Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Decent Essays
In his novel, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo identifies the principle social evils of French society through the actions and qualities of his characters. By depicting each of his characters’ struggles through destitute and oppressed measures, Hugo is able to identify the social errors of 19th century France. The fact that characters such as Valjean, Javert, Fantine, and Cosette, attempt to rise above poverty and redeem themselves indicate that such inequalities did, and still do, exist to this day. Through the use of feminist ideals and the criminal injustice system, Hugo attacks the principle social evils that each of his characters face in Les Miserables.
In the early 19th century, most women were subject to gender discrimination and viewed as weaker components in France. One of the first characters attacked by such injustice is the former factory worker and prostitute, Fantine. Having been discovered as a mother of an illegitimate child, Fantine is thrown out of the work place and turns towards prostitution instead. Deprived of hope and redemption, Fantine endures through much suffering and harassment from her male superiors in order to provide for her child. While walking down the street one evening, Fantine passes by a man, who, “taking advantage of the moment when she turns... seizes a handful of snow from the sidewalk, and throws it hastily down her back between her naked shoulders” (69). Enraged, Fantine lashes out at the man, only to be blamed later on for attacking
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