The Count of Monte Cristo is ultimately a novel about vengeance. Edmond Dantes, in the prime of his life, is framed and imprisoned for treason. There are three men responsible for this: Fernand Mondego, Danglars, and Villefort. As a result of what they did to him, Dantes swears revenge. “You do not know that everyday of those fourteen years I renewed the vow of vengeance which I had made my first day… ” (Dumas 699). It is his striving for retribution that sets Edmond Dantes’ alias, the Count of Monte Cristo, apart from everyone else in the Parisian lifestyle.
Edmond Dantes is an important figure in any relationship, whether happily in love, enacting his revenge, or teaching and learning in turn. Despite the fact that the main themes of the novel are that of vengeance and hatred there is a lot of love to be uncovered. Edmond Dantes had three loves in his life: Mercedes, the beautiful Catalan; Haidee, the Greek princess; and himself, the Count of Monte Cristo. All three of his loves were on different levels but they all played a significant role in Dantes’ life.
At the age of nineteen, Dantes was in love with a beautiful, young woman. He absolutely adored her above all other ladies. Though he had been through tough times, he was content with his life. He was to be married to his lover and made captain of a prestigious ship. Mercedes, his lover, returned his affection and asserts without hesitation that if Dantes should die, she too would have to die. “If misfortune should occur to you, I would ascend the highest point of Cape Morgion and cast myself headlong from it. Although Mercedes claims that decades later she still loves Dantes her avowal did not come to pass. “I have thought you dead! Yes, dead, alas! I imagined your dead body buried at the foot of some gloomy tower, or cast to the bottom of a pit by hateful jailers, and I wept. ” (Dumas 700).
All she did was weep and pray. She did not throw herself off the cape, instead she married Fernand Mondego. While Mercedes waited ten years for Edmond before she married Mondego, Dantes spent fourteen years crying for her. Oh, Mercedes, I have uttered your name with the sigh of melancholy, with the groan of sorrow, with the last effort of despair; I have uttered it when frozen with cold, crouched on the straw in my dungeon; I have uttered it consumed with heat, rolling on the stone floor of my prison. ” (Dumas 700). Dantes recollects his love for Mercedes when she begs him to spare her son’s life. He consents even though it means his own death. Eventually Dantes’ and Mercedes’ passion for one another dies out: “But we must say farewell, Edmond, and let us part. ” (Dumas 842).
Dantes falls in love with a new woman, one he thought he loved as a father to a daughter, Dantes, in his adventures, buys a very young woman to help her escape from slavery. This girls name is Haidee. Dantes spoils Haidee, bringing her to operas and dressing her in diamonds. He believes that the farthest their love extends is between that of a father and a daughter. However, years later Dantes begins to realize that maybe Haidee loves him more than as a daughter to a father. “… the idea occurred to him for the first time, that perhaps she loved him otherwise than as a daughter loves a father. ” (Dumas 705).
Haidee, as Mercedes before her, proclaims that she needs no one or nothing after Dantes dies. “‘Well, if you die’, she said, ‘bequeath your fortune to others, for if you die I shall require nothing. ‘” (Dumas 705). It takes a while before Dantes realizes the depth of her love. It takes even longer for him to drop his fear and build up the confidence to ask her start out if she loves him. Haidee is overcome with emotion but finds it in her heart to reply. “I do love you! I love you as one loves a father, brother, husband! I love you as my life, for you are the best, the noblest of created beings. (Dumas 873).
Dantes has suffered through absolute despair and truly know that in all his life he has not felt as much happiness as this. Not even when he was in love with Mercedes did Dantes feel like this. He replies to Haidee’s confession with a profession of his own love. “One word from you has enlightened me more than twenty years of slow experience; I have but you in the world, Haidee; through you I again take hold of life… ” (Dumas 873). With his new found and requited love Dantes gives most of his fortune to Maximilian Morrel and starts a new life full of love and empty of vengeance.
Dantes not only loves others but he loves himself as well. His pride is very important to him and this is what keeps him motivated. All in all he still has himself, where there is life there is hope. Dantes is indeed a very proud man. He declares, “What I most loved after you, Mercedes, was myself, my dignity, and that strength which rendered me superior to other men; that strength was my life. ” (Dumas 701). Dantes’ pride and confidence is what frightens most of his enemies and why those who love him respect him. Dantes’ self-love is only taken down by one thing, God. “I have my pride for men…
But I lay aside that pride before God. ” (Dumas 397). It is with his pride that Dantes accomplishes all his vengeance and acts of providence. It comes to be that Edmond Dantes dies and a new person is reborn, the Count of Monte Cristo. The Count of Monte Cristo is wealthy, intelligent, and demands respect. Even his enemies admit that the Count, as he is sometimes referred to, is a great man. The Count not only gains respect but he gives it too. There are many who admire the Count and many of whom he admires. When Dantes is thrown into prison he is isolated from all others excluding his turnkey, who brings him food and drink.
