Full spoilers for the entire book below. Proceed with caution.
For other book reviews, click HERE:
Title: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Publication Date: 1844 (novel), 2010 (audio)
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Narrated By: Bill Homewood
Recording time: 52 hrs and 41 mins
Marseille and Chateau d’If
On the day in 1815 when Napoleon escapes the Island of Elba, Edmond Dantès brings the ship Pharaon into dock at Marseille. His captain, Leclère, had died during the passage; the ship’s owner, Morrel, will make Dantès the next captain. On his deathbed, Leclère charged Dantès to deliver a package to General Bertrand (exiled with Napoleon), and a letter from Elba to an unknown man in Paris.
Dantès’ colleague Danglars is jealous of Dantès’ rapid promotion and, as the two men are at odds, fearful for his own employment should Dantès ascend. On the eve of Dantès’ wedding to his Catalan fiancée Mercédès, Danglars meets at a cabaret with Fernand Mondego, Mercédès’ cousin and a rival for her affections, and the two hatch a plot to anonymously denounce Dantès, falsely accusing him of being a Bonapartist traitor. Danglars and Mondego set a trap for Dantès. Dantès’ neighbour, Caderousse, is present at the meeting; he too is jealous of Dantès, although he objects to the plot, but becomes too intoxicated with wine to prevent it.
The following day at the wedding breakfast, Dantès is arrested, and the cowardly Caderousse stays silent, fearing being also accused of Bonapartism. Villefort, the deputy crown prosecutor in Marseille, destroys the letter from Elba when he discovers that it is addressed to his own father, Noirtier, a Bonapartist, knowing it would destroy his own political career. To silence Dantès, he condemns him without trial to life imprisonment and resists all appeals by Morrel to release him, during the Hundred Days and once the king Louis XVIII is restored to rule France.
Château d’If (Marseille)
After six years of solitary imprisonment in the Château d’If, Dantès is on the verge of suicide when he meets the Abbé Faria (“The Mad Priest”), a middle-aged Italian prisoner who had dug an escape tunnel that exited in Dantès’ cell. Faria reveals he is a priest and scholar with excellent memory, creativity and impressive knowledge. Faria had been unfairly imprisoned back in 1807 after participating in political upheavals concerning the unification of Italy and then taken to the Château d’If in 1811. Faria says “(…) I dreamed of the very plan Napoleon tried to realise in 1811”. At the time, Napoleon planned to set up a kingdom covering the whole Italian peninsula, notwithstanding, of course, opposition from the neighbouring kingdoms. The so-called Risorgimento Italiano did not begin in earnest until at least 1848, and reached fulfillment until 1871.
Over the next eight years, Faria educates Dantès in languages, history, culture, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and science. Knowing himself to be close to death from catalepsy, Faria tells Dantès the location of a treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo, an inheritance from his work for the last of the Spada family, which, according to Faria himself, is estimated to be worth “Two Millions of Roman crowns [actually, écus, but it might as well refer to either soldi or denarii]; nearly thirteen millions of our money (francs)”. During the course of his imprisonment, Faria tells the story of the treasure: Sometime in the late 1490s, Cardinal Cesare Spada was created a Cardinal after bribing the papal authorities. Pope Alexander VI had offered several nobleman such positions in the Roman Curia as part of a plan to systematically confiscate the corrupt cardinals wealth after killing them, through poisoning, often carried out during official dinners. After suspecting such intentions, the Cardinal Spada ordered his family fortune to be hidden in the Island of Monte Cristo in order to prevent it from being seized by the Pope and his son Cesare Borgia. Before being killed, he informed in a letter to his nephew and only heir that the total of his fortune was hidden there and belonged to him through an invisible ink letter. However, Cardinal Spada’s attempt failed, as neither Spada’s nephew nor his descendants were able to decipher the note. When the Cardinal and his nephew attend a lunch presided over by the Pope, both die after drinking poisoned wine, leaving the treasure abandoned.
