Look Down, Look Down, Upon Your Fellow Man!
I was writing this afternoon while listening to Les Misérables on Youtube, and damned if the last hour or so of the musical completely tear me away from the writing. Okay, it’s possible that I was also having a tough time with the writing and was more willing to be distracted than usual, but still… Damn that’s a good show.
Looking forward to the movie, but honestly the all-star cast is going to have a tough time living up to the standards set by the London cast I saw. Javert especially stuck out to me, he was on Darth Vader’s level of scary. Good luck matching that, Russell Crowe!
Anyway, I noticed something about Javert’s last song. Spoilers ahoy from here on out!
Javert finds himself trapped between his principles after an escaped convict saves his life. His duty as an officer of the law is clear, apprehend the convict, but he doesn’t feel he can do that to a man who saved his life, asked nothing in return, not even an end to the chase.
What occurred to me as I listened to Javert agonize over this was that he doesn’t believe in justice.
He sees the world as clearly delineated between good people and bad, and as a convict Valjean is bad. That Valjean doesn’t see it as such a simple thing, that he frees Javert not for selfish reasons but simply because he thinks it’s the right thing to do, is so outside Javert’s world view that he can’t cope with it.
Javert understood when he thought Valjean was going to kill him because that fit in the “us vs them” attitude he lived by. When Valjean put himself outside the categories Javert knew, the cognitive dissonance was overwhelming.
Had Javert believed in justice he could have decided that the law was just, and arrested Valjean without malice, or that the law was unjust and joined those on the barricades (or perhaps come up with a better plan than the Amis of the ABC had) or that the law was generally just but not in this situation and decided which way to make the exception. But he didn’t, to him it was two tribes at war, one was righteous & good and the other depraved and evil.
And in a strange way, this is totally consistent. To Javert criminals aren’t made, but born. Justice is nothing but the Judges rulings.
I’ve picked up bad habits from NaNoWriMo, this post could easily have been two paragraphs. Ah well…