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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Illustration of Cosette. Artist is Émile Bayard (1837-1891)

Euphrasie "Cosette" Fauchelevant (also referred to as "Ursule," the "Lark" and "Mademoiselle Lanoire") is a fictional character in the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

Contents

Novel

As a child, Cosette is severely mistreated by the Thénardiers. They abuse and beat her, starve her, make her live in squalor and force her into child labor for their inn. She is also treated unkindly by their pampered daughters Éponine and Azelma. She is described as "thin and pale," has chilblains on her hands, bruised and reddened skin, and wears rags for clothing. The author also states that "fear was spread all over her."

While under the care of Jean Valjean, Cosette’s appearance completely transforms as she grows older. She becomes very beautiful, healthy, well-attired and educated.

She later falls in love with Marius Pontmercy.

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Early life

Euphrasie, nicknamed Cosette by her mother Fantine, is the illegitimate daughter of Fantine and Félix Tholomyès. After Tholomyès abandons Fantine, she leaves Cosette with the Thénardiers at their inn in Montfermeil, paying them to care for her child while she goes to work in the city of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Unbeknownst to Fantine, the Thénardiers abuse and mistreat Cosette, undernourish her, make her live in squalid conditions and force her to do chores around the inn. The Thénardiers' daughters Éponine and Azelma are unkind to Cosette as well, teasing her or ignoring her completely.

While Fantine is in hospital, Jean Valjean, the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer, vows to retrieve Cosette for her. However, Fantine dies before Cosette can be brought to her, but Valjean becomes determined to look after her. When he arrives in Montfermeil on Christmas Eve, he finds Cosette fetching a pail of water for the Thénardiers. He accompanies her back to the inn. He watches the Thénardiers’ appalling treatment of her. He also sees how Éponine and Azelma are unkind to her when they go to their mother and point to Cosette playing with their doll. After seeing this, Valjean leaves the inn and returns a moment later with an expensive new doll, which he offers to Cosette. At first Cosette is unsure if the doll really is for her and is reluctant to take it, but then joyfully accepts it. This leaves Mme. Thénardier to become furious at Valjean, while Éponine and Azelma become jealous.

The next morning on Christmas Day, Valjean pays all of Fantine's debts to the Thénardiers and leaves with Cosette. M. Thénardier later regrets not having demanded more money, but finds himself unable to swindle any more out of Valjean.

Valjean takes Cosette directly to Paris. They lodge at Gorbeau House, and Valjean begins giving her a basic education. When Inspector Javert discovers Valjean's whereabouts, Valjean takes Cosette and is forced to flee. After climbing over a wall, they soon find themselves in the Petit-Picpus convent. The gardener, Fauchelevent, was once rescued by Valjean in Montreuil-sur-Mer, and is eager to help him. Valjean poses as Fauchelevent's brother, assuming that name for Cosette and himself, and the two live peacefully in the convent for many years. Valjean works with Fauchelevent while Cosette is educated. As Cosette grows up, she appears to have no recollection of her childhood before arriving at the convent.

In a later chapter, Cosette does eventually have a recollection of her childhood. Cosette remembers praying for the mother she never knew, the Thénardiers as two ugly creatures, and fetching the water for the Thénardiers somewhere "very far from Paris." In the same chapter, she asks Valjean about her mother, but he does not answer her question. When Cosette has a dream about her mother as an angel, she remarks that her mother must have been a saint before. Valjean answers this by simply stating, "through martyrdom."

Relationship with Marius Pontmercy

Cosette’s adult life centres on a young man by the name of Marius Pontmercy. Their first meeting is in the Luxembourg Gardens. Both Marius and Cosette fall in love with each other when their eyes meet and begin to constantly think of each other. When Valjean takes notice of Marius’ affections, he sees Marius as a coward for not confronting Valjean and seeking approval to court his "daughter." He also fears losing Cosette, (who has become the source of his happiness), to Marius. After Marius discovers their address, Valjean then takes Cosette away from the Luxembourg Gardens and moves to another house.

Marius spots Cosette again during her and Valjean’s charitable visit to the Thénardiers at Gorbeau House, whom he lives next door to. He asks Éponine to find her address for him, which she reluctantly accepts. After many weeks, Éponine takes Marius to Cosette’s new address in order to see Marius happy. Marius idly watches Cosette for a few nights before approaching her. When Cosette and Marius finally meet again in the garden, both of them confess that they love each other, share their first kiss together and introduce themselves. They continue to meet each other from that point on. On one night, while Éponine prevents M. Thénardier, Patron-Minette and Brujon from robbing Valjean and Cosette’s house, Cosette informs Marius that she and Valjean will be departing for England soon. This news devastates them both, because it will mean the end of their relationship.

