The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Rebirth's a big deal in The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond Dantès becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, Danglars the supercargo becomes Danglars the ultra-rich banker, etc. Benedetto is unique, though, because he gets two shots at rebirth, two chances to make good and, well, let's just say he could probably use another. Benedetto is the illegitimate child of Gérard de Villefort and Madame Danglars, left for dead and buried in a shallow grave. Only thanks to the quick-thinking of Bertuccio does Benedetto survive; thanks to the intervention of Bertuccio's wife, he ends up living in his savior's home under the name Benedetto. When he blows that chance, and ends up rowing away his crimes on a galley ship, Monte Cristo springs him from jail, gives him a new name (Andrea Cavalcanti), a new title, and a generous income.
Now, you'd think that kind of experience would make someone cherish his life, right? Wrong. Benedetto is definitely a bad apple, there's no disputing that. He steals and he cheats, and, as he tells Eugénie Danglars, he cares nothing for honor. But all that's really beside the point. The real question is: Why is he such a bad apple? At first, Benedetto blames God for his misfortunes, but his adoptive father, Bertuccio, raises an interesting point:
"Don't blaspheme, you wretch. God was generous in giving you life. The evil comes not from you but from your father—the father who doomed you to hell should die, and to misery if some miracle should give you life!" (110.57)
Is Bertuccio right? Are the sins of the fathers visited upon their sons? There's no easier answer to that question.