Olivia's Reviews > The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
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's review
Jan 26, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: classic, historical-fiction
Recommended to Olivia by: English class
Read in June, 2007

An essay for English-again, not that great.

The classic French novel, The Count of Monte Cristo was written by Alexandre Dumas. The setting of The Count of Monte Cristo is very important as the politics of the day greatly affect the plot. It takes place primarily in France after the exile of the former emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The novel begins in 1815 with Napoleon exiled to Elba and continues through the years after his failed revolution to1844.

The protagonist of The Count of Monte Cristo is Edmond Dantes, a naïve but good-hearted sailor, who is falsely accused of treason. He is employed by the honest owner of a shipping company, Monsieur Morrel. Count of Monte Cristo is one of several aliases a bitter Dantes adopts after his imprisonment. Before he is arrested, Dantes lives with his father, Louis Dantes, and is engaged to marry a beautiful girl, Mercedes. Mercedes is admired by and later marries Fernand Mondego, one of the men who conspire against Dantes. Mondego is aided in framing Dantes by Danglars, an envious sailor who was passed over for a promotion given to Dantes and Gerard de Villefort, an ambitious prosecutor with the misfortune of having a Bonapartist father. While in prison, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner, Abbe Faria, who becomes his mentor. Dantes is greatly affected by Abbe Faria; it is he who helps Dantes discover the plot against him, teaches him science and several languages, provides his great wealth and enables his escape from Chateau Dif. After his escape, Dantes meets children of both his friends and enemies from his life before his incarceration. Maximilian Morrel is a good man and the son of Dantes’s former employer, Monsieur Morrel. Maximilian is in love with a kind, young girl, Valentine de Villefort daughter of Gerard de Villefort- the prosecutor who sentenced Edmond. Albert de Morcerf, a spoiled but loyal young man, is the son of Dantes’s former fiancée, Mercedes, and his nemesis, Fernand Mondego. Then there is Haydee, the slave girl Dantes grows to love whose tragic history is vital to the ruining of Fernand Mondego.

The Count of Monte Cristo is the story of Edmond Dantes, a kind sailor who is imprisoned under false charges of treason. After fourteen years in the prison Chateau Dif, Dantes escapes, but he is irreversibly altered. He is no longer naïve and ignorant but learned, callous and thirsty for vengeance. Dantes acquires a great deal of wealth and makes new names for himself: Lord Wilmore, Abbe Busoni, Sinbad the Sailor and Count of Monte Cristo. As he plans the downfall of his betrayers, Dantes discovers that by destroying them he has allowed himself to become as evil as they. After this epiphany, he repents and extends mercy to his remaining enemy. In the end, he returns to Chateau Dif, to visit his cell and is finally able to let go of his bitterness and find peace.

The climax of the story is the success of the Count of Monte Cristo’s meticulous quest for revenge against the people responsible for robbing him of his happiness by sending him to prison. While he was imprisoned, Edmond Dantes vowed that he would have vengeance against the people who put him there. Thus, from the moment he escapes, his entire focus is on ruining the lives of these individuals as thoroughly as they ruined his. He continues along this path without remorse until his plans go wrong, and he unintentionally causes the death of Monsieur de Villefort’s young son. This sobering event forces him to realize his own cruelty.

An important theme in The Count of Monte Cristo is the Count’s struggle with his God-complex. Consumed by his desire for revenge, the Count feels that he alone can see that justice is done against Villefort, Caderousse, Danglars, and Fernand, and he is completely unscrupulous in his methods of carrying it out. He decides who deserves to live and who deserves to die and plans their demise accordingly. The Count sees all the hypocrisy and cruelty in others and punishes them for it, but he sees none of these vices in himself. Toward the end of the novel, the Count understands that he is not immune to human weakness and that by seeking revenge against these people he is behaving as mercilessly and selfishly to them as they were to him.

The Count of Monte Cristo is not my favorite book, but it is not my least favorite either. There are aspects of The Count of Monte Cristo that I think Dumas executed marvelously. The plot, for instance, is amazingly detailed, and the characterization is wonderful. Dumas had so many characters in this novel, yet he was able to make each one unique and portray them in such a way that we, the readers, understand them and their motivations. I love character driven stories so, for me, connecting with and understanding the characters is the most important facet of a story. The Count of Monte Cristo has several great, round characters, even if they are not my personal favorite. Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Allen your review (positive overall) is at odds with your rating. Why do you give just 2 stars?

Nathan Fears I was wondering the same exact thing Allen...

Maroosh Qazi I am wondering the same thing as well

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