“Why is The Count of Monte Cristo so Compelling?
The Count of Monte Cristo is the story of vengeance that arguably started and defined the synonymous subgenre. After the novel had been released, it wasn’t too long before its narrative started to get imitated to varying degrees of similarity and the ensuing success, one example being Ben-Hur (Wallace, 1906). Consider how the horror genre only really started rolling after the arrival of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and you will notice the similarity.
Alexandre Dumas has created a timeless classic due to the nature of the story; it manages to stay actual even today. According to the author himself, the whole revenge plot sprung from a real-life story circa 1807. This is not surprising since just about anyone found himself wanting for revenge, and such a story deals with our basic instincts and the human nature as a whole. Not only does such plot transcend time, it also has something to offer to anyone.
The author cleverly centers our attention on the protagonist of exaggerated qualities that is performing feats that the reader is subconsciously projecting onto the ideal self of his own. The Count excels in everything, be it love, vengeance, tenacity, intelligence, wealth, and is armed with the power of anonymity – not unlike the modern superheroes (Modrzejewska, 2005). But he is facing a dilemma on its own: the vengeance that comes in aspects both positive and negative. As fulfilling it may be, at the same time it can leave one empty and desolated. The pendulum of his mind swings from the idea of himself being the “tool of God” to seeing revenge as an obsession that forces him to waste his time on bringing misfortune to the world. It would take certain willpower to stop at the right time and return to the normal life.
This novel first came out as regularly published series, and only once it was finished, as a full-fledged book. A smart move for its time, this contributed to the novel’s popularity. Essentially, an effect comparable to the modern TV series was generated, giving the readers the breathing room for discussing and speculating about the events to come while waiting for the future installments.
Wallace, L. (1906). Lew Wallace; an Autobiography, p. 936. Charleston, South Carolina: Nabu Press
Modrzejewska, K. (2005). La condition masculine dans la littérature française, p. 23-25. Opole, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Opolskiego”
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