Faria, who solved the mystery shortly after the death of the last living descendant of the Spada family, was on his way to retrieve the treasure but was captured by the Italian authorities, leaving him the only person who knew the secret.
On 28 February 1829, exactly 14 years after Edmond’s imprisonment, Faria succumbs to catalepsy after his third attack. He became partly paralysed during the second, in which Dantés revived him by supplying him with a liquor. Taking advantage of the distraction of the jailers, Dantès, after failing to revive Faria, decides to take his body to his jail and takes his place in the burial sack, armed with a knife that Faria made. When he is thrown into the sea, Dantès cuts through the sack and swims to a nearby island, the Island of Tiboulen, where he is rescued by a Genoese smuggling ship that passes Monte Cristo called Jeune-Amélie (Young Amelia), whose crew allow Dantès to join them. After a few months (April–May 1829), during which time Dantès transforms his appearance and gets stable work aboard ship, he decides to seek out the treasure. Seizing an opportunity, Dantès and the crew disembark, with the excuse of hunting goats (“kids”). To stay on the island (to find his hidden treasure), Dantès simulates an accident and pretends he has broken some of his ribs. Six days later, the ship returns and he boards, carrying a few carefully hidden diamonds with him.
In port, Dantès sells some of the diamonds in order to purchase a yacht, sails to Monte Cristo for the rest of the treasure, and returns to Marseille in search of information which may lead to his vengeance. He later purchases the Island of Monte Cristo and the title of Count from the Tuscan government.
Travelling as the Abbé Busoni, Dantès meets Caderousse, now married and living in poverty, who regrets not intervening in Dantès’ arrest. Caderousse informs Dantès that Mercédès had resigned herself, after eighteen months of vain expectations concerning Dantès’ return from prison, to marrying Fernand, with whom she has a son, Albert.
Caderousse names Danglars and Mondego as the men who betrayed him, and also that his father has died of self-inflicted starvation. After Dantès’ disappearance, both Danglars and Mondego had become successful beyond expectation; Danglars, after having been appointed as a cashier in a Spanish Bank—for which Mr. Morrel had recommended him—enters into the world of speculation, amassing a multi-million franc fortune and marrying Mr. de Salvieux’s daughter, Madame de Norgonne, a wealthy widow.
Mondego pursues a successful military career, especially after the restoration period, serving in the Battle of Ligny. After his service in the French Army, he eventually gains the favour of the restored Bourbon monarchy and ascends with rapidity in the Armée, becoming captain in 1823. He then travels to several campaigns both in Spain and in Greece, ascending to colonel and then lieutenant-colonel in 1829. Mondego and his wife finally remain in Spain due to his duties.
After relating the story, Dantès rewards Caderousse a diamond worth—allegedly—50,000 francs that can be either a chance to redeem himself or a trap that will lead to his ruin.
Learning that his old employer Morrel faces bankruptcy, Dantès, posing as a clerk of Thomson and French, buys Morrel’s debts and gives Morrel three months to fulfil his obligations. At the end of the three months and with no way to repay his debts, Morrel is about to commit suicide when he learns that his debts have been mysteriously paid and that one of his lost ships has returned with a full cargo, secretly rebuilt and laden by Dantès.
After travelling in the East to continue his education (and to plot his revenge), Dantès reappears nine years later, in 1838, as the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo, a title he has purchased. His three targets are Mondego (now Count de Morcerf and husband of Mercédès); Danglars (now a baron and a banker); and Villefort (now procureur du roi, or prosecutor for the king).
In Rome, at Carnival time, Dantès arranges for Viscount Albert de Morcerf, the son of Mercédès and Mondego, to be captured by the bandit Luigi Vampa. Dantès “rescues” the boy, who shows his gratitude by agreeing to introduce the Count into Parisian society. In Paris, Dantès dazzles Danglars with his wealth, persuading him to extend him a credit of six million francs. By manipulating the bond market, Dantès then quickly destroys a large portion of Danglars’ fortune. The rest of it rapidly disappears through mysterious bankruptcies, suspensions of payment, and more bad luck in the Stock Exchange.
