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Javert Javert is so obsessed with enforcing society’s laws and morals that he does not realize he is living by mistaken assumptions—a tragic and ironic flaw in a man who believes so strongly in enforcing what he believes is right. Although Javert is such a stern and inflexible character that it is hard to sympathize with him, he lives with the shame of knowing that his own Gypsy upbringing is not so different from the backgrounds of the men he pursues. He lives his life trying to erase this shame through his strict commitment to upholding the law. Javert’s flaw, however, is that he never stops to question whether the laws themselves are just. In his mind, a man is guilty when the law declares him so. When Valjean finally gives Javert irrefutable proof that a man is not necessarily evil just because the law says he is, Javert is incapable of reconciling this new knowledge with his beliefs. He commits suicide, plagued by the thought that he may be living a
dishonorable life. True to Javert’s nature, he makes this decision not with any emotional hysterics, but rather with a cool determination. Although he is a man of logic, he is impassioned about his work. To this end, Hugo frequently uses animal imagery to describe Javert, particularly when he likens him to a tiger. In the end, it is difficult to feel anything other than pity for Javert, who assumes his duty with such savagery that he seems more animal than man. - vs-the-spirit-of-the-law-common-sense One of my favorite books and stage productions has always been "Les Miserables," the story of Jean Valjean and his road to redemption during the French Revolution by the author Victor Hugo. It fascinates me because, in essence, it is an examination of the nature of truth and law as applied to humanity and society as a whole. Because when it comes down to it, good judgment and critical analysis are very sociological skills...we cannot pretend to remove ourselves from the equation. The character of Valjean may indeed be taken as the symbol of universal "natural" man, struggling in an amoral world
beset with poverty, disease, disillusion, and political upheaval. The scope is indeed grand, but the story is universal and known to us all. Valjean's foil is a character called Javert, a guard at the prison where Valjean was incarcerated, and a police inspector later on in the novel when Valjean has reclaimed his life helped by the grace of others who led him toward a just path (whether it is in actuality a Christian idea or not, the concept of this grace is inherent in the story). Javert plagues Valjean; hunts him. The film and the book versions differ, but the plot is the same in that Valjean's initial crime was a petty theft. Yet Javert is bound, by the letter of the law and all it portends, to pursue Valjean even after it is obvious that the once 'sinner' or rule breaker has been redeemed a thousand fold and when most other souls,

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