The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Young Max is often referred to as "Maximilian Morrel, captain of spahis." Taken literally, it means that he's a captain of a cavalry unit in the French colonial army. What it boils down to, though, is that he's a real, bona fide adventurer. He only solidifies that reputation, and gets an invitation into a much more prestigious part of society, by saving Château-Renaud.
We think it's important for you to remember this because, well, he spends a good portion of the book talking to a girl through a hole in the wall. OK, OK, we're being a little harsh. Once he manages to get over the wall and into the house – thanks, in part, to M. Noirtier – he does get to shine. Especially right when he finds out that Valentine has "died." "You are wrong," he says. "Valentine, having died as she has, needs not only a priest, but an avenger. You send for a priest, Monsieur de Villefort; I shall be her avenger" (103.26).
As it turns out, Maximilian never gets to be her avenger, as there's really nothing to avenge. This is one of the more unfortunate aspects of the Count's plan. His monopoly on the retribution business can leave others feeling helpless. Thus, Max comes off looking like a big, mopey whiner when he tells the Count, a man who has waited 24 years to get justice, "I have waited a month, which means I have suffered a month" (117.44). What can we say? He's our young Romeo – a little naïve, a little innocent. And the love of his life, Valentine, is Juliet.
Ultimately, you can't fault him: he's given – or is more like "forced to take" – one of the Count's big life lessons. "Only someone who has suffered the deepest misfortune," Monte Cristo tells him, "is capable of experiencing the heights of felicity" (117.149). Whether or not the Count is right, Maximilian ends the book happy, and you have to think he deserves what he gets.