The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo Theme of Revenge
Revenge is everywhere in The Count of Monte Cristo. No matter what the situation, no matter who is speaking, it lurks in the corners, propelling the story forward. We wait on tenterhooks, wondering when we're going to see the Count get his retribution, and how he's going to get it. That tension, playing out in our minds and in the words and thoughts of the characters, is essential. At book's end, we have to ask ourselves, as Edmond asks himself, if we're satisfied with the way things turn out. Was the revenge worthwhile? Was it really justified? Was it all Edmond hoped it would be?
Questions About Revenge
- Here's a big question: Is Edmond justified in seeking his revenge?
- And another: Is he really successful when he finds it? Are his ten years of planning well spent?
- Edmond/The Count's views on revenge seem to be distinctly old school: he talks about taking an eye for an eye, and insists that the sins of fathers will be passed down to their sons – and beyond. Beauchamp, on the other hand, argues that such thinking is wrong – especially in the tumultuous times they've lived through. Is one of them right and the other wrong? They can't both be right, right?
Chew on This
Edmond's revenge is only successful when he realizes he must forgive. Only then does he rise above the level of the men who wronged him in the first place.
Though Edmond manages to escape from prison after fourteen years, he may as well have remained there for an extra ten years. His thirst for revenge is just as confining – mentally and morally speaking – as his jail cell ever was. Revenge keeps him from beginning anew.