The next day, Éponine (now dressed as a boy) finds Valjean in an embankment in the Champ de Mars and anonymously throws him a note, which tells him to "move." Valjean then informs Cosette they will move to their other house and will be in England in a week. Cosette quickly writes a letter to Marius with this information. She catches sight of Éponine through the gate and asks the "workman" to deliver the letter to Marius. Éponine accepts the letter, but does not deliver it.

The next night, Marius is led to the barricades by Éponine, in hope that they will die together. After being fatally shot, Éponine reveals this to Marius and gives him Cosette’s letter before she dies. Marius writes a farewell letter to Cosette, which is delivered to Valjean by Gavroche. Valjean reads Marius’ farewell letter and decides to follow Marius to the barricades. After the battle is over, he takes Marius' unconscious body through the sewers. After a confrontation with Javert, Valjean finally manages to get Marius through the sewers alive. He returns Marius to his beloved Cosette, and she watches over him until he recovers from his injuries.

The Wedding and Afterwards

In February, Marius and Cosette get married. The next morning, Valjean tells Marius of his criminal history. This leads Marius to believe Valjean is dangerous, and asks him to leave him and Cosette. Valjean wishes not to be permanently separated from Cosette, so Marius grants him to visit every evening. When finding out through M. Thénardier that Valjean had saved him, Marius and Cosette go to Valjean, now on his deathbed. Valjean then shares the last minutes of his life with Marius and Cosette, while Cosette learns from Valjean about her past and her mother Fantine.

Musical

In the stage musical of the same name, Cosette is one of the central characters. She is played by two people, a young girl for Young Cosette in Montfermeil, 1823 and a young woman for the adult Cosette in Paris, 1832.

Differences in the musical

  • Much of Cosette’s character is not fully portrayed in the musical. In the novel, she is described as beautiful, enjoys singing and reading, and is passionate and afraid of little. In the musical, very little of this is delved into, except for the fact that she is beautiful. Because of this, her character in the musical is often disliked by fans because it portrays her as an ingenue who steals the boy from another, more deserving character (Éponine).
  • Valjean and Cosette's stay at Gorbeau House, their avoidance of Javert and their arrival at the Petit-Picpus convent is cut. After they leave the Thénardiers' inn, the musical jumps to Paris nine years later.

Songs

Cosette is featured in the following songs in the musical:

