Free Study Guide for Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: "Les Mis"|
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LES MISERABLES: FREE STUDY NOTES / LESSON PLANS
After supper, Tholomyes announces that the moment for the surprise has
come. The young men tell the girls to wait while they leave the inn on
an errand. An hour later a porter delivers a letter which tells the girls
that the men have left to return to their respective homes. This is their
surprise. For three of the girls, it is just a cruel joke at the hands
of men they didn’t care much about anyway. For Fantine, it is disaster,
for she not only loves Tholomyes but also has a child by him.
Fantine is the picture of innocent girlhood who is taken advantage of
by the playboy-type students. There is a stark if implicit double standard
at work as there seems to be no repercussion for Tholomyes, the father
of her child; Fantine herself, however, has to find a way to hide the
child in order to provide for it. She is parallel to Valjean in her plight,
as she is as much a prisoner of her mistakes as he is of his. Fantine
will die for her mistake, and in a way, Valjean will also, although for
him it will be much later in life.
Fantine has been abandoned for nearly two years. She has sold all of
her own finery, keeping only bare essentials in an attempt to care for
her baby Cosette. She decides to return to her native town, called simply
M-sur-m, but on the way she happens across Madame Thenardier who is sitting
outside an inn with her own two children. The youngest child is the same
age as Cosette and the children seem to play well together. The Thenardiers
agree to keep Cosette for a monthly fee-which soon goes up-some additional
expenses and her wardrobe. Fantine sends money faithfully, but as the
child grows, the Thenardiers soon abuse and neglect Cosette, even to the
point of using her as a slave. Fantine never knows her child’s true condition.
The introduction of the Thenardiers into the story brings in an evil element
that will become a complication for Valjean more than for Cosette. Although
they have the care of her for several years, they really have no affection
or interest in her. When Valjean appears on the scene and unwittingly
displays a contradiction between his appearance and his actual financial
situation, the ground is laid for Thenardier to attempt his fraudulent
practices at every opportunity. Thenardier himself is the lowest of unsavory
elements, and the loss of his inn will eventually reveal his true character.
The Thenardiess is no better, but is subject to her husband; thus she
exercises her own cruel nature on Cosette and neglects her own son.
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Ruff, Dr. Karen S. C., D. A.. "TheBestNotes on Les Miserables".
. 09 May 2017