On 21 May 1838, during Dantès’ first visit to Paris after a long while (though his alter-ego feigns he has never been there), he decides to stay at Albert’s residence (next to his parents, the count and countess of Moncerf). He meets Mercédès for the first time in 23 years, without her knowing his real identity. After spending the time in the Moncerfs’ residence, Dantès meets up with a notary in the Champs Elysées to settle up the purchase of a private home located in Auteuil. Having paid the sum of 55,000 francs and after receiving the deed of the property and the keys, they both proceed to the residence. Upon arriving, after having become acquainted with the concierge and then exploring the house, Dantès’ servant, a Corsican called Bertuccio, becomes nervous and uncomfortable. Dantès inquires after the reason for his uneasiness, threatening him unless he explains.
Bertuccio reveals he had an older brother who had raised him since they became orphans. Shortly after Bertuccio’s brother married, he was ambushed and killed (possibly by radical royalists for being a Bonapartist) in 1815, shortly after Bonaparte‘s fall after the Hundred Days), in Nîmes, where Villefort ruled. His brother’s death left him and his brother’s widow, Assunta, without a living, which forces Bertuccio to take up smuggling. In July 1815 Bertuccio encounters Villefort, demanding he intervene and prosecute the killers, but he refuses to do so, stating that “Well, he was smitten with the sword, and he perished by the sword (…) It is a misfortune, and the government owes nothing to your family”. Feeling cheated and deceived, Bertuccio warns Villefort “(…) protect yourself as well as you can, for the next time we meet your last hour has come”. Concerned about his safety, Villefort asks to be transferred, eventually ending up in Versailles.
Bertuccio spends three months tracking Villefort to Auteuil, eventually finding him in late September 1815, the day when Madame Danglars, then a widow, delivered their illegitimate child in the house that the Count has now purchased from the father-in-law of Villefort, the Marquis de Saint-Meran. To cover up the affair, Villefort told Madame Danglars that the infant was stillborn, smothered the child and attempted to bury him in a box with a piece of linen cloth—which revealed his noble precedence—(inscribed with the letters “H” and “N”, later revealed as indicating Hermine of Norgonne) in the garden. During the secret burial, Bertuccio stabs Villefort in the breast, which leaves him on the verge of death. Bertuccio unearths the child and resuscitates him after escaping from the residence. Unable to keep the child, given his current financial situation, he decides to leave the child at an asylum located in Paris. During the succeeding months, increased smuggling trade improves both Bertuccio and Assunta’s fortunes.
Villefort later reveals that, after having been left in an agonizing state, he managed to creep back to the main house and reached the ladder where Madame Danglars—who had just gone through childbirth—found and rescued him. After being assisted by the delivery nurse—to whom Villefort and Danglars lied, attributing the wound to a duel—Villefort travelled to Versailles to recover from his wound. After three months of recovery, Villefort is ordered to the South to take upon his affairs, and, after travelling through the Central Paris, Chalons, the Rhone, Arles and Marseilles, at the end of six months (c. March–April 1816), Villefort heals definitely. Sometime later (on Villefort’s account, November 1816), Villefort goes back to the Auteuil house in search of the corpse, for he was haunted by the feeling that the baby—as he was unable to find the box—may have survived and, if so, then Bertuccio (whom he doesn’t know anything about, except for the fact that he was a Corsican) had kidnapped the baby after stabbing him.
Villefort tracked the baby to the same asylum where Bertuccio left him, but when arriving he was told that a woman (Assunta) in possession of half of the linen cloth had taken the baby away. According to Villefort, his agents lost track of her shortly after she left Chalons. Despite spending more than twenty years on that quest, by the time Villefort confessed the truth to Madame Danglars, his search had proven—at least, until then—completely unfruitful.
