I know I've talked about Javert at great length before...but this is Les Miserables week after all. I can't possibly talk about Les Miz without Javert.
Without Javert, Les Miz would lose its beautiful story.
I don't mean that Javert is the main character or that he is highly admirable. But without his contrast against Jean Valjean, you would lose much of the compelling character elements of the story.
Isn't one of the major elements of the story how Javert and Jean Valjean react differently to similar changes, feelings, and circumstances?
The musical highlights this directly and beautifully and the book more subtly and satisfyingly. I can't really even talk about the movie versions. Most of them have some fatal error (in my opinion) when depicting Javert. Geoffry Rush does a great job in moments, but the whole ending is awful.
I sincerely believe that Javert is one of the most fascinating characters in all of fiction. Victor Hugo really shows his genius with his creation.
One of my great disappointments with the musical is the way it handles the section when Javert reacts after accusing Monsieur Madeleine of being Jean Valjean. This is a major point of Javert's character. It proves that he holds himself to the same standards. This is one of the only points I resonate with Geoffry Rush's portrayal.
The musical shows this briefly in Javert's last scenes when he insists Jean Valjean should shoot him, but I think it's an important part of Javert that should be shown as it is in the book. The way the musical is, that earlier section doesn't even really make sense.
Having said that, I think otherwise the musical does a fabulous job of capturing the complexities of Javert...an unimaginably hard task. My original turn off for the musical when I only heard about it was picturing Javert singing. Somehow they pulled it off beautifully.
I want to write characters as complex and intriguing, as consistent yet changing, as human and yet bigger than life as Javert. And I'm going to keep studying Victor Hugo until I can. I know I'll never master it, so this probably means I should die with Les Miserables in my hands, but I want to learn all of it I can.
What do you think? What other characters really stand out to you in fiction? They don't have to be good. They just need to feel real and fascinating. How do authors do it?
Thanks for reading,