In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo neither ignores human misery nor enters into it in what might be considered a more contemporary approach or spirit (as in the device of deep point of view, or writing so that the reader feels very like the character him- or herself throughout the story). Rather, Hugo simply reports the situations of his various characters almost distantly, with detachment, and that approach above all others is perhaps the most stylistically effective at conveying the truly awful depths of suffering and loss and the effects of unfathomable poverty and desperation.
Fantine is one such character whose descent into the cesspool of hopelessness is one of the hardest to read. She begins as one of "four ravishing young women, perfumed and radiant" and, indeed, referred to as "a good girl" (in the sense, one presumes, of innocence and honesty).
In the span of not much time, Fantine, having fallen in naive love with a man and borne his child only to have him carelessly abandon them...
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