Les Mis – Act ??
The song “stars” is Javert’s main number. It is placed at the beginning of the story, in the play. But in the movie, it is sung right after Valjean rescues Cosette. So, I’ll put it here after Act IV for now.
Who Is Javert?
At the very start of the story we learn that he dehumanizes people and becomes obsessive about justice. That is, Jean Valjean tells Javert that his name is Jean Valjean, but Javert will only address him as 24601. Then once Jean Valjean breaks parole by getting rid of that piece of paper and living under a different name (without sin or crime), Javert swears never to rest until Valjean is put in jail again. He see that his obsession with the law is a graceless and unhealthy obsession.
His source of inspiration is the stars – Javert expects people to obey God as much as the stars do – and his idea of God is a graceless fellow who does not like redemption or mercy.
We see this desperate lack of love/grace/mercy/humanity when he is about to throw a dying Fantine into jail – based on a false charge – even though she pleads that her child will die if she goes to jail.
I have heard such protestations
Every day for twenty years
Let’s have no more explanations
Save your breath and save your tears
Honest work, just reward,
That’s the way to please the Lord.
Yet there is more to his story than that. As he said to Valjean:
In his back story, we learn that he was “born with scum like [Valjean] you! I am from the gutter too!” He worked his way up from the bottom, and he isn’t about to accept a handout now. This becomes his moral weakness, since Valjean shows him mercy later, and then he responds by relenting and letting Valjean go to save Marcus. Can he live with mercy and grace?
“Damned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase.
I am the Law and the Law is not mocked!
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert! “
And he kills himself. He is not among the resurrected characters who found rest and accepted death. He swore that he would not rest until Valjean was punished, and now that it’s clear that that will never happen – he kills himself rather than finding rest or grace.
Act V: CLICK HERE to continue to the next act