When prisoner 24601 abandons his parole, Javert pursues him unwaveringly. Though 24601 turns himself in and reveals himself as the mayor of a small town, he disappears shortly after assisting a prostitute. It takes another ten years for Javert to track him down in a conflict-ridden Paris on the brink of the June Rebellion.
Classification :: Ξ23457#@
Role :: Avenger (seeks justice)
Motivations :: idealism (lawfulness), psychology (needs justice), insubordination (police employee), lifestyle (commitment to justice), personal/material gain (closure, bringing Valjean to justice)
Bonus :: minions (police), name (AND I’M JAVERT)
[Venn Diagram Pending]
Cinderella—his rags-to-riches backstory explains that he’s risen from his mother’s prostitution to a keeper of the justice that sanctified him
rights-based ethicist—Javert feels justified in labelling right and wrong based on the laws of church and state; infringement is a permanent failure
God-fearing—unlike Frollo (another Hugo villain), Javert isn’t selfishly malicious; he earnestly wants to serve God but doesn’t have a forgiving bone in his body
orderly—one reason Javert values the law is that it brings order and consistency in life; he dislikes the poor because they are anything but orderly or consistent
employed—though the story shares his relationship with 24601, he has job responsibilities, like preventing a classroom of twenty-somethings from taking over France
(no, but notice he actually humanizes Valjean in these last moments!)
unrelenting—when captured, he says, “shoot me now for all I care” and “how right you should kill with a knife” because it was lawful; forgiveness is unrighteous, and when he is shown mercy he can’t reconcile this response with his worldview
suicidal—Javert kills himself because he can’t reconcile mercy with justice; therefore, to carry out justice he inflicts the death he righteously deserves
separated from God—despite attempting to serve God, ultimately Javert doesn’t accept God’s mercy and isn’t saved by his righteousness, for he was never righteous enough
justice—it’s interesting that Javert spends his whole life seeking a single principle, that is, justice, that is, enforcing his God’s law on earth. He avenges God, I guess you could say, but ironically enough, in avenging God he loses his relationship with Him. In the end, he only avenges himself with his death.
not cruel—this is certainly a point that can be argued, but I don’t think Javert sets out to inflict human suffering. In fact, he seems rather ignorant of it, for example when he is more willing to put Fantine in a jail than a hospital. He certainly isn’t kind, but I find the Thenardiers, rather than Javert, the truly malicious force. The Inspector is merely the face of justice.
antagonistic—despite Javert’s vendetta against him, Valjean does not seem to blame the inspector himself for pursuing him, instead saying, “You’ve done your duty, nothing more.” Valjean, however, knows he was saved by God’s mercy, not his nineteen winters. Javert here is not really an “evil” force but rather a conflicting ideology that juxtaposes forgiveness. Vajean is saved; Javert only thought he was.
Best of all, he has VILLAIN SONGS! He’s a main character, so he’s there from the prologue, but “Stars” is his villain song, explaining his motivations and relationship with God. I will also include “Javert’s Suicide” as well because that is my favorite song from the musical. Although I did love Norm Lewis as Javert, I have selected the performances of Philip Quast, my favorite Javert, from the 10th Anniversary Recording for these songs.
Oh, what the heck, we'll do Norm Lewis, too,
But seriously. Listen.