Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is a story of luck, adventure and triumph.  He is a near perfect young man who is the captain of a ship and a successful trader. He is soon to be married to a beautiful young girl Mercedes whom he offers all the worlds love.  The jealousy of three of Dante’s friends leads to a plot against him. The ship’s treasurer Danglars is jealous of Dante’s young success, Fernand Mondego wants his fiancé, and his neighbor Caderousse is enraged by Dante’s luck. Each sucked in by their own weakness.

The three plot to arrest him for treason for carrying a message to Napoleon Bonaparte sympathizers as a promise to the deceased previous captain.  At that time in history, Napoleon sympathizers in Paris were enemies of the state. Even though Dante had no political leanings he was still arrested for his alleged crimes on his wedding day and thrown into prison. He was not guilty of anything but fulfilling a promise.

The deputy public prosecutor Villefort understood that Dante was set up through his friends and planned on setting him free. Villefort also sees the innocence of Dante and takes pity on him. Through Dante’s honesty, he mentions the man whom the letter was to be delivered. It  ends up being Villenfort’s father. Instead of setting him free, the deputy prosecutor changes his mind and sends him to jail for the rest of his life for fear that such information would be revealed. 

While in prison, he meets a priest by the name of Abbé Faria who was imprisoned for his political beliefs. Faria teaches Dante about life, philosophy, history, science and all the wonders of the world. More importantly, he tells Dante where he stashed some treasure. During the preparation for escape, Faria dies and Dante makes a dashing exit and finds the gold on the Island of Monte Cristo. 

With his newfound gold and success, he attempts to reclaim his honor. He realizes that Caderousse is poor while Fernand and Danglers are rich. He rewards Carderousse for information with a diamond and saves his old boss, who tried to help him, from financial ruin. Putting on a disguise, he dons himself the Count of Monte Cristo and travels to Paris where he saves the son of Fernand and Mercedes from bandits. This offered him the opportunity to enter high society.

No one in the Parisian society recognized the old Dante as they now knew him as the Count of Monte Cristo. He put in play a series of revenges that used his enemy’s weaknesses against them. One went insane, one penniless and the other committed suicide. Yet Dante’s is not a cruel man and decides to help those who helped him in the past. He also tried to help the son of the ship owner who attempted to set him free. 

The story is intriguing in that it carries within it all of the various human needs, emotions and follies. As human beings, we can be jealous, petty, argumentative, and even brutal. Yet situations do not stay the same forever. There are times when things change and those who persecuted us allow us to rise on new fortunes.  If there is a lesson in the book, it is not to be cruel, act wisely, and be patient for life works on its own accord. Above all…have good intentions.

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