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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo

Wise, May 3, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is a classic novel about jealousy, adventure and vengeance. The story begins with Edmond Dantes and his engagement to a beautiful young girl named Mercedes. On the eve of his marriage he is falsely imprisoned at the hands of his jealous rivals. He is thrown into Chateau d’If but manages to miraculously escape fourteen years later. Vowing to avenge himself, Edmond sets out to destroy the lives of those that imprisoned him and took away Mercedes. The objective of the novel was to give hours of entertainment for people over a hundred and sixty years ago. The novel is long and descriptive so the reader is able to fully visualize what is going on throughout the book. I greatly enjoyed the intricate plot of the novel, but found the description to be a bit excessive and long.
The Count of Monte Cristo was first published in France as a series in 1844 through 1845. At this time France was full of political dissent. There were those who supported a monarchy, people who supported an emperor such as Napoleon, and others that wanted a republic. Three revolutions occur in France in the span of a hundred years. Alexandre Dumas was France’s most famous writer at the time, even though he was on quarter black. Dumas was discriminated against because of his ancestry, but his popularity as a writer helped him become very wealthy.
The book starts when the main character Edmond Dantes is a young man of nineteen. Edmond is about to marry Mercedes and become captain of a merchant ship. There is a feeling of apprehension or foreshadowing when Mercedes is called by Edmond’s name before they are married. Mercedes says “in my country it is looked as bringing bad luck when a girl is given her sweetheart’s name before he has become her husband”. Mercedes is right to feel alarmed, her marriage to Edmond never takes place. Edmond is thrown into a jail on an island off the coast off France. He is held there for fourteen years. During this time he meets an Italian priest who was jailed for his political views. The priest tells Edmond where to find a vast fortune if he ever escapes the island. Edmond escapes the island by pretending to be a corpse. “The sea is the cemetery of the Chateau d’If” and he is able to swim to the shore after his body is thrown into the sea. Then Edmond obtains the treasure of Monte Cristo and embarks on his quest for revenge.
Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys adventure and history. The book is vastly entertaining and the reader becomes engrossed in what will happen next. Dumas is able to achieve his goal of keeping his readers entertained for many hours with his colorful descriptions and complex plot.
An important idea brought up in the book is whether or not revenge is a good objective for Edmond to have. As a reader you get the sense that vengeance is not a good thing to strive for. Edmond could have started his life over when he escaped prison and acquired a large fortune. Instead he wasted years of his life plotting for revenge against those that had long forgotten him.
The book left out discussion of an issue that was raised several times throughout the book. Lack of loyalty to one’s lover was common from Mercedes to Danglar’s wife. Mercedes was not loyal to Edmond, she married his rival only a year after his disappearance. Danglar’s wife has an affair with another man that helps ruin their fortune.
There are some parts of the book that are quite far fetched and not very convincing. Several plot developments are too bizarre to be considered realistic. One example is how Edmond is able to befriend the son of one of his enemies at a fair in Rome. Another example is that Edmond is able to control the fiercest bandit in all of Italy because he helped the bandit when he was young.
Dumas uses language to paint a vivid picture in the mind’s of the reader. He uses very detailed description to set up the plot and convey the character’s personalities. The impact of this detail is that it draws the reader into the novel and makes the adventure come to life. The plot is so intricate that the reader has to read very closely or they will be in danger of missing important information. Dumas’s control of these elements creates an involved story that keeps the reader amused for hours.
The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic story of adventure and revenge. Dumas bring to life the charters and the plot of the story with his elaborate detail. The book is extremely engrossing but the detail can become a little over done. It is an excellent read for anyone who enjoys adventure and history. The novel leaves the reader pondering whether or not Edmond’s revenge was really worth all that he put into it. Sometimes it is better to forgive and forget.
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