The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870) is one of the best books that I have read, and if you love a good story filled with drama, then this is the book for you. I was very captivated and wanted to find out how the story ended. I was a bit disappointed with the ending, but you do not always get what you want. With any good book, there are many life lessons embedded in the story, as well as big ideas.
At over 500 pages, the Penguin, Signet Classic version of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is an abridged version, so the original must have been very long. While reading the book, I didn’t feel as if I missed anything. The book was first published in a serialized format from 1844-1845.
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In the story, 19 year old Edmond Dantès, a sailor, has just returned from a voyage. Dantès has a very happy personality and is very grateful for life. After being away for a few months, he goes to visit his father and then on to see his beloved Mercedes. While on the voyage, Captain Leclère dies from brain fever, but before this happens, he givse Dantès two envelops to deliver. Though Dantes is quite young he captains the Pharaon to their final destination – Marseilles. Before he docks the ship, Dantès takes the time to deliver one of the letters.
Dantès and Mercédès are deeply in love and plan to get married. Monsieur Fernand Mondego is also in love with Mercédès and is jealous of Dantès. Monsieur Danglars, the purser of the Pharaon, is envious of Dantès because the owner of the Pharaon, M. Morrel makes him the new ship captain. During the bethrothal feast, Dantès is arrested for being a Bonapartist faction, but is not told anything about the charges.
During Dantès’ examination by M. de Villefort, the Deputy Procureur Du Roi, believes what he is hearing, but when he reads the second letter that Dantès is supposed to deliver, he is quite frightened and burns the letter, telling the young man not to ever tell anyone about the letter suggesting that the contents would harm him. The letter that Dantès is supposed to deliver is addressed to M. de Villefort’s father, who is a Bonapartist. If anyone sees the letter it would be damaging to M. de Villefort’s career. Dantès is very naive and believes that he will be freed, but that wasn’t to be the case. He is imprisoned at the Château d’If for 14 years.
While in the prison dungeon, Dantès is quite distraught and thinks of ways to kill himself. He also thinks of ways to escape his prison, and tries to dig his way out. One day he hears a sound and realizes that there is another prisoner as well in the dungeon of the prison. He calls out to the prisoner, and after a short time they are able to meet each other face-to-face via a tunnel they dig.
The next part of the story is critical to the plot because it’s the point in Dantès’ life when he becomes awakened. His fellow inmate is a learned priest, Abbé Faria, who is also condemned to lifelong imprisonment. Abbé Faria also has an escape plan. Both can relate to each other because they are wrongfully accused. Abbé Faria asks Dantès to relate everything that happened to him prior to imprisonment and they would figure out what really happened. The important thing that Faria wants to know is who stood to gain the most from Dantès imprisonment – surprise, surprise, Fernand and Danglars.
The priest was regretful that he helped Dantès to figure out the people who did him wrong, because he loses his innocence and now wants revenge. Abbé Faria becomes a mentor to Dantès, and he is a worthy one. At the time, Dantès had been in prison four or five years. The priest commits to teaching Dantès all he knows during the next two years and they draw up a plan to do so. He teaches Dantès history, mathematics, physics and the three or four languages he knew. Dantès’ mind was like a sponge, “Dantès had a prodigious memory and a great facility for assimilation. The mathematical turn of his mind gave him aptitude for all kinds of calculation, while the sense of poetry that is in every sailor gave life to dryness of figures and severity of lines.
Abbé Faria and Dantès develop a true friendship, one of give and take, and they develop a great trust between each other. The priest however suffers from cataleptic fits and has one. He had the opportunity to tell Dantes what to do and the young man gives him the medicine and brings him back from the brink.
Abbé Faria discloses the whereabouts of a treasure that he will seek when he escapes from prison and offers Dantès half when they escape. These two men demonstrate patience while they execute their escape plan. Though Dantès wants revenge against those who did him wrong, there is much goodness within him, and even when freedom is close by, he decides to stay with the priest. The priest tells him when he dies, Dantès should execute the escape plan and all the treasure is his. When Abbé Faria has the third attack, it’s fatal.
When the gaolers do their daily check on the prisoners in the dungeon they realize that Abbé Faria is dead. The priest is placed in a death sack for burial. Dantès gets the idea to swap the priests body and lie in the death sack, so he makes the switch. He makes sure that he has an implement to dig himself out of the grave. Dantès does not realize that inmates have a watery grave because they are thrown into the sea. They weight him down so the body will sink when thrown into the sea, and fortunately for him he has a knife and uses it to free himself, and his ability as a strong swimmer saves him.
Dantès is picked up by pirates and has a prepared story about who he is. Even though he is free, he doesn’t seek the treasure immediately, instead he spends months working as a sailor for the pirates until the time is right, timing is always everything. The treasure is exactly where Abbé Faria figured out where it would be and it is vast. Dantès becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, and because so many years has elapsed since he was imprisoned, his features have changed, so his old “friends” are not able to recognize him. However, he is able to recognize all of them.
Abbé Faria trained and mentored Dantès well, so he knows what it is like to be patient, and one of the things that I admire about him is that he also uses some of the treasure to do good. The story really takes off from here as he investigates and learns how his father died and what became of his love, Mercédès. Fernand has married Mercédès and is now known as Count de Morcerf.
The story is actually quite gripping, and Dantès masterfully executes his plan of revenge against those who harmed him. Mercédès discovers that Dantès is the Count of Monte Cristo and appeals to him to spare her son’s life, when the two are supposed to fight a duel. He listens to her, which says that he has not lost all his compassion and goodness. The key players who had a hand in his imprisonment suffer terribly.
Maybe I expect too much, but I didn’t find the end of the story gratify, it feels unfinished to me.
Lessons from The Count of Monte Cristo
- Having mentors in life is so important.
- Money should not be hoarded but used to help others to do good.
- Revenge is never a good thing.
- Feed your mind and master the fundamental knowledge in your field.
- Be compassionate.
- Forgive, forgive, and forgive.
People who read The Invisible Mentor regularly know that I am trying to read the classics, and have been struggling because they move so slowly. The Count of Monte Cristo is gripping and has so much to offer, especially when you read actively. The book is not among the must read classic literature, but I highly recommend The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. If you want to to purchase The Count of Monte Cristo movie (Click the link. I recommend that you read the book, but I recognize that not everyone enjoys reading as much as I do).
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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- Interview With Invisible Mentor Sean MacDonald, Lawyer for Wrongfully Convicted Part Two
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas – BBC Radio Drama
- Review: The Count of Monte Cristo
- The count of Monte Cristo Download from Gutenberg.org
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