When the reader first finds out about Fantine, she is a beautiful young girl who likes spending time with her friends in Paris. She is innocent and carefree, and she falls in love with Tholomyès, who is much older than her. The problem is that Tholomyès does not really love her, and she is so blinded by her feelings that she cannot notice it. As a result, she gets pregnant, and Tholomyès leaves her.
In the 19th-century in France giving birth to a child without getting married was the thing for which a woman was condemned for the rest of her life. Thus, Fantine was never joyful and carefree anymore. From that time on, there were only rare pleasant moments when Fantine could feel that she is still beautiful and young.
In order to bring up her daughter and support her financially, Fantine had to work very hard. For some time, she worked at a factory; however, when her story was revealed, she lost her job and gradually turned to selling her own hair and to prostitution. After that, M. Javert arrests her, and at this time, she is suffering from tuberculosis. Before her death, Jean Valjean promises her to look after her daughter Cosette.
Fantine in the Essays