Analysis of Fantine

Fantine’s story is very heartbreaking and tragic.

Major Spoiler

We first meet her during “At the End of the Day”. She is working at Valjean’s factory and the other factory workers have grown suspicious of her. At one point in the song, a factory woman sees her with this letter and steals it from her. The letter says that her daughter, Cosette, is seriously ill and needs money as soon as possible. But the heartbreaking part is that the letter is a hoax sent by the Thenardiers in order to scam her out of money. When Fantine was younger, she was quite naive and she had an affair with this man named Tholymés and they have a child together, but he completely abandons her and Cosette is about two or three at the time. Knowing that it would be hard to get a job with an illegitimate child, she left Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers.

Fantine has no clue that the Thenardiers are horribly abusing her daughter. Fantine and this factory woman get into a fight and Valjean arrives. Valjean asks the foreman to break it up. The factory workers confess that Fantine has a child and demands that she be fired. She ends up getting fired and Fantine becomes even more desperate. Her dreams are broken and she is devastated. She knows she somehow has to still provide for her child and make sure she is paid for and she really believes that her daughter is actually dying, but that is not even true. After being fired, Fantine blames Monsieur Madeline (AKA Valjean) for her being fired and she starts to have a dislike towards him, but Valjean has no idea that she was just fired due to having an illegitimate child.


At the docks, Fantine ends up selling her locket, her hair, and becomes a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter. At this time in France, women were not given many opportunities in the job world and it was dangerous to be known you have an illegitimate child. Right after Fantine becomes a prostitute, an abusive customer harasses her and in self-defense, she attacks the man. Javert is there at the scene and plans to arrest her because she attacked the man and only sees her as this prostitute. Fantine even tells him that she has a child, but even after that fact, Javert still shows her no mercy. Valjean sees the whole scene take place and intervenes to prevent Fantine from being arrested.

Fantine confesses to Valjean that she was fired from his factory. Out of mercy, Valjean has Fantine taken to the hospital because she has fallen seriously ill. Valjean feels guilty that Fantine was fired from his factory and wants to make up for it. On Fantine’s deathbed, she is still worried about her child and still cares. She doesn’t know what will happen to her child once she dies. Valjean agrees to Fantine that he will raise Cosette as his own and this decision allows Fantine to die in peace and comfort.


Fantine’s downfall wasn’t even her fault. Her downfall was due to society. She was abandoned by her lover and that was where her downfall actually begins. At the factory, it was the factory worker that demand she be fired. Fantine’s story shows how mistreated women were in nineteenth century France. Everything Fantine does is done out of love for her child and she is truly a mother.

As a matter of fact, Fantine was based off of reality. Victor Hugo saw a prostitute being harassed and that prostitute was about to be arrested, but Hugo intervened and prevented the arrest. That is when Hugo began to wonder what if this prostitute had a child and that was where the character of Fantine was inspired from.

Next analysis is for Cosette

Author: mphadventuregirl

I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog deals with spirituality and musicals. I am finding that by writing about these, I am realizing I know more about each of them then I think I do. I hope you find my blog inspiring!

19 thoughts on “Analysis of Fantine”

  1. Wonderful analysis! Super good insight into her character. I love how you talked about how Hugo got the idea for Fantine. I also thought that it was good how you talked about Fantine doing everything that she did for Cosette. I really think that that’s key to her character. That’s one of the reasons why I love the line from the German version of “I Dreamed a Dream” which almost directly translates to: “I’ll find you no matter what the world demands”. She’s clutching her locket that has Cosette’s hair and it’s just a really beautiful moment. Can’t wait to read the Cosette analysis tomorrow!


    1. That Cosette analysis shall be interesting. There is not much to that character. Tomorrow’s analysis is dealing with both young Cosette and Cosette as a teenager. She is one those characters that so many Les Mis fans dislike for absurd reasons just like Marius


      1. That’s really true. A lot of people hate Cosette just because she ended up with Marius and a lot of them wish that Éponine had ended up with Marius so they blame Cosette. Which is 100% unfair. But overall I have to agree. Cosette is probably one of the least developed characters in Les Miz but interesting nonetheless, I think.


      2. So glad that the two of us both of us agree that it is 100% unfair to dislike Marius and Cosette just because they end up together. There is more to them than their romance. Think about Cosette as a child and think about Marius and the trauma he faced at the barricades


      3. Definitely. I mean, I understand wishing that Éponine had ended up with Marius but hating Cosette and Marius because that didn’t happen? That doesn’t make sense to me. I also dislike how people say that it’s Cosette’s fault that Marius didn’t fall in love with Cosette. Personally I feel like Marius wouldn’t have fallen in love with Éponine even if he had never met Cosette. He saw Éponine as a friend more than anything. But I also feel like this whole hating a character because they ended up with someone you didn’t want to thing happens quite a bit actually with characters like Raoul from Phantom.


      4. I definitely agree. People always say “They got everything that they wanted!” but no, not really. Cosette had a horrible childhood. And Marius watched his friends die. And then Jean Valjean, the man who was a father to Cosette dies at the end. They both definitely had difficult things to go through in life.


      5. Can’t wait to read them. Personally Raoul is one of my favorite characters in Phantom and it always breaks my heart when people hate him just because he ended up with Christine so when I wrote my analysis of his character I tried to explain why it isn’t quite fair. It’s a pretty tough thing to do because so many people have it stuck in their minds that they are for some reason evil because they fell in love.


      6. I agree about Christine and Raoul. I think that they’re a really sweet pairing. And I agree about Cosette being the logo. I don’t think that people really understand that Cosette is really important to Les Miz. I’ve heard people say “Cosette’s not important. They should have just cut her out” and I don’t think that they understand that Cosette isn’t just of major importance to Marius’s story but also to Jean Valjean’s. Maybe even more so with Valjean.


      7. People seem to overlook Cosette and completely forget about her. We are in a kind of minority with this love triangle with Marius and Cosette ending up together. Marius and Cosette, their relationship, I know what inspired that


      8. That’s definitely true. I’m kind of amazed by how many people hate Cosette. Cosette is, in my opinion one of the most important characters of Les Miz. Her importance may be downplayed a little in the musical but I think that in both versions it is undeniable that she is an important character.


      9. I 100% agree. It’s kind of frustrating when people play it off as some kind of useless plot device. It wasn’t. It really wasn’t. It doesn’t take anything away from the story. In my opinion it only adds to it.


      10. I agree about that. That plot point is important. Romance is a huge part of the musical world and it is interesting to me that Cosette and Eponine, two girls who lived together, fall in love with the same man and love how their lives so mirror each other. Love is a huge theme in Les Mis-its comes in so many forms and romance is one of them: both requited and unrequited, which shows not one, but two versions of love


      11. I think that love is really an over-arching theme in Les Miz. Fantine loved Cosette in a motherly way. Jean Valjean loved Cosette like a father. The bishop loved Valjean and really mankind in general as a friend and brother would. Éponine and Cosette both loved Marius. Marius loved Cosette. Enjolras loved France. Javert loved the law. I think that it’s one of the most wonderful things about Les Miz.


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