The Ways Jean Valjean Both Helps and Hinders Cosette in Les Miserables

1024 Words May 25th, 2013 5 Pages
The Ways Jean Valjean both Helps and Hinders Cosette in Les Miserables

In the 19th century of France most of the children were poor orphans because parents could not provide for their children. Usually they would throw the boys on the streets but keep the girls because they could make profit off of them. However, some orphans like Cosette as portrayed in Les Miserables found someone who would love and care for them. Upon careful research this paper will show not only how Jean Valjean helped Cosette but also how he hindered her. In this case Jean Valjean represents the allegory of the New France and Cosette represents the women of France, so the way Valjean treats her shows us how the New France treated women. The impoverished
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Considering all the above we can see how women’s oppression affected life in 19th century France. In Les Miserables Cosette is one of the lucky children to the degree that she has not only someone to love her but also someone who takes care of her. Jean Valjean loves Cosette like she is his own child. He provides food, a loving home, and even teaches her to read and write so that she could get a good job once she gets old enough. Cosette’s mother, Fantine, could not provide for her to the extent that women are not allowed to have a job out of wedlock. In this story Cosette represents the allegory of the women of France. First we can see how badly women were treated before the revolution when she is with the Thenadiers. Jean Valjean represents the New France and he treats Cosette very good. This shows us that the New France treats women a lot better. We can all see that France after the revolution treated women very different than the Old France. Even though Jean Valjean helped Cosette so much he did hinder her in some ways. One big way was that he hid her from the outside world by living in the convent. She did not have to see all the discrimination women got besides what she already knew from being with the Thenadiers. For example, “The convent was to Jean Valjean like an island surrounded by wide waters. These four walls were, henceforth, the world to him. Within them he could see enough of the sky to be

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