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A Historical Feminist Analysis of Orange is the New Black Essay

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Today, women have many of the same privileges as men. This includes the right to free speech, personal safety and education. Women’s rights have progressed dramatically since the French Revolution, but the cycle of poverty still affects many women today, specifically women of minorities and/or who have been incarcerated. Two popular adaptions of this unfortunate phenomenon and characters affected by it are Fantine, a single-mother trying to provide for her daughter, in the film “Les Miserables”, based on Victor Hugo’s experiences of the French Revolution then turned into a book, and the various female characters playing female inmates in the popular TV series “Orange is the New Black”, which is based on the personal experiential book written by Piper Kerman. Although both stories and all characters are altered for entertainment’s sake, many of the scenes and underlying themes unravel huge underlying themes historically and currently in the lives of many women. The question is: how exactly are women of the French Revolution and female inmates of today similar? Both women of the Third Estate in Revolutionary France and incarcerated women of today, are subjugated to the vicious, discriminatory cycle of poverty. Because of the lack of resources, rights and education provided for these women, but by learning from the past, this could dramatically change by increasing each women’s social agency.
Having resources means having a viable life with options. Unfortunately, for these women, this is not necessarily the case. In “Les Miserables”, Fantine goes into prostitution after having lost her job to be able to provide for her daughter. Known as the “Lovely Ladies” musical number, she first starts off by selling her daughters pendant, th...


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...hmagazine.org/post/an-in-depth-look-at-how-orange-is-the-new-black-compares-to-real-life (accessed March 23, 2014).
Brochu, André. Hugo: amour, crime, révolution; essai sur Les misérables. Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1974.
"At The End of The Day, The Docks (Lovely Ladies), I Dreamed A Dream, Fantine's Arrest, Fantine's Death." Les Miserables. DVD. Directed by Tom Hooper . Unknown: Universal, 2012.
Orange Is The New Black . Theater viewing. Directed by Jenji Kohan . Los Angeles : Netflix , 2013.
Valiunas, Algis. "The Sacred Heart of Victor Hugo (The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Miserables)." First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, August 1, 2007. http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.wlu.ca/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA166621300&v=2.1&u=wate18005&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1 (accessed March 10, 2014).


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