Sam: Let’s talk about Valjean!
Javert: Let’s not.
Sam: Overruled. So it’s really hard to talk about Valjean without discussing Javert, therefore I’m not even going to try to avoid it, because I believe that that would entail missing the entire point of the character. We know for certain that both Valjean and Javert were based off of real-life criminalist Vidocq; and, to be honest? They’re not as different as they seem. Both pull themselves out of the hole of criminality into a better life, both can seem to sense the other whenever he is near; they have a tendency to be incredibly fair, Javert more so than Valjean; they are near unfaltering in their beliefs until the one moment that changes their lives. On all counts, they are mirrors of each other.
Sam: -will be quiet until Sam is done, and then I will get my turn. The strange thing is that Hugo seems to be setting up sort of a process for us: the beginning of that process is Valjean, learning acceptance and forgiveness; both forgiveness of oneself and of others; realizing that hate will get you nowhere, and that sometimes, love of others and doing good deeds are their own rewards in and of themselves. After that, we have Javert: you have done your good, you have obeyed whatever laws you have conformed yourself to, be it the law of religion or the law of the State; you have learnt to be fair, to judge with a crystal clear conscience; however, Javert’s character carries a note of caution at the end; these traits, while good, will become terrible if misused. Javert teaches us equality (ironic as it seems), Valjean teaches us moderation. The message simply wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have both.
Sam: -am so happy that Sam has so much to say on this topic that I am going to remain silent a little longer. Now Valjean’s character personally. I love, love, love Valjean. He’s so… good, while remaining human and believable. Can one man be that good? Absolutely. Because we are allowed to see his indecision, his torment, his moments of selfishness, and his lies. Were we to only see the book through, say, Cosette’s eyes, he would rarely do any wrong and we would be left with a two-dimensional character nigh on impossible to connect with. But Valjean is just so well-rounded, and he tries so damn hard to be good, and I can relate to him; and that’s pretty big! I don’t often relate to Les Mis characters! I love him, I really do, and I’m about done now. Let’s not talk about his death. Alright, Javert, you can go now.
Javert: It has come to my attention that I am not privy to as much information as the rest of you, so I will tell what I can; Valjean confuses me, obviously; how could he not? He is, by definition, a law-breaker and a convict. He was also a mayor. He is on the run from the force. He is also the Beggar Who Gives Alms. How can two such extremes exist in one man? They cannot, it is impossible; therefore, he must be one or the other. But which is it? I am inclined to say that it is the convict; and, if so, all of his saintliness is an act. However, I am hesitant; what convict puts himself on the line for a whore’s child? What convict smiles and allows the only officer in all of Paris who could pick him from a line without any trouble to maintain his position when given the opportunity to denounce him? I do not understand, and I am not wont to make a decision until I can be sure of myself. As such, he remains an enigma. Miscellaneously: I know far too much about him for my own good and regret to say that I have some grudging respect for his abilities. Are we done here?