Fantine is a picture of the struggling poor. She has a child to raise, and she does all she can to make sure her daughter grows up to be well off. Unable to keep the child, she is forced to leave it with an innkeeper, and she goes to work in another town, sending most of the money to care for the child. When she is fired from her job, she sells all she has (including herself) for the welfare of her daughter. It proves to be still not enough, though, as she dies without ever seeing her daughter Cosette again. And all the while, the innkeeper has been taking advantage of her and using her daughter as a servant. She is representative of many, many others who work hard and still cannot get out of poverty.
The picture above is of Rachel York, and if you don't know why I chose to put up her picture out of so many Fantines, you probably haven't visited my Scarlet Pimpernel page yet. (She currently plays the part of Marguerite in that musical.) Click on the picture to hear a clip of Ruthie Henshall singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from the TAC recording.
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed. (Characters)