Friday, February 05, 2010


The lurking fellow above is one Javert, police inspector of the Paris police in the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables first published in 1862. The exact date of his birthday is not, as far as I can tell, mentioned anywhere in the novel. However, today is light on the actual hero front, and therefore I have unofficially declared today to be his birthday. A great number of people who have read the book or saw the musical who claim that Javert is a bastard. Well, being a bastard has never been a bar to being a hero, and my theory is that Javert is more of a misguided bastard as opposed to an evil bastard. Javert goes off the rails by his blind faith, and belief in the Law. "I am the Law, and the Law is not mocked" is one of his quotes that stands out most to me. He has very little wiggle room between the "Law" and being moral. For him the law is morality, and his fatal flaw is that he can not fathom how Jean Valjean could be both a "hardened" criminal that has committed the most heinous of crimes, and still be a "good" man capable of selfless acts of love that save lives. Throughout the book Javert sees Valjean do both kinds of things, commit crimes that would be worthy of a death sentence, and then save people's lives with little regard for the bad consequences to himself. It is when Valjean, given the chance to kill Javert, releases him instead that makes life untenable for Javert. "There is nothing on Earth that we share. It is either Valjean or Javert." That is one of the final quotes from the musical that Javert utters, and it pretty much sums up the problem he is facing. That problem is too much for him, and he throws himself in the Seine, rather than live in the "debt of a thief". However, Javert does have his purpose, and does have moments in the book where he acts in heroic ways. He is just, at his core, too misguided to understand the grey areas that the majority of us operate in, on a day to day basis. But for those heroic moments, and for having the courage of his convictions, Inspector Javert (February 5th, 1862-present), you are my (163rd) hero of the day.

1 comment:

Schmidt, Custodial Engineer said...
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