The Count of Monte Cristo
How we cite our quotes:
"You see," said the count. "You do want to kill yourself: here it is in black and white!"
"Very well," Morrel exclaimed, instantaneously switching from an appearance of calm to one of extreme violence. "Very well, suppose that is so, suppose I have decided to turn the barrel of this pistol against myself, who will stop me? Who will have the courage to stop me? Suppose I should say: all my hopes are dashed, my heart is broken, my life is extinguished, there is nothing about me except mourning and horror, the earth has turned to ashes and every human voice is tearing me apart…Suppose I should say: it is only humane to let me die because, if you do not, I shall lose my reason, I shall become mad…Tell me, Monsieur, if I should say that, and when it is seen that it is voiced with the anguish and the tears of my heart, will anyone answer me: "You are wrong?" Will anyone prevent me from being the most unhappy of creatures? Tell me, Count, would you have the courage to do so?" (105. 73-74)
The short answer to Morrel's final question is "Yes," and the Count tells him so. No predicament is insurmountable and no battle unwinnable.
"I think ill of the past," he said, "and cannot have been mistaken in that way. What! Could the goal that I set myself have been wrong? What, have I been on the wrong road for the past ten years? What, can it be that in a single hour the architect can become convinced that the work into which he has put all his hopes was, if not impossible, sacrilegious?
"I cannot accept that idea, because it would drive me mad." (113.5-6)
If you've ever spent a long time working on anything you know the feeling: that gnawing fear that maybe, somewhere you got off track, that you didn't follow directions and are now doing exactly what you were trying to avoid.
"I have waited a month, which means I have suffered a month. I hoped—man is such a poor and miserable creature—I hoped, for what? I don't know: something unimaginable, absurd, senseless, a miracle…but what? God alone knows, for it was He who diluted our reason with that madness called hope. Yes, I waited; yes, Count, I hoped; and in the past quarter of an hour, while we have been speaking, you have unwittingly broken and tortured my heart a hundred times, for each of your words proved to me that I have no hope left." (117.44)
By the time we hear Maximilian say this, we can't really feel for him, not knowing that the Count has suffered for much longer. Soon, though, young Max will learn the importance of hope.