For those who have never read the novel “Les Mise?rables” by Victor Hugo, you have probably never heard of an honorable man and Police Inspector known as Javert, or his tragic end. Javert was an honorable man, as just described, and a man who followed his duties to the bloody end – sometimes quite literally if the situation required such actions to occur. His soul objective in life, to serve justice as it was to be served, and protect the people from thieves and murderers the like. Yet, it might very well surprise you to hear that Javert’s tragic end did not happen in a clash with an infamous villan, no, but rather with a suicide.
In the book, Javert is first mentioned when pertaining to a certain prisoner – numbered 24601 – yet whose name was Jean Valjean; sentenced to five years imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread, which soon became nineteen years imprisonment for multiple attempted escapes. Jean Valjean is eventually released from prison, but breaks parole shortly thereafter, ultimately ensuing Javert’s lifelong promise to capture this man and return him back to where Javert believes he truly belongs. Throughout the novel, Javert and Jean Valjean meet constantly over a plethora of different places, yet Jean Valjean always manages to avoid capture, which infuriates Javert and consequently makes his strive for justice, turn into something more of an obsession.
At certain times in the story, it gets to the point where Javert envisions Jean Valjean in a number of places, while the reader is made aware that Javert has become infatuated with capturing Jean Valjean, and will do virtually anything to subdue him.
Let me elaborate on Javert for a moment; Javert has always been a man of justice and black and white ideas, Hugo makes this an apparent point when describing Javert. In his mind, if you step outside the law in any form, he does not care if you stole bread for your starving family (as Jean Valjean did for his sister and her children), he will condemn you to the appropriate years in prison, and consider justice ultimately served.
Eventually, Javert is captured by French Revolutionists and guaranteed to be shot at any given time. Suddenly, Jean Valjean enters and says that he will take care of Javert, and the Revolutionist Enjolras, agrees, having more prominent issues to take care of. Javert recognizes Jean Valjean easily and finds that it is fitting that the man he had been searching for, for ten years by this time, was to end his life. Yet instead, Jean Valjean releases him, sparing Javert’s life as a show of his humanity and in no way seeing a reason to end his life – and ultimately indebting Javert to him. Jean Valjean fires one shot into the air, and Javert is safe.
Javert, in a last attempt to secure Jean Valjean, finds Jean Valjean in need of great help, for he is carrying the body of the man named Marius whom his daughter loves, and begs Javert to help him take the body of Marius to his remaining relative, and then he will go with him willingly to prison. Javert has many conflicting emotions by this point, and somehow finds himself agreeing to the terms, and takes the body of Marius to his grandfather’s estate, where we then find that Marius is still alive. As Javert and Jean Valjean are in the carriage and preparing to head off, Jean Valjean asks for one last request to go home for a moment, and say goodbye to his adopted daughter Cosette. After a moment of silence, Javert takes Jean Valjean to his home and states that he will wait for Jean Valjean outside. Jean Valjean walks up the stairs of the small cottage and finds that Javert is no longer there.
This is where we find Javert at his tragic end. Jean Valjean, this bastard of a criminal who had escaped Javert for so long, had spared his life; and in doing so, had virtually ended it. Javert could not live with that fact – that undeniable truth that a convict had committed an act of selflessness when Javert thought Jean Valjean had hated him for so many years. It went against everything Javert knew, Jean Valjean had blurred the lines of right and wrong, and made it impossible for Javert to cope. He could not accept that a criminal, whose life was supposed to always be wrong in everything he did, could commit such a noble act. It was impossible for him to understand.
Javert resigned from his role as Police Inspector, and proceeded to the bridge above the Seine river, and let’s himself fall into the abyss of water. His body was found under a fishing boat a week later. Javert was not a man of cruel intention, but a man of justice and honor; he was also a man who was utterly confused about the nature of man, and what he thought was right from the very beginning.