Study Guide

The Count of Monte Cristo Revenge

By Alexandre Dumas

Revenge

Chapter 12

"Have I ever told you, when you have done your job as a Royalist and had the head cut off one of our people: 'My son, you have committed murder'? No, I have said: 'Very well, Monsieur, you have fought and won, but tomorrow we shall have our revenge.'"

"Father, beware, our revenge will be terrible when we take it." (12.39-40)

As we see here, larger political rivalries can play out on a much smaller scale. Revenge isn't simply personal: it can split families, and even countries in two.

Chapter 15

He decided it was human hatred and not divine vengeance that had plunged him into this abyss. He doomed these unknown men to every torment that his inflamed imagination could devise, while still considering that the most frightful were too mild and, above all, too brief for them: torture was followed by death, and death brought, if not repose, at least an insensibility that resembled it. (15.8)

When it comes to revenge, the most expedient method is not necessarily the most satisfying.

Chapter 17
Abbé Faria

[Abbé Faria:] "I regret having helped you in your investigation and said what I did to you," he remarked.

"Why is that?" Dantès asked.

"Because I have insinuated a feeling into your heart that was not previously there: the desire for revenge." (17.193-195)

Though knowledge is usually thought to lead to understanding, sometimes it has darker consequences. Do you think the abbé is responsible for what Edmond becomes? Would Edmond have gone to such lengths to seek revenge if he had never met Abbé Faria?

Chapter 35
Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Cristo

"Make no mistake: I should fight a duel for a trifle, an insult, a contradiction, a slap—and all the more merrily for knowing that, thanks to the skill I have acquired in all physical exercises and long experience of danger, I should be more or less certain of killing my opponent. Oh, yes, indeed, I should fight a duel for any of these things; but in return for a slow, deep, infinite, eternal pain, I should return as nearly as possible a pain equivalent to the one inflicted on me. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, as they say in the East, those men who are the elect of creation, and who have learnt to make a life of dreams and paradise a reality." (35.42)

The Count's notions regarding revenge seem to be taken solely from the Old Testament. He doesn't acknowledge Jesus' commandment to "turn the other cheek."

Chapter 83
Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Cristo

"Oh, God," said Monte Cristo, "your vengeance may sometimes be slow in coming, but I think that then it is all the more complete." (83.7)

As the saying goes, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Here, Monte Cristo seems to agree with the conventional wisdom.

Chapter 84
Beauchamp

"I hastened round to see you," Beauchamp continued, "to say this to you: Albert, the sins of our fathers, in these times of action and reaction, cannot be visited on their children. Albert, few men have gone through the revolutions in which we were born, without some spot of mire or of blood staining their soldier's uniform or their judge's robe." (84.54)

Beauchamp suggests that the turbulent nature of recent history is something of a mitigating factor; when all men have been corrupted, he seems to think, no one man should be singled out.

Chapter 85
Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Cristo

"Poor young man!" Monte Cristo muttered, so low that even he could not hear these words of compassion as he spoke them. "It is written that the sins of the father shall be visited on the sons, even to the third and forth generation." (85.135)

Monte Cristo, on the other hand, clearly doesn't believe that there are any extenuating circumstances. Revenge is revenge, and nothing should interfere with it, even across generations.

Chapter 86
Haydée

"This was directed to me by my respect and my sorrow, Monsieur," Haydée replied. "God forgive me: though I am a Christian, I have always thought to avenge my illustrious father." (86.120)

Although it's hard to grasp, Christianity and revenge are able to exist side by side, at least as far as Monte Cristo and Haydée are concerned.

Chapter 88

"You know, mother, Monsieur de Monte Cristo is almost a man of the East and an Oriental; in order not to interfere with his freedom to take revenge, he never eats or drinks in his enemy's house." (88.39)

Monte Cristo is constantly focused on revenge; his daily life revolves around it.

Chapter 103
Julie Herbault (née Morrel)

"You are wrong, Monsieur," Morrel exclaimed, rising on one knee, his heart smitten by a pain sharper than any he had yet felt. "You are wrong. 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)

Here, once again, we see two very different kinds of salvation brought together. The priest will, one assumes, ensure that Valentine's soul is safe in heaven, while Maximilian will secure her honor and memory on Earth.

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