After the assassination attempt of Villefort, Bertuccio and Assunta travel back to Rogliano, Corsica, where Bertuccio returns to smuggling. Assunta tracks down the baby’s location following the address stated in the linen cloth Bertuccio retrieved from the burial box and takes him home (he gave half of the cloth to Assunta). Assunta then decides to bring up the child, giving him the name “Benedetto” (meaning blessed in Italian).
Benedetto, however, begins to engage in criminal activities from an early age, partly caused by Assunta’s tolerant treatment of him, and takes up a life of crime by age 11. One day, after being refused money by Assunta, Benedetto and two comrades torture Assunta by exposing her feet close to the brazier, which causes her to burst into flames. Despite screaming in agony and trying to escape, she dies from her wounds.
At the same time, on 3 June 1829, during a journey to the Gulf of Lyon for business affairs, Bertuccio’s ship is surrounded—due to increased surveillance—and he is forced to escape by swimming through the Rhône, finally reaching Beaucaire. There, on the road from Beaucaire to Bellegarde, he decides to make a stop at Caderousse’s lodging to shelter. However, seeing that he had visitors inside, prefers to hide outside of the house, crossing the fence and hiding in a shed parallel to the inn.
Inside, Bertuccio sees Caderousse negotiating and discussing with a Parisian jeweller, M. Joannes, for the sale of the diamond bestowed by Dantès during his visit as the Abbé Busoni. The jeweller offers Caderousse a sum of 40, and then 45,000 francs for the diamond, but Carderouse demands to be paid the sum estimated by the Abbé (50,000 francs), which the jeweller rejects, not only telling him that he will not buy it for that price, but also threatening to report him to the authorities if he refuses to sell it to him at the price he requested, for the story of its acquisition sounds highly unlikely. Finally, Carderousse accepts the offer and receives 15,000 in gold and the remaining 30,000 in banknotes.
When the jeweller is about to depart, Caderousse and his wife ask him to remain with the promise of supper and lodging for the night, an offer that the jeweller is finally forced to accept after a storm prevents him from returning to his home. After the Caderousses, Joannes and Bertuccio go to sleep, Caderousse, fueled by the impulse of greed, kills his wife and M. Joannes, then flees in the middle of the night with both the diamond and the 45,000 francs.
Bertuccio enters the house to view the crime scene but is discovered by the port authorities, who arrest him for the murders. After three months in jail, Bertuccio reveals the truth to the Abbé Busoni, who confirms his story. Shortly before 8 September, the day of his trial, Caderousse is captured in a neighbouring country and repatriated to France, where he confesses, which leads to Bertuccio’s release from jail. Since his older brother and sister-in-law are now dead, Bertuccio has no family in Corsica, so he takes Abbé Busoni’s advice to work for the Count.
Benedetto is sentenced to the galleys with Caderousse. After Benedetto and Caderousse are freed by Dantès, using the alias “Lord Wilmore,” the Count induces Benedetto to take the identity of “Viscount Andrea Cavalcanti” and introduces him into Parisian society. Andrea ingratiates himself to Danglars, who betroths his daughter Eugénie to Andrea, not knowing they are half-siblings, after cancelling her engagement to Albert. Meanwhile, Caderousse blackmails Andrea, threatening to reveal his past if he does not share his newfound wealth. Cornered by “Abbé Busoni” while attempting to rob the Count’s house, Caderousse begs to be given another chance. Dantès forces him to write a letter to Danglars exposing Cavalcanti as an impostor and allowing Caderousse to leave the house. The moment Caderousse leaves the estate, he is stabbed by Andrea. Caderousse dictates a deathbed statement identifying his killer, and the Count reveals his true identity to Caderousse moments before he dies.
