Les Miserables Essay

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The Single Path of Javert
In the novel, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo displays a lifestyle of a police officer named Javert with only one purpose; to serve justice. In the novel, Javert acts to what he truly believes is morally correct, but when his conscience gets the best of him, he overlooks his way of life leading up to his suicide.

Javert has always been one to follow the law and believes there is a certain way of doing things and punishing people, even if it means his death. During the peasants revolt at the barricade, a man named Enjolras questions him for being a spy and asks who he is, Javert tells him, “I am an officer of the government”(359). Javert does not lie or try to fight back because he believes he should be killed. Jean Valjean, a former convict Javert has been trying to jail for years tells the peasants he will kill him, but secretly spares his life instead. Unable to comprehend Jean Valjean’s act of mercy, Javert says, “Kill me rather”(387). In return, Javert later spares Jean Valjean from being sentenced to life in the galleys by allowing him to escape. This is the first time Javert has not followed the law, which subsequently leads to his demise.

Javert never feels bad about punishing someone, if the law has been broken, the fate of the suspect has already been determined. Unfortunately, in Jean Valjean’s case, Javert allows his core values to be compromised by allowing Jean Valjean to escape, which he later regrets. After releasing Jean Valjean, Javert sees a different way of life which frightens him, “ He saw before him two roads, both equally straight; but he saw two, and that terrified him”(408). After a lifetime of following the law, Javert cannot cope with the fact that he himself broke the law by not bringing Jean Valjean to justice. Javert is still in shock of his actions and in his confusion, he concludes, “ In the first case, the man of authority would fall lower than the man of the galley; in the second, a convict rose...
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