The Count of Monte Cristo – Classic Tale of Obsession, Revenge, and Cigars

I read this book sometime last quarter, and it was definitely one of the better novels that I have read. It was written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844 originally in French. The story takes place during the 1800’s in France/Italy. It’s actually based on a true event, which makes it all the more impressive.

*Note: May contain spoilers.

The book centers around Edmond Dantes, an ordinary sailor. Good fortune shines on him: he gets a promotion and becomes engaged with the girl he loves. But this good fortune causes jealousy in those around him, and his so called “friends” hatch a scheme that lands him in a far away prison, equivalent to present day Alcatraz. He is left to rot in prison with no pardon for over 14 years. During his time in prison, he meets an abbey. The abbey teaches Edmond everything he knows, which was quite a bit (several languages, chemistry, etc.) and lastly leaves him with the location of a buried treasure.

Edmond escapes prison through an ingenious way, which is actually based on a true event. I won’t say how he managed to escape, because I thought that was one of the high points of the story, so you’ll have to read the book to find out (BOO for reading!). Anyways, he recovers the treasure (buried on a small island called Monte Cristo, hence the Count of Monte Cristo), and begins to plot his revenge. He spends an additional 10 years planning and scheming, using the vast resources left to him by the abbey before finally implementing his revenge.

The rest of the story involves him using his massive wealth to systematically get revenge on not just those who had wronged him, but their families as well. His plots and methods of getting revenge are intricate, cruel, and plain effective. A bunch of seemingly irrelevant events are introduced to the reader as the book goes on. Some are so far out there that I couldn’t figure out what the connection was until the punchline (or maybe I’m just dumb). However, in the end, every little detail and occurrence all ties back into the Count’s master plan. I won’t say how he did it, because that would ruin the story, but he is able to formulate a plan to “justly” punish all of those that wronged him according to their motives for originally taking away his happiness.

I spent the beginning of the book feeling sorry for him, and then cheering for him as he was getting his much deserved revenge. But towards the end, I started to feel that he was taking things too far, and that he had become consumed entirely by his hatred. All in all, I thought this was a great book. I highly recommend it for leisure reading, as well as for a class. There are tons of literary motifs, themes, and archetypes to be analyzed. I probably would’ve really enjoyed reading this book for a class. Wow I’m such a nerd.

Nerdy part aside, several COOL movies were based on it, including V for Vendetta. That’s not a nerdy movie is it?