Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 7 of 25 Days of Les Misérables: Fantine’s rescue




Easy money
Lying on a bed
Just as well they never see
The hate that's in your head
Don't they know they're making love
To one already dead!

Fantine sells her locket. Then she sells her hair. In the book she also sells her two front teeth. At this point all she has left to sell is her body. She reluctantly becomes a woman of the night.
Even though her anger consumes her, Fantine never gives any indication that she wishes she’d never had a daughter. Like Valjean, she’s grown to hate the world as the world hates her, but the child she must support remains her reason for continuing in that world.
We’re about to meet Javert again. The last time we saw him he was giving Valjean his yellow parole ticket and reminding him that he was a thief and would always be a thief. We see many evidences that Javert doesn’t believe a person can change once they are evil. He also has a stereotypical view of “sinners” and plays the vigilante who wishes to rid the streets of them.
That’s why, when he comes across Fantine in a rough part of town, he refuses to listen to her side of the story in a confrontation with one of her customers. He calls the place where he finds her a “nest of whores and vipers” and never stoops to ask her customer why he was even in that area of town in the first place. Immediately he takes the side of the well-to-do citizen and accuses Fantine of lying when she tries to use her daughter as a way to beg for mercy.
Thankfully, Valjean witnesses this encounter with Javert. Something must have stirred within him to see a woman in such desperate circumstances being denied mercy. He knows Javert and has every reason to keep a low profile, but his past must probe him to intercede on behalf of Fantine.
Fantine has had many “it’s the end” moments when she thought she wasn’t going to be able to provide for Cosette. When she is facing going to jail, she must have thought, “this really is the end.” Then out of nowhere her former employer shows up to help her. In the midst of their encounter, Fantine tells Valjean who she is and how he’s the reason she’s in such dire circumstances. Repentant, Valjean vows to aid Fantine and make up for his responsibility in her plight.
When the mayor of the town publicly reaches out to help a prostitute, it peeks the interest of Javert. He’s already suspicious of Valjean when Valjean gives him even more evidence to suspect him as an ex-convict. 

First performance: October 8? 1985
Composer: Claud-Michel Schönberg
Adapted from: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Playwrights: Alain Boublil, Claud-Michel Schönberg
Lyricists: Herbert Kretsmer, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel
Quoted: Lovely Ladies


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