Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:10
Throughout the whole of Les Misérables, Javert and Jean Valjean are at odds with each other. While this may seem obvious in the sense of their relationship of jailer to jailed, it actually becomes more evident when one observes how they treat moral laws, hope, and ultimately forgiveness.
In his song, “Stars”, Javert has a strictly rational approach to the law; one that is suffused with ruthless logic. It leaves no hope for either the pitiful Fantine, seeking to bring care to her Cosette, or Jean Valjean, with his constant escapades to right his wrongs. Javert simply appeals to this “system” which declares that all must be perfectly in order. This system of justice appeals to the strictest interpretation of the law. It is one simply of crime and punishment, and of numbers and judgments. There is no room for forgiveness simply because all are either like Lucifer, falling from God, or like the flawlessly ordered stars. Thus, Javert builds an impassable wall between heaven and sin.
Yet, what actually holds that bridge between heaven and earth? Forgiveness and repentance. The purifying of one’s soul, as well as the ambition to heaven from earth, is the theme of Jean Valjean’s existence. He, when being lifted up by the Bishop of Dinge, feels commissioned to lift others up despite his past. He shows this through his compassion for Fantine, Cosette, and even Javert.
We see “Javert’s suicide” as the result of Valjean sparing Javert’s life. This act is completely natural to Jean Valjean, for he is at peace knowing the true meaning of the moral codes of society. He knows all people are created in God’s image. This sends Javert over the edge because he knows that if the roles were reversed, he would have killed Valjean without a moment’s pause. However, a man who he believes belongs in hell has shown him God’s forgiveness. If someone as “lowly” as Valjean can be more sincere than him, his life is shameful and hopeless.
Such hopelessness should be coupled with Bring Him Home.
Valjean knows that Cosette loves Marius. Therefore, for love of her and life, he rescues him from the barricades. Even though he feels as though Marius is replacing him as Cosette’s primary protector and hero, he is willing to sacrifice his own life to bring another man peace and love. We see in this breathtaking ballad how Valjean views others. He believes everyone deserves life , and is willing to sacrifice his, just as Christ sacrificed for us.
Thus, the bridge of forgiveness – the striving for heaven that he and the numerous characters echo throughout the play – is bolstered by a sincere love.
Such a love is needed in today’s society. How do we view of the sinner? Do we look at humanity like Javert or like Jean Valjean? “Bring Him Home” in its utter selflessness, can be reflected as a universal anthem. Sinners, when looked upon by Javert, are judged mercilessly. However if we were to look at the world through the eyes of Jean Valjean, we would see a world filled with God’s love and hope. Valjean’s attitude towards himself and others shows us how we must help our brother and sisters reach heaven. For if we are to be God’s servants, we must love rather than judge, be friends rather than enemies, and rescuers rather than punishers.