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Inspector Javert

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Inspector Javert
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Biographical information
Also Known As








Cause of Death



Prison Guard (formerly)
Police Inspector

Behind the scenes

see list

Inspector Javert is the main antagonist from the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and its musical counterpart.



Javert as he appears in the novel

Javert was born in a prison in 1780 to a fortuneteller, and a father who was a galley slave. He grew up on the streets, until he became a prison guard in Toulon in 1803, at the age of 23. It was here that he first came across Jean Valjean, a convict who was was serving nineteen years in prison for theft, and multiple escape attempts.

Javert's first appearance in the book is in Montreuil sur Mer, where he is a newly-appointed inspector under the mayor, Monsieur Madeleine. Madeleine, who was already running a successful and well-established business involving the production of beads, becomes mayor of the town at around the same time as Javert arrives. The mayor is truly Jean Valjean, who is merely going under the alias of Monsieur Madeleine.

At the docks in Montreuil sur Mer, Javert arrests the prostitute Fantine for attacking a bourgeois, Bamatabois. He sentences her to six months in prison, as, at the time, Inspectors could do what they pleased with the people of Fantine's class. However, before he can lock her up behind bars, Monsieur Madeleine intervenes, freeing her. Seeing as she is ill with tuberculosis, the mayor takes her to the hospital, to Javert's great protest.

When Old Fauchelevent, a villager, gets trapped under a fallen cart, Madeleine uses his exceptional strength to help lift the cart off of him. The power that Monsieur Madeleine exudes confirms Javert's suspicion that the man is Jean Valjean, thus sends in a report to the Prefecture, denouncing the mayor as an ex-convict.

After a few days, Javert receives a letter stating that Jean Valjean had been arrested in Arras, going under the name of Champmathieu, and that is is summoned to the trial. Upon seeing the innocent Champmathieu, Javert believes that he recognizes him as Jean Valjean. He then returns to Monsieur Madeleine, the true Valjean and asks to be dismissed from his position as Inspector. The mayor, however, states that Javert is at no fault, as he had only followed his duty. It is after this that Monsieur Madeleine goes to the same trial and reveals himself as being Jean Valjean.

Upon hearing the news that Monsieur Madeleine had been Jean Valjean all along, Javert goes to the hospital where Fantine is ill, and knows Valjean visits often. When Fantine sees Javert, she dies from the sudden shock, as she believes that he is still out to arrest her. His intention was to arrest Valjean, which he does succeed in doing. He is sent back to Toulon.

Less than a year later, Javert reads in the paper that Jean Valjean has died, although he hears rumours about a man living in the Gorbeau tenement, who apparently has a coat lined with millions, which he gives to the poor. Javert then moves into a neighbouring room in the tenement, disguising himself as a mendicant. At night, when Valjean gives him the money, they recognize each other instantly. By the next evening, Javert brings in other officers to chase him down, but it is too late, and Valjean escapes with the young child Cosette.

Following the suspicious activity of the Patron Minette, Javert is alerted of a robbery that was scheduled to take place in the very same Gorbeau tenement as years prior. The man who brings this to his attention is Marius Pontmercy, upon whom he bestows two pistols to shoot in case of danger. Waiting outside the house, and despite not hearing the pistol-shot, Javert enters to confront the Patron Minette, the most dangerous gang in Paris, single-handedly. He manages to arrest all of them, save for Claquesous.

In the year 1832, Javert, now Inspector of the First Class under the Prefecture of Police, disguises himself, and becomes a spy, relaying false information to the boys at the barricades. However, before he can do much damage, the Thénardier boy, Gavroche, recognizes him, and informs the leader of Les Amis; Enjolras. With very little provocation, Javert then admits to being a spy, and is quickly tied up in the back room of the Musain. Before the barricades fall, Jean Valjean, who was at the barricades to rescue Marius, ends up also saving Javert's life, by volunteering to shoot him. Valjean takes Javert to a place where no onlookers are able to see, then unties him and fires the gun in the opposite direction, allowing him to go free. Marius, who remembered Javert from the Gorbeau tenement, believes that Valjean has murdered Javert.

Javert returns promptly to his post by the Seine, waiting with a fiacre he had hired, when he sees a man emerge from the sewers, with another slung over his shoulder. So covered in sewage is the man, that Javert doesn't recognize him until he states that he is Jean Valjean. He is about to arrest Valjean once more, when the man requests for Javert to take him to Marius' grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand. With great hesitation, he eventually does so, and once that deed has been completed, he takes Valjean to his residence for only a brief moment. When Valjean returns from his house, ready to be taken back to prison, Javert is gone.

Returning to the parapet by the Seine, Javert enters, and begins to write "Notes for the good of the service", pertaining to the slight betterment of overall life in prison. This strongly reflects Javert's change of heart, as before that moment, he merely cared about his duty, and not the negative consequences that his actions would bestow upon others. Javert, being one who could only see in black or white, found it impossible that a man like Jean Valjean, who had been an ex-convict, could have possibly bettered himself. In Javert's mind, any path he took would have been wrong, due to his now-shattered world views, and growing admiration for Valjean. He knew that to set Valjean free would be to release a felon, yet to arrest him would be to arrest a good man. This inner derailment, and utter inability to choose a side, forces Javert to choose the only path he sees before him- suicide. He dies by throwing himself into the raging waters of the Seine from off of a parapet. Soon after, his body is found and recovered from the water, then is disposed of.


In the bookEdit

Javert is a meticulous man, who is driven by his passion to fulfill his duty. His actions are full of both confidence and conviction, and he is quite sure of himself in general. Javert despises thinking, unless it pertains to the law, which contributes towards his strong dislike towards reading. It makes it easier, however, for him to maintain his composed façade whilst deep in thought on the job. He is able to keep absolutely calm in otherwise stressful situations, such as confronting the Patron Minette, a dangerous Parisian gang, alone.

He is extremely ruthless, deadpan and straightforward, carrying out his orders to the letter. He was feared by practically everyone in the story, and everybody he meets becomes immediately afraid of him - except for Jean Valjean. Inspector Javert does have a few quirks and odd habits. Although he is a man who allows himself little pleasure, he occasionally takes a pinch of snuff, though it is nothing frequent. He has a habit of muttering into his cravat, as well as fiddling with small objects.

One of the many flaws of Javert is that he is honest. This is indeed a flaw because, as a spy especially, he is forced to pretend as if he were not an Inspector. This can prove difficult if he is recognized, as he is on the barricades by Gavroche. His brutal honesty is what leads him to confess to being a spy without hesitation.

Javert's black and white world view is prominent throughout the whole book, yet it is most blatant in the chapter Javert's Derailment. (Javert in Disarray in some translations) To see the world in two ways, black or white, meant that there was always a choice which was good, and a choice which was bad. It meant, also, that either a man was good, or a man was bad. This was what led Javert to be so confident to the point of recklessness. In the end, his inability to be able to see grey, or accept that man could change, and not every answer was wholly right nor wholly wrong, led to his downfall.



Act IEdit

Act IIEdit

External LinksEdit



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