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In Les Misérables the Inn keeper follows Valjean after he takes Cosette. He's paid VERY well for her. He never really liked her anyway. Why is he so determined to track and (I'm not even sure what, kill? expose? bribe?) Valjean?

Why does he then confront Marius with the ring in an attempt to discredit his father-in-law?

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My memory of the movie may not be that good but does Thenardier really pursue Valjean? All he does is try to get more money for Cosette (I think) seeing that Valjean is quite a wealthy man and has a high interest in her. And later he just denounces him to the police when he sees him accidentally. Thenardier may just not like him, given that his life isn't too good and maybe he wants the bounty for finding the criminal Valjean. Likewise the confrontation of Marius may be just for him to reconsider Eponine instead if Cosette... –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 26 '13 at 13:25
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...And in the end Thenardier is just not a good person but kind of a greedy little rat, so he might just do things to denoucne other people in order to get a personal advantage out of it. (Again I feel I've already written too much into a simple comment. ;)) –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 26 '13 at 13:26
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Strictly in terms of the movie, Thenardier extorts as much as he can from Valjean initially, for the reasons that @Christian_Rau mentions (sees his wealth, knows he's willing to pay a lot). Later in life, their meeting comes not from any pursual of Valjean, but rather from chance. The Thenardiers are living in Paris, learn Valjean and Cosette have moved there, and plan to rob them (again, knowing how wealthy he is, and also out of revenge).

The scene with the ring is actually not really an attempt to discredit Valjean, but an attempt to blackmail Marius -- Thenardier is hoping that Marius will pay him well to keep the secret about Valjean "looting" bodies in the sewer. It backfires, though, as it's the piece of information that lets Marius know his father-in-law saved his life.

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Great answer - one question "and also out of revenge" revenge for what? –  Liath Aug 27 '13 at 20:17
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After Valjean left with Cosette, Thenardier felt like he still could have gotten more, and so that gradually turned into a "he cheated me" sentiment. The lyrics he sings (I assume we're talking about the musical movie?) are this: "Ten years ago He came and paid for Cosette I let her go for a song It's time we settled the debt This'll cost him dear" –  jlmcdonald Aug 28 '13 at 5:18
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