Dantes comes to the resolution that death is the only way out. Thus he doesn’t eat until he hears a sound in the wall and hope is instilled in him. Eventually Dantes meets the Abbe Faria, the mad priest of the Chateau D’If, via the tunnel. The Abbe is like a second father to Dantes. He takes Dantes under his wing and saves Dantes. The Abbe supplies Dantes with a friend, a higher education, and an immense fortune. All of which enable Dantes to change his identity. The Abbe also allows Dantes a means of escape. Dantes takes the place of the dead Abbe and escapes from the formidable Chateau D’If.
All the education, help, and advice Abbe provided for him, Dantes can finally play his part as an agent of providence. Dantes and the Abbe Faria differ in many ways but the major difference is their opinion on revenge. Edmond Dantes swore retribution since the day he was put in prison but the Abbe did not like the idea of man versus man conflict. “Hitherto, I have fancied myself merely waging war against circumstance, not men. ” (Dumas 106). Despite their differences Dantes respects and owes many thanks to the Abbe Faria. Another being whom the Count of Monte Cristo respects is God.
Dantes believes himself to be an agent of God and providence. He asks himself, why these wicked men were not punished or why they, who were once poor, are now rich and influential. Dantes says, “I, betrayed, sacrificed, buried, have risen from my tomb, by the grace of God to punish that man. He sends me for that purpose, and here I am. ” (Dumas 699). Dantes’ pride is his strength but before God he lays his pride aside because God “has taken me from nothing to make me what I am. ” (Dumas 397). Dantes eventually fancies himself an equal to God.
But when his revenge on Villefort starts to go awry he doubts himself and finally admits defeat. “… pray sometimes for a man who like Satan, thought himself for an instant equal to God, but who now acknowledges with Christian humility that God alone possesses supreme power and infinite wisdom. ” (Dumas 874). Edmond Dantes, as the Count of Monte Cristo demands respect. His servants are completely devoted to him and are ready to execute all his orders, no questions asked. All those in the Parisian society also respect the Count and expect him at all their events.
For Dantes to keep up this appearance he has to remain frigid and indifferent to all his surroundings. His face gives way to no emotion but once in a while these emotions need to come out. Dantes finds this escape hatch in a friend, Maximilian Morrel. He allows Dantes to show all his real emotions; tears flow and smiles open to reveal Dantes pearly-white teeth. And like the Abbe to Dantes, Dantes takes Morrel under his wing and teaches him an important lesson. “There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another-nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living. ” (Dumas 874-5). Throughout the novel, Dantes interacts with many people, but it is his positive relationships that give light and hope to the otherwise dark book. The Count of Monte Cristo is about despair and happiness, love and hatred. It is the story of a man who lost everything he knew and loved and then rose above and played a role in providence. And finally ends with Edmond Dantes in the arms of his beloved Haidee.
Abbé Faria is quite possibly the greatest mentor ever. How else do you explain the transformation of the young, innocent Edmond Dantès into the ultimate playboy, the beautiful brilliant, learned, debonair millionaire manipulator called the Count of Monte Cristo? Seriously, the "mad" abbé takes Edmond under his wing, teaches him everything he knows, solves the mystery of Edmond's imprisonment, gives him the key to unlimited wealth and, finally, calls him his son.
And this is to say nothing of the abbé's personal accomplishments. He makes the most of his time in jail – when he's not trying to break out of it – by writing his masterwork, the Treatise on the Prospects for a General Monarchy in Italy. He, like Noirtier, is committed to his political ideals – in this case the notion of a unified Italy. He, like Noirtier, is also subject to terrible bouts of apoplexy – catalepsy if you want to pick nits – but in his case, they're fatal. Even after his death, he lives on in Edmond's heart.
It should be noted that Faria is responsible for awakening Edmond's thirst for revenge. He says as much in Chapter 17:
"I regret having helped you in your investigation and said what I did to you," he remarked.
"Why is that?" Dantès asked.
"Because I have insinuated a feeling into your heart that was not previously there: the desire for revenge." (17.93-95)
What do you think: is he's responsible for Edmond's desire for revenge? Does the good he does for Edmond ultimately outweighs the bad?