The count of Monte Cristo: Theme Analysis
The Count of Monte Cristo is a story about revenge. The story features the life of Edmond Dantes, a young sailor who successfully docks the ‘Pharaon’, a French ship, when the captain passes away at sea. Following this successful feat, Dantes is promised to become the ship’s captain. However, Dantes is unaware of a conspiracy hatched by Mondego, Caderousse, Villefort, and Danglars to have him jailed. The motivations for these men to have Dantes jailed are varied: Danglars wants the ship’s captainship, Villefort is afraid that Dantes will deliver a certain letter to his father, Mondego is jealous of Dantes friendship with Mercedes, while Caderousse generally dislikes Dantes. The four men develop a wicked plan to have Dantes jailed in a secret location. After many years of incarceration, Dantes manages to escape from the incarceration facility and to reclaim his rightful place. He also plans vengeance against the men who plotted his imprisonment. This paper is a critical overview of the emerging themes from the story.
One of the persistent themes throughout the plot is revenge. After the wrongful imprisonment of Dante by his enemies, he spends a significant amount of time plotting about how he will seek vengeance (Castelnuovo-Tedesco 16). After his escape from prison, Dantes is thankful to God for giving him an opportunity to actualize his plans for vengeance against his enemies. After Dantes leaves prison, he immediately transforms from an innocent young man to a hardened and mistrustful man. Following his escape from prison, Dantes is now a rich man. He first meets Caderousse, who is living in abject poverty. He reckons that this is enough punishment for him from God, for having had no courage to rescue him from imprisonment. Dantes proceeds to meet Danglars, currently a banker and one of the rich men in the region. Dante devises a plot to borrow some huge amount of money from Danglars. He uses his influence to control the stock market, causing Danglars’ fortunes to depreciate. He also seeks revenge against Villefort.
Another theme evident from the plot is redemption. Redemption concerns deliverance from sins. Dantes manipulates and lies to those close to him in order to obtain revenge (Sennwald 1). Nonetheless, he still rewards those who stood by his side. His efforts to revenge against all his enemies soon face unexpected challenges. After the death of Villefort’s son, Edward, Dante comes to his senses, realizing that he has pushed the revenge mission too far. He feels bad about the whole issue, and he considers himself not worthy of seeking revenge (Novelguide 1). Dante is remorseful that his revenge mission has resulted in the death of an innocent young man. The chapter says, “Monte Cristo became pale at this horrible sight…” (Dumas 438). The series of these incidents lead Dante into forgiving his enemies.
The theme of love and disaffection is also evident. Dantes stays in isolation during his entire imprisonment period. He feels isolated from people and the community at large. Dantes lacks the normal human emotions of excitement, joy, or even sadness. His isolation during imprisonment contributes to his current disaffection. His only feelings are those relating to vengeance (Sennwald 1). His disaffection is also the result of lack of affection towards anyone. This becomes worse following the death of Abbe Faria, his only friend during imprisonment. Upon his escape, Dantes comes to learn that Mercedes is married to another man. This increases his sense of loneliness and isolation. Eventually, Dantes falls in love with Haydee, who instills in him a sense of humanity. By falling in love with Haydee, Dantes rediscovers his lost emotions and attachment to others. Another form of love is between family members. Valentine loves her grandfather who has sacrificed a lot for her. Valentine says to Nortier, “I understand, …, it’s because you love me and you’re afraid I’ll be unhappy” (Dumas 247).
Another theme evident from the story is perseverance. The author portrays Dantes as a very perseverant man, judging by the immense challenges he goes through including imprisonment. Dantes spends over 10 years plotting how he will revenge his wrongful imprisonment. The book highlights that that those who are perseverant will reap the benefits in the end. After persevering the inhuman conditions in prison, Dantes is able to locate wealth as promised by Abbe in a remote island. He becomes very rich and influential after acquiring the wealth. Prior to his imprisonment, Dantes had spent considerable time figuring out what career was best for him. When he was finally excited that he would become the ship’s captain, the world turned against him; Dantes faced a life imprisonment in a maximum-security facility. As Dantes asserts, human wisdom can be summed up in two words, “wait and hope” (Dumas 463). This highlights the importance of patience and hope for a brighter day.
Another evident them is human justice. Dantes experiences a wrongful imprisonment, which is a reflection of the injustices in the society (De Qian 1). The status of justice in the society seems corrupted. Dantes resolves to take matters into his own hands while out of prison. He devises an elaborate plan to seek revenge against his enemies. It this case, it is not possible for justice to prevail not unless Dantes takes the law into his own hands. The law has failed to ensure that the criminal elements in the society are imprisoned. Instead, the innocent ones like Dantes are imprisoned. Dantes believes that by simply uncovering the truth, justice will not prevail. He feels that in order for justice to prevail, those who contributed to his imprisonment must also feel pain and anguish – just like the pain he experienced while in prison. The pain and anguish should be followed by death. This was Dante’s way of seeking justice.
The theme of hatred is also evident (De Qian 1). Hatred brings jealousy and feelings of anger. Danglars and Fernand contrive a non-existent criminal act and accuse Dantes of committing a heinous offense. In particular, they accuse Dantes of being a Bonapartist. As Danglars claims, “some one were to denounce him to the king’s procureur as a Bonapartist agent” (Demas 17). Danglars makes the false accusations with the aim of having Dantes sent to prison. He is motivated by hatred to see that Dantes ends up in prison. Fernand, on the other hand, is jealous of the love between Dantes and Mercedes. He resolves to have Dantes put in prison such that he may end up with Mercedes. On leaving prison, Dantes feels nothing but hatred for his enemies who led to his imprisonment. He wages revenge on them until he gets a change of heart.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Pietro. “Stealing, Revenge and the Monte Cristo Complex.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. 55, no. 2, 1974, pp. 16
De Qian, Jia. Hatred, revenge, and providence. The Chalkboard, 2015, http://rvchalkboard.weebly.com/book/hatred-revenge-and-providence-the-count-of- monte-cristo. Accessed 22 Oct. 2017.
Dumas, Alexandra. The Count of Monte Cristo. (n.d). http://msdl.cs.mcgill.ca/people/tfeng/books/The%20Count%20of%20Monte%20Cristo.p df. Accessed 22 Oct. 2017.
Novelguide. The Count of Monte Cristo, n.d., http://www.novelguide.com/the-count-of-monte- cristo/theme-analysis.html. Accessed 22 Oct. 2017.
Sennwald, Andre. A first-rate film version of “The Count of Monte cristo,” at the Rivoli – “Servant’s entrance. The New York Times, 27 Sept. 1934, http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=990DE3DD123FE53ABC4F51DFBF66838F629ED E. Accessed 22 Oct. 2017.