The Count of Monte Cristo -“wait and hope”

I finally finished Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo.  While I, by no means, have any regrets spending so much time reading this, I doubt that I’ll be in the mood to read a book of more than about 400 pages any time in the near future.  But that being said, this novel ranks up there as a favorite.


This isn’t the first novel that I’ve read that originally was written in serial format, but this is the first one in which I could easily see how it could be separated into small pieces that could get readers hooked on the story and get them coming back for more.  Since I’ve finished it, I’ve wondered what kind of experience it would have been if I had read only a chapter a week.  Whenever I decide to read The Three Musketeers, I might try that.  I don’t think it would be that different from watching a serial television show such as Lost for six seasons.  The more things change – the more they stay the same.

I could sum up the theme of Monte Cristo in one word: revenge.  The plot revolves around Edmond Dantes’ efforts over several decades to give his betrayers what they deserve.  Throughout the novel, questions arise as to how much vengeance is due to Dantes’ own attempts, how much is the result of the betrayers, themselves, and how much is simply due to Providence, Fate or Destiny (all three of those words are used at various points).  It’s interesting that Destiny vs. Free-will was also a theme of Lost.  As one might expect, no specific answer to any of these questions is given in the novel.  Instead, each gets masterfully woven into the intricate storyline.

In spite of Dante’s vengeance overseeing the plot, redemption and forgiveness are not far behind.  While not planned, I happened to finish this book on Easter Sunday.  It’s final message of “wait and hope” seemed fitting.

My previous post about this novel when I was at the half-way mark is here.




10 responses to “The Count of Monte Cristo -“wait and hope”

  1. Yeah, I failed to follow through and read along on this one. 🙂 I really like your idea of reading at the same pace at which it was originally published. That’s a great idea! A great way to experience the work in a way a little closer to “the original experience.”

    The only serial reading experience I can recall having is one as a kid, where the Indianapolis News was publishing some king of Christmas story in installments and my mom would read it to us in the evenings. Knowing there was more to the story but not having access to it was incredibly tantalizing to my young mind. I wonder now what the story was. Maybe Mom remembers – I’ll have to check with her…

    • Jay,
      I’m curious as to how frequently TCOMC installments were published. Was it a chapter a week? That would have taken a while to get to the end, but not that different from six years of a television show. Or was it several chapters at a time – weekly or monthly? I’m sure I could find out somewhere.

      I really liked the book, but I’m glad to be moving on.

  2. My second-favorite book of all time. In fact, we named our first daughter Mercedes. (I actually like Haydee better as a character, but the name Mercedes is so lovely.) I’m so glad you enjoyed this! But yes, by the end, I’m eager for something short 🙂

    Do you think that, in the end, this book is supposed to demonstrate that revenge can be justified?

    • Great question!

      I don’t think the novel painted revenge as being something bad…at the same time I wouldn’t consider it to actually justify revenge.

      Of his betrayers downfalls, it’s difficult to know exactly what Dante caused and what was brought on by themselves. I’m also curious as to how much Dante would have been able to accomplish without all of his riches?

      My gut instinct says that Dumas knew that “revenge” could make a great story. And it did!

      • Good thoughts! I’ve read several reviews by people who didn’t like the book because they saw it as glorifying revenge, and I don’t see it that way, so I was curious about your take. I think Edmund is no happier by the ending as he was at the beginning, though he does have a grim sense of satisfaction, but I think he realizes that he has made quite a few innocent people miserable, just as he was an innocently miserable person at the beginning.

      • I also think there are some differences between when the novel takes place and our present day. For example, I don’t think dueling is quite as common today as it was back then. “Revenge” could have been seen in a different light in the 19th century.

    • Your review was great! I think next year I might read The Three Musketeers in serial fashion the way it was originally written. I see from your website that you are reading The Pickwick Papers that way. Sounds fascinating!

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