a confused glimpse of the possible necessity of a separation still more painful than the first. Her heart ached, but she took her resolution. It will be seen that Fantine possessed the stern courage of life. She had already valiantly renounced her finery, was draped in calico, and had put all her silks, her gew-gaws, her ribbons, and laces on her daughter – the only vanity that remained, and that a holy one.” (P.125)

“The lower she sank, the more all became gloomy around her, the more the sweet little angel shone out from the bottom of her heart. She would say; ‘When I am rich, I shall have my Cosette with me;’ and she laughed. The cough did not leave her, and she had night sweats.”(P.154)

“It was not without some repugnance, at first, that the sisters received and cared for ‘this girl’…But in a few days Fantine had disarmed them. The motherly tenderness within her, with her soft and touching words, moved them. One day the sisters heard her say in her delirium: ‘I have been a sinner, but when I shall have my child with me, that will mean that Gad has pardoned me. While I was bad I would not have my Cosette with me; I could not have borne her sad and surprised looks. It was for her I sinned, and that is why God forgives me. I shall feel this benediction when Cosette comes. I shall gaze upon her; the sight of her innocence will do me good.’”(P.169)
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