The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo Theme of Transformation
In The Count of Monte Cristo, the transformed becomes the transformer. Edmond, irrevocably changed during his time in prison by forces outside of his control, learns to transform the world around him. Everything from his clothing to his personality to his name is changeable. Some of his transformations are comic – witness his ability to shift from one "character" to another effortlessly – while others are deadly serious. Oftentimes all it takes is a superficial adjustment, but when the situation calls for something more, the Count can rise to the occasion.
Questions About Transformation
- Given his incredible ability to change his or anyone else's circumstances – look at how he saves the Morrels and turns Benedetto into Prince Andrea Cavalcanti – isn't it almost criminal for Monte Cristo to use his abilities in the way he does?
- Do the Count's physical and superficial transformations reflect his internal, moral ones?
- Given how quickly and easily Edmond/Monte Cristo can change his identity, can we, as readers, really get a good handle on the character by the end of the book?
Chew on This
By the end of The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond has spent so much time being other people that he is forced to stop and consider his true identity.
Only by losing himself in other identities can Edmond deal with the pain of his time in prison; having been transformed against his will, he must take control of his image in order to find himself.