Manipulation is a bit of dirty word. Nobody wants to feel like they've been manipulated by anyone – not by Fate, by God, or by their parents. In The Count of Monte Cristo Edmond must feel this bad kind of "manipulated" when he realizes why he's in prison; the same goes for the disgraced Fernand, Danglars, and Villefort after Edmond is through with them. But there is a positive side to manipulation, too. The kind of manipulation the Count practices requires a tremendous amount of creativity and cleverness. Yes, it helps to have unlimited resources on your side, but the Count's masterful manipulations also require a huge amount of knowledge.
Putting aside any questions of morality, Edmond's endeavor is first and foremost a testament to human creativity.
Rather than give us a fiery Romantic hero, Dumas portrays Monte Cristo as a logical, reasonable man; though he may be driven by passion, in practice his passion is transformed into well-measured action.