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Javert is the truly the best guy in Les Mis

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/25/2014 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 823 times Debate No: 53383
Debate Rounds (3)
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(This argument only pertains to the movie adaptation of the musical, not the musical adaptation of the book)
Javert is truly the BEST guy in Les Mis.
Now, when I say "best" guy, I mean that while there are several "good guys" in the movie, Javert is the most good morally and ethically. Also "good", in this case, is measured in lack of bad deeds and not an abundance of good ones.
Also, when I say guy, I mean it literally. Javert is the most morally and ethically upstanding MALE in the movie.
Now for the actual debate...

To begin, Jean Valjean cannot be the most upstanding man ethically because he stole a loaf of bread. At this point, one might think, "Gee, you're being pretty strict. I mean, after all, he did it for his nephew." That's what Jean Valjean wants you to believe. Jean Valjean steals the bread and goes to jail, but instead of serving his time he tries to escape, just to selfishly save himself. He would have known the consequences. I mean, if you live in a world where stealing bread gets you five years in jail, you can only assume that trying to escape prison is a very bad idea. Jean Valjean knew this. The best thing for his nephew would be for him to stay in prison. Yet, he escapes and ends up with 14 more years to serve. Even then, he escapes justice and lies to everyone about his identity. He also only takes Cosette into his care because he feels guilty for negligently winding Fantine up in a prostitution ring. This is the same reason he saves Marius: he needs a way out of having to care for Cosette.
Marius is not exempt either, along with all of the other male revolutionaries. They commit treason! They prey on innocent people to achieve their goals by taking their furniture.

Javert, however, is just doing his job. He keeps the peace, never kills anyone, and actually gives Valjean a chance at redemption (insofar as he is able) by providing parole for him.


First off, Jean Valjean did not steal bread and attempt to escape out of selfishness, but rather out of selflessness for his sister. He kept his past secret out of necessity. His attempt at the loaf of bread was for his starving family and if people knew only of his criminal record, they would get the wrong idea about who he was. His biggest fault was to steal the silver from the priest. Valjean has greater moral value than Javert, while Javert has greater ethical value. Assuming that ethics and morals themselves have equal value, this puts them tied (and thus, making such an assumption, Javert is not the best guy in Les Miserables).

Enjolras and Marius both have immoral intentions, however are irrational and irresponsible. This speaks for all the students at the June Revolution.

Now to break down Javert. He is devoted to the law and believes he is truly doing the right thing in committing himself in absolution to it. He does, however, make preconceptions without investigating the matter properly when he suspects Valjean (as the mayor) of being Valjean. The other man simply had a brand on his chest and Javert should have made sure the mayor wasn't Valjean instead of backing off the investigation due to his high status and a small amount of evidence of the contrary. Also, Javert disguised himself as the enemy and went behind their lines as a friend, a crime in every conflict and a violation of every principle of ethics that he stood by so firmly. Lastly Javert, in the final moments, deserted his absolute devotion to the law and let Valjean the criminal and Marius the revolutionary go. When he is ethically solid, he is morally lacking, and when he embraces morality, he loses his ethical value.

The Priest is the only Character to show unflinching morality and ethics by offering the stranger bread, and then altering the destructive path that he was headed and rectify his life.

Priest - 10
Valjean - 7
Javert - 7
Students - 2
Inkeeper - 0
Debate Round No. 1


I would argue that ethically the priest is corrupt as well. In this argument, so far, we assume that ethics is the equivalent of law and morals is the equivalent of religion. The priest breaks both. The priest breaks the law by lying to the soldiers that bring Jean Valjean to him as well as aiding him in breaking his parole. In his lying especially he breaks his moral code.

Also, the fact that Javert does not follow up in an investigation is his perogotive and cannot be counted against him neither as an ethical nor moral shortcoming. Also, Javert spying is not a shortcoming in any way either. This is because he declares that he "is the law, and the law is not mocked." This is the only referance we have as to the legal system in Les Mis (the movie). One must always assume that the physics of a movie universe work differently than the real world since people don't break into song in real life. Under this statement, Javert declares that he is the epitome of the Les Miserablian law. Thus, he is the epitome of ethics. He furthermore goes on to explain in his monologue-song "Stars" his moral compass which is based off of law and justice. Therefore, because his ethics and his morals are one and the same, he cannot retain morals and lack ethics or vice versa. You previously said that he would compromise one value and retain the other, but in actuality, he retains both.

Under the same thinking of religion equates to morals and law equates to ethics, Valjean's redeeming moral traits that you alluded to are nonexistent. Prior to breaking parole and changing his identity, which is unethical, he has no religion and therefore no morals. Then afterwards he seemingly converts to a Les Mis Christianity. He sins against his own religion by not sacrificing. He takes Cosette into his "care", which is more of a type of slavery. She must follow his every whim because he did the wrong thing in the past. Because he enslaves Cosette, he is not moral.


First for the priest. He did not request Valjean to return the silver as soon as the guards were gone, he had given them to Valjean, whether or not Valjean had realized it. Also there is no reason to believe that the priest knew who Valjean was previously or had any knowledge of his breaking parole.

Javert's investigation was flawed as it gave the blame to the wrong person, I see no argument as to why this bears no fault. To say that Javert's perfection is based off of Javert's own views and Javert himself sets the standard as the best guy in Les Mis would end the argument before it ever began. It is circular reasoning making the argument lacking in any soundness. It's like saying "if Javert is the best guy in Les Mis, then Javert is the best guy in Les MIs". This assessment must be based on common outside principles of law, morals and ethics.

Javert does indeed indicate in his words that his ethics and morals are one and the same, however his actions indicate otherwise. In his final moments, Javert has the chance not only to capture the parole breaking criminal Valjean that he has chased for so long, but also to catch Marius, the rebel who he is legally obligated to capture or kill. Ethically, Javert should take them both into custody, however, he knows that he is morally obligated to let Valjean go since Valjean let him go earlier on.

Valjean has in no way enslaved Cosette, in fact quite the opposite. He does seem protective, however when considering they are in pre-revolutionary France, such measures would seem necessary. Also, without Valjean, Cosette would still have been sweeping the floors for the innkeeper, or possibly dead frozen in the woods getting water. Valjean gained nothing by taking her as a responsibility, but followed his conscience and did so nonetheless.

As for Valjean Breaking his identity, Javert has himself mocked the law and done the same thing, and for less Justifiable reasons.
Debate Round No. 2


hephaestus forfeited this round.


Unfortunately I have no material to debate for this round
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
This is a FANTASTIC topic. I completely disagree with the resolution because my sympathy is almost wholly for Jean Valjean, but I'll say nothing more that potential contenders may offer their own arguments.
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