A Character Analysis of Hugo's Javert, from Les Miserables

Topics: Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, Javert Pages: 3 (1198 words) Published: January 14, 2004
Character Analysis of Hugo's Javert

Hugo's character Javert sees anyone who may have commit a crime as simple as the theft of a loaf of bread as a social malefactor, a blight on all of society, a prime evil who needs to be eliminated, removed from the general population, and a devil that can be neither reformed nor tamed. Javert is the true rationalist. Like Medieval philosophers, he believes that people will naturally resort to evil, and that these people can never be saved or reformed. Javert is the true rationalist because he believes the law is the highest authority, sees Jean Valjean as purely evil, and because he wholeheartedly believes in the infallibility of the law.

Javert believes the law is the highest authority throughout Les Miserables. When his character is first described, Hugo states "It will be easily understood that Javert was the terror of all that class which the annual statistics of the Minister of Justice include under the heading: People without a fixed abode" (57). Javert believes that all of those that live in poverty are destined to be criminals because they are forced to live without being able to satisfy certain wants, and that people, who are naturally bad, will violate the law to satisfy themselves. Javert, quick to punish anyone of a low social status, is also quick to punish himself. When he falsely accuses Monsieur the Mayor of being a convict, he asks to be dismissed. To the Mayor, he says "I denounced you as a convict- you, a respectable man, a mayor, and a magistrate. This is a serious matter, very serious. I have committed an offense against authority" (69). He believes that he has violated the law and should therefore be punished for it, even though he has proved himself to be a worthy inspector and only is guilty of a minor infraction. He believes that any man, despite any previous or future actions, is inherently evil if he has ever done wrong, so Javert automatically condemns himself because he has commit a crime....
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