The Limits of Human Justice- Edmond Dantes takes justice into his own hands because he is dismayed by the limitations of society’s criminal justice system. Societal justice has allowed his enemies to slip through the cracks, going unpunished for the heinous crimes they have committed against him. Moreover, even if his enemies’ crimes were uncovered, Dantes does not believe that their punishment would be true justice. Though his enemies have caused him years of emotional anguish, the most that they themselves would be forced to suffer would be a few seconds of pain, followed by death.
Relative versus Absolute Happiness- A great deal separates the sympathetic from the unsympathetic characters. The trait that is most consistently found among the sympathetic characters and lacking among the unsympathetic is the ability to assess one’s circumstances in such a way as to feel satisfaction and happiness with one’s life. Dantes claims that “There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
In simpler terms, what separates the good from the bad in The Count of Monte Cristo is that the good appreciate the good things they have, however small, while the bad focus on what they lack. Love versus Alienation- Dantes declares himself an exile from humanity during the years in which he carries out his elaborate scheme of revenge. He feels cut off not only from all countries, societies, and individuals but also from normal human emotions. Dantes is unable to experience joy, sorrow, or excitement; in fact, the only emotions he is capable of feeling are vengeful hatred and occasional gratitude.
It is plausible that Dantes’s extreme social isolation and narrow range of feeling are simply the result of his obsession with his role as the agent of Providence. It is not difficult to imagine that a decade-long devotion to a project like Dantes’s might take a dramatic toll on one’s psychology.
Edmond Dantes – The protagonist of the novel. Dantes is an intelligent, honest, and loving man who turns bitter and vengeful after he is framed for a crime he does not commit. When Dantes finds himself free and enormously wealthy, he takes it upon himself to act as the agent of Providence, rewarding those who have helped him in his plight and punishing those responsible for his years of agony The Count of Monte Cristo – The identity Dantes assumes when he emerges from prison and inherits his vast fortune. As a result, the Count of Monte Cristo is usually associated with a coldness and bitterness that comes from an existence based solely on vengeance. Lord Wilmore – The identity of an eccentric English nobleman that Dantes assumes when committing acts of random generosity.
Lord Wilmore contrasts sharply with Monte Cristo, who is associated with Dantes’s acts of bitterness and cruelty. Appropriately, Monte Cristo cites Lord Wilmore as one of his enemies. Abbe Busoni – Another of Dantes’s false personas. The disguise of Abbe Busoni, an Italian priest, helps Dantes gain the trust of the people whom the count wants to manipulate because the name connotes religious authority. Sinbad the Sailor – The name Dantes uses as the signature for his anonymous gift to Morrel. Sinbad the Sailor is also the persona Dantes adopts during his time in Italy
The story begins in 1815 and ends in 1844. Though most of the action takes place in Paris, key scenes are also set in Marseilles, Rome, Monte Cristo, Greece, and Constantinople. Edmond Dantes has been betrayed by a neighbor, a coworker, a friend, a fiancee and an officer of the law, and following a lengthy imprisonment in terrible conditions, he escapes and uses the knowledge and wealth that has been given to him by a fellow prisoner to exact his revenge on all of these people.
He stops short of his fiancee when he finds that she still loves him and that her marriage to another was only because she thought he was dead. Edmond and his friend, Fernand Mondego, officers of a French trading ship, head to Elba seeking medical attention for their captain. Dantes and Mondego are chased by English Dragoons who believe they are spies for the exiled Napoleon. The Emperor declares they are not his agents, and asks Dantes to give a letter to a friend in France. After the captain dies, they are sent on their way.
Dantes is reprimanded by the ship’s first mate, Danglars, for disobeying orders. However, the shipping company’s boss, Morrell, commends Dantes’ bravery, promoting him to captain over Danglars. Mondego intercepts Dantes’ fiancee, Mercedes, and tries to seduce her. When he hears of Dantes’ promotion, Mondego realizes that Dantes will be able to marry Mercedes sooner than expected. Mondego gets drunk and tells Danglars about the letter Napoleon gave Dantes. Danglars has Dantes charged with treason and sent to magistrate J. F. Villefort.
