A Year with Les Miz: Fault Lines

“Love is a fault; so be it. Fantine was innocence floating high over fault.”

Les Miserables, p. 100

Is Fantine at fault for her circumstances?

The reader meets Fantine in the company of her devious lover Tholomyes, his three gallivanting friends, and their three fickle, frivolous females. Among them, she is pristine innocence even if plucked from virginal grounding. Where the other women are miffed at Tholomyes and his comrades for deserting them, they seem nonplussed. They move on to other encounters with their own intrigues in mind. Fantine, on the other hand, falls in the chasm left by the earth-shattering reality of trusting the wrong sort of love.

She herself loves completely without abandon. This is seen in her love for Cosette, the actual release of her daughter to strangers when she fears she cannot provide. She shears her head, removes her teeth, pays the increased price never asking why. She knows the reason. Her love for her daughter supersedes her own well-being. For this, she is not at fault.

Perhaps the blindness is not in her devotion to Tholomyes and to Cosette. More likely, it is in her failure to see the faults of others and to not disregard her own trappings in order to keep her daughter from an abusive, loveless existence.

But, then, it is much easier to see the solution standing on the high ground with a full-range vantage point. Not so, for the one caught in the abyss of the fault line with the walls pressing in.

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