  • Castle on a Cloud — The eight-year-old Cosette works at the Thénardiers' inn in Montfermeil. She is heavily abused and is forced to scrub the floors. Cosette sings of her dreams of heaven, comparing it to a "castle on a cloud", in which there are no floors to clean, nobody shouting and in which there is a lady in white (possibly her mother). She is quickly interrupted by Mme. Thénardier who catches her "pretending to be so awfully good." She then orders Cosette to fetch a bucket of water from the well in the woods. She taunts her, regretting ever taking her and comparing her to her own daughter, Éponine. As soon as Éponine appears, Mme. Thénardier immedietely dotes on her and praises her. While she does this, Éponine points to Cosette to indicate to her mother that Cosette did not leave. Mme. Thénardier once again angrily orders Cosette to retrieve the water. Cosette begs Mme. Thénardier not to send her out in the darkness alone, but then reluctantly and frightingly complies when Mme. Thénardier threatens to her that she will "forget to be nice."
  • The Bargain / The Waltz of TreacheryJean Valjean finds Cosette in the woods and brings her back to the Thénardiers' inn. Valjean informs the Thénardiers that her mother Fantine is dead and offers to take Cosette to his care. Valjean pays Fantine's debt but the Thénardiers try to force money from Valjean, insisting that they loved her as if she was their daughter, that they have had to pay for expensive medicines for Cosette's repeated illnesses and that Valjean has bad intentions. They finally let Cosette go after Valjean pays them 1500 francs. Valjean assures Cosette of her dreams (expressed in Castle on a Cloud) and gives her a doll, which overjoys her. They leave for Paris.
  • The Robbery / Javert's Intervention (silent) — Nine years have passed and Cosette lives with Valjean in Paris. When they arrive for a charitable visit on the street, she accidentally bumps into a revolutionary student, Marius, of whom she immediately falls in love with and vice versa. Meanwhile, they encounter M. Thénardier, who recognizes Valjean and assaults him with his gang. However, just as they reveal the brand upon his chest, Éponine yells out that Javert is arriving. Javert appears and not recognizing Valjean, assures him that M. Thénardier will be punished. Valjean, on the other hand, recognizes Javert immediately and runs off with Cosette.
  • Rue Plumet / In My Life — On the garden of their residence at 55 Rue Plumet, Cosette recalls the encounter earlier that day with Marius, asking herself "Can people really fall in love so fast?" Valjean comes out and remarks on Cosette's loneliness. Cosette tries to ask Valjean of the faint memory of her early life with the Thénardiers (whom she does not seem to remember) and why she and Valjean always keep to themselves, insisting that she is no longer a child. Valjean, however, refuses to tell her anything, insisting that "it is a time that is dead" and that "truth is given by God to us all in our time" and leaves. Outside the garden, Marius, having found her residence with the help of Éponine, prepares to enter.
  • A Heart Full of Love — Marius enters the garden and shows himself to Cosette. He realizes his foolishness as he does not even know her name. However, Cosette follows suit and soon they are assured of their love and sing of it together with Marius singing that he is "lost" and Cosette singing that she is "found." Unbeknownst to them, they are also interjected by Éponine, who is also in love with Marius and is devastated by their love. Cosette and Marius end off singing that it is "not a dream after all" and they kiss.
  • The Attack on Rue Plumet — Shortly afterwards, M. Thénardier and his gang attempt to rob Valjean. Éponine, wanting to save Marius, tries to assure her father that Valjean is not worth robbing, to no avail. Seeing no other choice, she screams, sending her father and the gang to the sewers, and escapes with Marius. Valjean appears, hearing a cry in the dark and the voice of angry voices. Cosette, for the first time in her life, lies to him, telling him that she had screamed after seeing three men, who fled after her scream. Valjean immediately assumes them to be Javert and that he has found their trail. He tells Cosette that they are to leave the next day across the sea.
  • One Day More — As with all the other characters, Cosette sings with Marius anticipating how they could live when they are parted and are saddened by the fact that they are to be separated, insisting that they cannot go on without each other.
  • Every Day — Cosette does not appear again until after the barricades fall. She helps Marius recover, being the only survivor of the revolution and who had been brought to her by Valjean. She comforts him, reminding him of the night at Rue Plumet. They sing a reprise of A Heart Full of Love, which is this time interjected by Valjean, who accepts that Cosette could not stay with him forever, and lets them go on as they wish. Cosette and Marius notice Valjean, and thank him for what he has given them.
  • Valjean's Confession (not present) — Though she does not appear, Cosette plays an important part in this song. Valjean confesses to Marius his history as an ex-convict and that he must leave because of this, stopping short of the details. He makes Marius promise that he will not inform Cosette.
  • Wedding Chorale — The guests sing in jubilation as Cosette and Marius are married. They waltz in celebration, but Marius is confronted by the Thénardiers, who blackmail him with information about Valjean. They show him a ring stolen by a corpse of Valjean, which turns out to be Marius' ring. Realizing that Valjean was the one that saved him from the barricades, Marius punches M. Thénardier and leaves with Cosette to find Valjean.
  • Valjean's Death — Marius and Cosette find Valjean on his deathbed, who is jubilant to see them. Marius apologizes to Valjean for not thanking him for bringing him back from the barricade, but they are too late to save Valjean from death. Valjean, comforted that he can "die in peace" with Cosette and Marius at his side, writes his last confession, the story of Fantine and Cosette's life. Finally, Valjean is taken to heaven by the spirits of Fantine and Éponine.

Adaptations

Actress Version
Maria Fromet 1913 Adaptation
Jewel Carmen 1917 Adaptation
Sandra Milovanoff 1925 Adaptation
Josseline Gaël 1934 Adaptation
Rochelle Hudson 1935 Adaptation
Debra Paget 1952 Adaptation
Béatrice Altariba 1958 Adaptation
Nicole Jamet 1972 Adaptation
Caroline Langrishe 1978 Adaptation
Christiane Jean 1982 Adaptation
Rebecca Caine 1985 London Musical
Judy Kuhn 1987 Broadway Musical
1995 Concert
Claire Danes 1998 Adaptation
Virginie Ledoyen 2000 Adaptation
Sara Sarres 2001 Brazil Cast
Ali Ewoldt 2006 Broadway Revival

See also

References

External links

Footnotes


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