Villefort is sure of Dantes’ innocence, but discovers the addressee is Villefort’s father, Clarion, a Bonapartist whom he denounced to secure a promotion. Villefort burns the letter and fools Dantes into submitting to arrest, then attempts to send him to an island prison. Dantes escapes and goes to Mondego for help, but Mondego wounds him so he cannot escape; when Dantes asks why he betrayed their friendship, Mondego says that he is angry that he wants to be Dantes despite his wealth and superior social position.
Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau D’lf. Meanwhile, news spreads that Napoleon has escaped from Elba. Mondego, Mercedes, Morrell and Dantes’ father go to Villefort to plead that Dantes is innocent, but Villefort rejects their efforts. Mercedes thanks Mondego for his support, but after she leaves Mondego and Villefort discuss their reasons for imprisoning Dantes. Mercedes is told that Dantes has been executed. In prison, Dantes befriends Abbe Faria, a priest and former soldier in Napoleon’s army. Faria was imprisoned because he claimed not to know the location of the deceased Count Spada’s fortune.
For 13 years Faria educates Dantes, teaching him mathematics, literature, philosophy, economics, hand and sword combat and military strategy. While escaping, their tunnel caves in, mortally wounding Faria, who gives Dantes the location of Spada’s treasure. When the guards put the priest into a body bag, Dantes removes the corpse, hides himself in the bag and is thrown into the sea. Dantes washes onto a desert island and encounters Luigi Vampa, a smuggler and thief. Vampa persuades Dantes to fight Jacopo, a traitor whom they intended to bury alive.
Dantes defeats Jacopo but makes a deal with Vampa to let him live; Jacopo vows to serve Dantes for the rest of his life. Dantes joins the smugglers for three months, leaving when they arrive at Marseilles. Not recognizing him, Morrell tells Dantes that his father committed suicide upon learning of his imprisonment and that Mercedes has married Mondego. Danglars took over Morrell’s shipping company after Morrell made him a partner. Dantes goes to the island of Monte Cristo, finds Spada’s treasure and vows revenge on Mercedes, Mondego and the other conspirators.
Dantes becomes the “Count of Monte Cristo”. He hires Vampa to stage a kidnapping of Mondego’s son Albert and then “rescues” him, inviting the boy to his residence. In return, Albert invites the count to his sixteenth birthday at the Mondegos’ residence. Dantes meets with Villefort to discuss a shipment of unspecified property. Mondego meets with Villefort later that evening and mentions that his son heard Monte Cristo use the words gold, shipment and Spada. They believe the shipment is treasure and plot to steal it. At the party, Mercedes recognizes Dantes, with whom she is still in love.
Jacopo allows her to hide in Monte Cristo’s carriage to speak with him, wanting his master to abandon his obsession with revenge and simply live his life. Dantes does not admit to being her former lover, but accidentally says ‘Edmond Dantes’; Mercedes had never mentioned Edmond’s last name. Dantes confronts Danglars with the police in tow; Danglars fights Dantes, who reveals his true identity before having Danglars arrested. Dantes gets Villefort to confess that he persuaded Mondego to kill Clarion in return for telling Mercedes that Dantes was executed.
Villefort is charged with conspiracy to murder, and realizes Monte Cristo’s true identity before being imprisoned. Mercedes admits that she still loves Dantes. After spending the night together, Dantes decides to take Mercedes and her son and leave France. Dantes has Mondego’s debts called in, bankrupting him. Mercedes confronts Mondego, revealing she is leaving him and Albert is Dantes’ son; she only married him and claimed that the boy was born prematurely to hide his true paternity. Mondego leaves for his family estate, where the stolen gold shipment was to be taken.
He finds that the chests are filled with dirt and sand, and that Dantes has arrived to take his revenge. Albert rushes to defend Mondego, until Mercedes reveals to Dantes and Albert that they are father and son. Mondego attempts to kill Mercedes, but only wounds her, as Jacopo throws off his aim. Mondego fights Dantes, and Dantes stabs Mondego through the heart. Dantes returns to Chateau d’If to pay homage to Faria and promises him that he has given up on revenge and will live a better life. He leaves the island with Mercedes, Albert and Jacopo.