“They appeared very corrupt and very depraved, no doubt, very vile, very odious even; but … whose fault is this? And then should not the charity be all the more profound, in proportion as the fall is great?”
Fantine’s assault at the hands of Bamatabois is based on an experience of Victor Hugo: he came across a man harassing a prostitute, and when she rejected him, he shoved snow down her dress. She defended herself, and he called the police for her to be arrested. Hugo spoke up for her and had her set free.