Compare and Contrast Jean Val Jean with Javert. An allegorical characters who represent mercy and law respectively.

Essay by andrewhuiCollege, UndergraduateC-, June 2005

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The main character of the story is Jean Val Jean. He is a large man, very strong, but with a good heart. The minor characters are Javert, a police investigator, who is said to have a "bullet-shaped head". He is tall and sinewy, with coarse black hair. Other characters are Marius, a young law student that falls in love with Cosette, and the bishop, a very kind, generous, selfless man.

Both of them are relentless and kindness, but the opposite of obeying the law. Jean stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister's hungry children and was sentenced to five years in prison. While there, he tried to escape several times and the five years stretched to nineteen. He became bitter and filled with hatred. Finally he was released, but was given a yellow passport so that wherever he went, people would know he had been in prison.

Because of this, he was turned away from every place he went to. Just when he had given up hope, he was directed to a kindly bishop's house, where he was welcomed with open arms. There the bishop challenged him to leave his old life behind and start a new life dedicated to God and to good.

On the other hand, during a battle, Jean had an opportunity to kill Javert, but decided not to. Marius was seriously injured, so Jean took him away from the battle. They eventually came upon Javert who promptly arrested Jean. Jean agreed to go with him as long as Marius was taken care of. Javert decided that he could not arrest him after Jean had spared his life, so he left and committed suicide, the order in his world destroyed.