Victor Hugo, blah, classic of western literature, blah, magnificent characterization, blah, blah, historical detail, blah-de-fucking-blah. Great story.
He said to himself that it was true then, that there were exceptions, that authority might be put out of countenance, that rule might stop short before a fact, that everything was not framed in the text of the code, that the unforeseen would be obeyed, that the virtue of a convict might spread a snare for the virtue of a functionary, that the monstrous might be divine, that destiny had such ambuscades as these, and he thought with despair that even he had not been proof against a surprise.
He was compelled to recognize the existence of kindness. This convict had been kind. And he himself wonderful to tell, he had just been kind. Therefore he had become depraved.
He thought himself base. He was a horror to himself.
Javert's ideal was not to be humane, not to be great, not to be sublime, it was to be irreproachable. Now he had just failed.