Wanting information on how Albert’s father made his fortune in Greece years earlier, Danglars researches the events, and the information is published in a French newspaper while Albert and the Count are in Normandy. Albert’s friend Beauchamps sends the news article to Albert, who returns to Paris. His father has been tried in a court of the French aristocrats and is found guilty based on the testimony of Haydée, who reads the newspapers.
On an occasion at the Count’s house, Albert meets Haydeé, who tells him the story of how she became a slave. After escaping from their palace, Ali Pasha of Janina, his wife, Vasiliki, his daughter, Haydeé, their servant Selim, and a troop of 20 soldiers escort Pasha’s family to a fortress. His servants take the whole of Pasha’s fortune stacked in 60,000 pouches—allegedly worth 25,000,000 francs in gold—and 200 barrels containing 30,000 pounds of powder to be set ready so, in case of not being pardoned by Sultan Mahmud II, they would, according to Pasha’s own wishes, kill themselves in a murder-suicide.
After hiding for some time, four boats reach Pasha’s refuge. Pasha, who is cheated by Fernand, is received among cries of joy. Selim, who guarded the Pasha’s fortune and his wife and daughter, is also deceived and persuaded to turn off the flame in his torch. After obeying this, Selim is seized and stabbed to death by four French soldiers. Ali, who resists being killed, exchanging gunfire with the Frenchmen, but is captured and murdered. After Ali’s death, Fernand sold Ali’s wife Vasiliki and his 4-year-old daughter Haydée into slavery, thus earning his fortune. While Vasiliki died thereafter, Dantès purchased Haydée seven years later when she was 13 years old.
After going to a trial, Fernand has a defence against the newspaper’s story but no defence against Haydée’s testimony. He rides away from the court in his disgrace. Albert blames the Count for his father’s downfall, as Danglars says that the Count encouraged him to do the research on the father of the man engaged to his daughter. Albert challenges him to a duel. Mercédès, having already recognized Monte Cristo as Dantès, goes to the Count, now back in Paris, and begs him to spare her son. During this interview, she learns the truth of the arrest and imprisonment of Dantès but still convinces the Count not to kill her son. Realizing that Edmond Dantès now intends to let Albert kill him, she reveals the truth to Albert, which causes Albert to make a public apology to the Count.
Albert and Mercédès disown Fernand and leave his house. Fernand then confronts the Count of Monte Cristo, who reveals his identity as Edmond Dantès; returning home in time to see his wife and son leave, Fernand shoots himself. Albert and Mercédès renounce their titles and wealth and depart to begin new lives, starting in Marseille, at the house where Dantès and his father once lived. Dantès told them of the 3,000 francs he had buried there, to start life once he married, before all his misfortunes. Albert enlists as a soldier.
Valentine, Villefort’s daughter by his first wife, stands to inherit the fortune of her grandfather Noirtier and of her mother’s parents, the Saint-Mérans, while Villefort’s second wife Héloïse seeks the fortune for her son Édouard. The Count is aware of Héloïse’s intentions and introduces her to the techniques of poison. Héloïse fatally poisons the Saint-Mérans, so that Valentine inherits their fortune. Valentine is briefly disinherited by Noirtier in an attempt to prevent Valentine’s impending marriage with Franz d’Épinay, whom she does not love; however, the marriage is cancelled when d’Épinay learns from Noirtier that his father, who he believed was assassinated by Bonapartists, was killed by Noirtier in a duel.
After a failed attempt on Noirtier’s life, which leaves Noirtier’s servant Barrois dead, Héloïse targets Valentine so that Édouard, his other grandchild, will get the fortune. However, Valentine is the prime suspect in her father’s eyes in the deaths of the Saint-Mérans and Barrois. On learning that Morrel’s son Maximilien is in love with Valentine, the Count saves her by making it appear as though Héloïse’s plan to poison Valentine has succeeded and that Valentine is dead. Villefort learns from Noirtier that Héloïse is the real murderer and confronts her, giving her the choice of public execution or committing suicide.
