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Mimi, a poor seamstress in the Latin Quarter, is unable to pay her rent and is about to be evicted, when Rodolphe, a struggling young playwright who admires her fragile beauty, takes her into his circle of bohemian friends. Her gratitude to Rodolphe develops into an idyllic love. As time passes, Rodolphe ekes out a meager existence writing for a newspaper while working on a play, inspired by Mimi. He is discharged, but Mimi keeps him in ignorance of the fact, pretending to deliver his articles and secretly sewing at night to support them both. Paul, a cynical boulevardier attracted to Mimi, is induced by her to take the play to a theater manager, and she accompanies him, in clothes borrowed from her friend, Musette. Rodolphe suspects her of infidelity, and she leaves him. Later, his play is successful, and, at the peak of his fame, Mimi returns to him desperately ill and dies in his arms.