A Very Musical Blog Party, Day 3: A Theatre Character to Defend

by - 2:36 PM


Today's prompt for the Very Musical Blog Party is to discuss or defend a theatre character you think is misunderstood.

I'm going to be talking about Javert.

"But Ellie we're tired of hearing about Les Miz."


If you read my last AVMBP post, you'll probably know who he is, but in case you haven't here's a quick summary: Javert is the name of a policeman in 1800s France. He's chasing a convicted thief named Jean Valjean who broke parole. However, unknown to Javert, Jean Valjean has actually repented and is a good man now as Javert continues to chase him. Because of this, Javert is the main antagonist in the musical. But in reality, he is just very misunderstood. Why?

1. He doesn't know Jean Valjean is good.

Imagine this: You're a police officer, and particularly rowdy criminal has just broken parole and run away. You devote the next fifteen years of your life to try to find him, yet he always slips out of your grasp. Then, he shows up claiming to have "reformed". Javert never really knew Valjean as the kind man he turned into - he only ever spent time around the convict Valjean. Hence, he didn't know Valjean had turned into a genuinely good person. For all he knew, Valjean was still a lawbreaking and dangerous convict - and if one of those was on the loose, wouldn't you try to round him up?

2. He doesn't know any different.

Javert was raised with the mentality that there's only good and evil, no "in between" or sinners who've repented. As flawed as this philosophy may be, it's all he's ever known and he doesn't know any different. So, naturally, when he applies this philosophy to his chase for Valjean, he cannot come to any conclusion other than that he is good and Valjean is bad. It is all he's ever known, and it is not his fault that no one ever taught him any different.

3. He realized he was wrong.

In a scene by the barricades, Jean Valjean has the opportunity to shoot Javert and doesn't. Javert is incredibly ripped up about this afterwards. Everything he's ever known in his entire life has just been turned upside down. He's so ripped up about it that he jumps off a bridge and commits suicide. Some people say this is Javert running from the truth, but, on the contrary, it is him realizing he was wrong the whole time. Instead of being stubborn and refusing to admit Valjean's reformation and continuing to chase him, Javert comes to the startling and sad conclusion that it was he who was wrong for the past fifteen years, that his moral code was imperfect - a conclusion that crushed him. He had never pursued evil, he had always strove to be good - and the realization that maybe he hadn't been left him in agony that soon resulted in suicide.

Some quotes from the book:

"His supreme anguish was the loss of all certainty.  He felt that he was uprooted.  The code was now but a stump in his hand."

"All that he had believed was dissipated.  Truths which he had no wish for inexorably besieged him.  he must henceforth be another man.  He suffered the strange pangs of a conscience suddenly operated on for the cataract.  He felt that he was emptied, useless, broken off from his past life, destitute, dissolved."

I believe he really is one of the most "good" characters in musical theatre, to be honest. Because look at the lengths he went to to try to do what he thought was right.

Well, that concludes my defense of Javert.

See ya in another day or two with another musical post :).



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  1. My need to watch this is becoming more and more urgent because I see how much you love it and I want to be excited with you but I hardly even know what we're talking about and it's frustrating. I intend to find les miserables the musical and watch it this weekend. That's right folks. This very weekend!


  2. Javert always made me sad. I feel like he was kind of crazy when the musical began and as it went on he just got worse and worse, and his revolution with Jean Valjean set him over the edge. I don't think he was in his right mind when he committed suicide, and that is why he was saved. (I say this because I noticed at the end of the musical he is in heaven.... is it different in the book?) ANYWAY. his character always hurt me.

    1. IKR. Poor baby. I felt so bad for him throughout.


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