Fleeing after Caderousse’s letter exposes him and frees Danglars’ daughter from any marriage, Andrea is arrested and returned to Paris. Eugènie Danglars flees as well with her girlfriend. Villefort prosecutes Andrea. Bertuccio visits Andrea who is in prison awaiting trial, to tell him the truth about his father. At his trial, Andrea reveals that he is Villefort’s son and was rescued after Villefort buried him alive. Villefort admits his guilt and flees the court. He rushes home to stop his wife’s suicide but is too late; she is dead and has poisoned her son as well. The Count confronts Villefort, revealing his true identity as Dantès, which drives Villefort insane. Dantès tries but fails to resuscitate Édouard, causing him to question if he has gone too far.
Parallelly, the Count begins to manipulate the bond market. In Orléans, he visits a telegraph tower, in whose entrance he finds a 55-year-old man, who is fond of horticulture. After a brief acquaintance, the man, a public employee with a low-paying job. Up in the tower, the Count persuades him to allow him to manipulate the message, by bribing the telegrapher with 25,000 francs. The telegram sent to the Ministry of Interior states that the pretender to the throne King of Spain exiled at Bourges in 1830, Infante Carlos María Isidro of Spain, had returned to Barcelona acclaimed by popular opinion. This implied political instability, which would in turn impact negatively on the demand of Spanish bonds in which Danglars—according to his wife—had invested six million francs. However, after the news of the pretender’s return was proved false, Danglars ends up losing 700,000 francs, and then, another 8–900,000 after a man called Jacopo Manfredi—secretly a Count’s acquittance—mysteriously goes bankrupt—for Danglars always considered him creditworthy and “(…) he paid like a prince”—and fails to answer to his obligations.
Eventually, through further manipulation of the bond market, Danglars is left with a destroyed reputation and 5,000,000 francs he has been holding in deposit for hospitals. The Count demands this sum to fulfill their credit agreement, and Danglars embezzles the hospital fund. He abandoned his wife, whom he blames for his losses in stock investments. She is also abandoned by her partner in investing, whom she hoped to marry. Danglars flees to Italy with the Count’s receipt for the cash he requested from the banker Danglars, and 50,000 francs. While leaving Rome, he is kidnapped by the Count’s agent Luigi Vampa, a bandit, and is imprisoned. Forced to pay exorbitant prices for food—100,000 francs for a fowl and 25,000 for a bottle of water, for instance—and nearly starved to death, Danglars signs away his ill-gotten gains to survive. Dantès anonymously returns the money to the hospitals, as Danglars had given their cash to the Count. Danglars finally repents his crimes, and a softened Dantès forgives him and allows him to leave with his freedom and 50,000 francs.
Resolution and return to the Orient
Maximilien Morrel, believing Valentine to be dead, contemplates suicide after her funeral. Dantès reveals his true identity and explains that he rescued Morrel’s father from bankruptcy years earlier; he then tells Maximilien to reconsider his suicide, and Maximilien is saved.
On the Island of Monte Cristo, Dantès presents Valentine to Maximilien and reveals the true sequence of events. Having found peace in reviewing his vengeance and deciding he cannot play God, Dantès leaves the newly reunited couple part of his fortune on the island and departs for the East to find comfort and begin a new life with Haydée, who has declared her love for him. The reader is left with a final thought: “l’humaine sagesse était tout entière dans ces deux mots: attendre et espérer!” (“all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope'”).
The Count of Monte Cristo is brilliant, complex, moving, and rewarding. I highly recommend it.
I listened to a 52 hour audio recording performed by Bill Homewood, an English television and stage actor, singer, and poet. Homewood’s performance is enjoyable, providing excellent French, Italian, and English accents, among the myriad of characters across this wide-ranging European story. If actually reading the text of this novel feels daunting, I strongly advocate for undertaking the challegen of this novel in this audio format.
