The man who might have become a father to Cosette was gone. The happy life that Valjean might have offered had been snatched away by the cruel hands of fate. There was no future for her now, except the everlasting cruelty of the Thénardiers.
Cosette continued her life among the Thénardiers as though there had been no interuption. The only mark that Valjean's visit left was the faint feeling that she had lost something, and even that faded with time.
The Thénardiers were quick to make up for Valjean's few days of kindness. The Thénardiess was crueler and more unforgiving than ever, giving Cosette so much work that she was trembling with exhaustion by the day's end.
Time passed. Through one matter or another, Thénardier lost the inn. The family took to the streets, dragging Cosette into that time of despair with them. They took up the name Jondrette and rented a small place at the Gorbeau Tenement.
The once middle-class family had been reduced to poverty. Their fine clothes had been exchanged for rags, their spacious inn for a tiny room, and their pride for a quiet anger. They had nothing left; no money, no pride, no joy. What they had, what the Thénardiess in particular had, was a deep anger at what they had been reduced to.
That anger was largely taken out on Cosette. The Thénardiess grew more and more cruel to the Lark as time passed. Even though there was no longer an inn to keep tidy or customers to impress, the Thénardiess kept after Cosette to keep the place spotless. She sent the girl on errands that would have, in another life, gone to Eponine and Azelma.
The Thénardier daughters did not suffer from this change of fate; rather, they proffited from it. The irritation and annoyance that the Thénardiess would have bestowed on them was instead passed over to Cosette. They recieved only love from their mother while Cosette suffered from her anger, just as it was when they were children.
It did not put more food in their stommachs, nor did it turn their rags into fine dresses. But it gave them purpose, and it gave them pride. Cosette was beneath them, someone who was less than them, even though the rest of society had risen above them. They snubbed her for it, forever mocking her for being abandoned as a girl by her uncaring mother.
The only ones in the house who did not hate her were the three Thénardier sons; Gavroche, Bellamy, and Chandell. They adored Cosette, the girl who had cared for them when their own mother hadn't. Gavroche had been sorely tempted to leave for the streets; he stayed only for the sake of Cosette. The two youngest had nearly been cast out and sold away to the woman Magnon by their foul-tempered mother. Only the pleading words of Cosette had saved them from that life.
The eldest of the three, Gavroche, was by far the most independant and the smartest. Left nameless by his uncaring mother, he had named himself. He was not so hardened as he would have been by a life on the streets, but his wits were just as quick, and he had a good mind for mischief.
Several times he had taken small revenges on his parents for their cruel treatment of the Lark. A broken chair, missing money, mice in the cupboard; all were commonplace after a particuarly cruel beating. He was rarely caught, but often suspected, and he paid dear for these revenges.
Still, he would not let their treatment of Cosette go unpunished. She was a better mother to him than the Thénardiess had ever been, and he cared for her deeply.
Bellamy was the second eldest, being four years younger than Gavroche. He was not as crafty as his brother, but he was smart, and he had a kind heart. He hated to see Cosette get hurt or being forced to overwork. He sometimes begged his mother to let her be, but his words were only met with angry shouting.
He contented himself with helping Cosette with her work as best he could. When the work was done, he loved to listen to her tell stories. He had a wonderful thirst for stories; he loved to imagine new worlds, naturally hating the world he was already in. He loved to listen to Cosette's gentle voice paint the picture of far-away places, wonderful heroes, and horrible villains.
Chandell, younger than Bellamy by two years, was the quietest of the three. He was afraid of pain and of hunger, and clung desperatly to his elder brothers and to Cosette. He did not like to work hard, although he would sometimes do so for the sake of Cosette. He was most like Azelma in nature, although he had more loyalty in his heart.
He was not so bold as to stand up to his monster of a mother, but instead tried to cheer up Cosette as best he could when her tears got too bad. He was not bad at heart; just lazy. He truly did care for Cosette, counting her as a truer sister than Eponine or Azelma.
This is how the family lived for some time. Cosette lived among them, a quiet and pale presence, doing her work without a word, submitting meekly to the Thénardiess's wrath. If any visitor cared enough to ask who the thin whisp of a girl in the corner was, she was grudging introduced as their niece, who they cared for out of the goodness of their hearts. The cruelty of the Thénardiers continued, but the Lark prevailed. There was a quiet strength in her, the same strength that had kept her tragic mother alive for so long.
She never expected anything different from life. That all changed very quickly, on one day in her seventeenth year.
Not really a lot going on here (alright, nothing at all going on here), just laying the scene. This is how Cosette 's life would have gone had Vsljean not shown up.
And yes, I based that whole Thernardier boys worshipping Cosette thing on the anime. I have to say, that whole Gavroche and Cosette friendship was bloody adorable. Also, as a side note, if anyone knows where to find the English subtitled versions of episodes 8-10, please tell me, because I can't find them anywhere.
I think some of the roles are becoming pretty clear, if they weren't already painfully obvious. The Thernardiess is the evil stepmother, Eponine and Azelma are the evil stepsisters, Cosette is (obviously) Cinderella, and Thernardier is... just kinda there. As usual. If you want to go with the Disney version of Cinderella, you can say that the three boys are the mice. I'm pretty sure it goes without saying that Marius is the Prince.
Again, I know nothing of life in 19th century France. If there are any inconsitencies, be it with the actual timeline or with the book, please let me know. We only learn through learning our mistakes.
Cosette, Gavroche, unnamed brothers, Thernardier, Thernardiess, Eponine, Azelma, Valjean (c) Victor Hugo
Bellamy (name and personality), Chandell (name and personality) (c) Me