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Fantine is a fictional character in Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Misérables. She is a young grisette in Paris who becomes pregnant by a rich student. After he abandons her, she is forced to look after their child, Cosette, on her own. Originally a beautiful and naive girl, Fantine is eventually forced by circumstances to become a prostitute, selling her hair and front teeth, losing her beauty and health. The money she earns is sent to support her daughter.

She was first played in the musical by Rose Laurens in France, and when the musical came to England, Patti LuPone played Fantine in the West End. Fantine has since been played by numerous actresses.

Fantine became an archetype of self-abnegation and devoted motherhood. She has been portrayed by many actresses in stage and screen versions of the story and has been depicted in works of art.

In the novel


Hugo introduces Fantine as one of four fair girls attached to young, wealthy students. "She was called Fantine because she had never been known by any other name..." She is described as having, "gold and pearls for her dowry; but the gold was on her head and the pearls in her mouth." Hugo elaborates: "Fantine was fair, without being too conscious of it. She was fair in the two ways—style and rhythm. Style is the form of the ideal, rhythm is its movement."

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fantine" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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