The power of this story lies in the journey of support, then self-doubt and self-reflection, it forces upon the reader. As Edmond Dantès delivers vengeance upon those who have done him wrong, and as he rewards those who treated him fairly, the reader reflects upon his actions, whether they are fair, whether Dantès is justified in being the arbiter of judgments in the first place. Dantès himself wrestles with these questions and ultimately ends in accepting his own actions, but he does not do so easily or comfortably. If God has used him as an instrument of justice, then Dantès must draw a clear distinction between himself, as an instrument, and God, as the user of said instrument. Dantès – during his period of revenge – toes the line of viewing himself as more than human, and perhaps as God himself, but is humbled deeply and forced into self-doubt by the plea of Mercédès, to spare her son Albert, the subsequent effort by Mercédès to then spare the Count’s life at Albert’s hands, the death of Édouard, and the near death of Valentine.
In addition to a thorough exploration of the themes of justice and providence, the book spends a lot of time exploring happiness. One consistent character trait throughout the novel of a good character is their happiness and contentedness within their own circumstances. Most of the villainy in the novel stems from decisions made out of lack of contentment. Danglars and Fernand Mondego betray Dantès from jealousy. Both men continue to climb socially and financially – until meeting their fate – but acting in this manner. Villefort betrays Dantès out of ambition. He knows that he wrongly condemns him to life in prison, but he does so from an ambition to further his own career. Caderousse destroys himself because he cannot be content. In fact, his jealously and greed lead him to murder, and ultimately, to be murdered. Had hd simply decided to be happy with the relative fortune bestowed upon him by the Count, in the form of the jewel, his entire story ends differently and more happily.
Less obviously, the father of Edmund Dantès fails to act wisely, by waiting and hoping, and instead decides to kill himself by starvation. Had he waited, he might have lived to see his son again, and lived in splendor with him. Mercédès fails also by waiting only eighteen months before marrying Fernand – who she did not love. When she recognizes The Count’s true identity, her lack of contentment in her current life leads to a silence, which in turn leads to the death of her husband and many others.
In contrast, Haydée is an example of waiting and hoping. She waits contently as The Count’s slave, happy with how well and how lovingly she is cared for. When presented with all of the Count’s money, her freedom, and restored titles, she chooses contentment and love of her present circumstances. Similarly, we see this same virtue in Valentine. She chooses to wait and to hope, in pursuit of her love for Morrel, and she again chooses to wait and to hope in the Count for Morrel to be restored to her. Thes two are rewarded.
The Count of Monte Cristo is masterfully well-crafted literature and some of my favorite lines are as follows:
“The difference between treason and patriotism is only a matter of dates.”
“What would you not have accomplished if you had been free?”
“Possibly nothing at all; the overflow of my brain would probably, in a state of freedom, have evaporated in a thousand follies; misfortune is needed to bring to light the treasures of the human intellect. Compression is needed to explode gunpowder. Captivity has brought my mental faculties to a focus; and you are well aware that from the collision of clouds electricity is produced — from electricity, lightning, from lightning, illumination.”
“Learning does not make one learned: there are those who have knowledge and those who have understanding. The first requires memory and the second philosophy.”
“How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.”
“For all evils there are two remedies – time and silence.”
“Moral wounds have this peculiarity – they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart.”
“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”
“When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.”
“The friends we have lost do not repose under the ground…they are buried deep in our hearts. It has been thus ordained that they may always accompany us.”
“I don’t think man was meant to attain happiness so easily. Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.”
“Often we pass beside happiness without seeing it, without looking at it, or even if we have seen and looked at it, without recognizing it.”
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you.”
“It’s necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.”
“Hatred is blind; rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope”
This novel is excellent, challenging, and thoroughly enjoyable. Dumas’ novel manages to combine a fantastical and compelling tale with a deep exploration of human nature and moral philosophy. I highly recommend it.