Characterization of Dantes, Perception of Religion, and the Unplanned Event in Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo

Subsequent to its release in the Journal des Debuts in 1844, the French novel, “Le Comte de Monte» Cristo” was deemed a forbidden book by the Catholic Church due to its discussion of controversial topics In spite of this, the story became popular and continues to thrive over one hundred years following its release, being translated into a plethora of languages, sparking the plot for multiple films and television shows, and being read by students across the globe. The novel grapples with the question of fate, developing a convincing argument for both sides.

In Alexandre Dumas‘ “The Count of Monte Cristo” the careful characterization of Dantes, his perception of religion, and the rare occurrence of an unplanned event illustrate the idea that Dantes is subject to fates.

Following the convictions of the Romantic period in which the novel was written, the main character in the novel, Edmond Dantes, begins young and naive, untainted by the evils of the world in which he lives, Upon his arrest Dantes remarks, “Don’t worry; the mistake will soon be cleared up, probably even before I reach the prison” (Dumas, 20).

Still under the impression that the world is a place of good intention, Dantes believes that the truth will be discovered, and his arrest is simply an error Dumas uses this statement to develop the idea of Dantes‘ unrelenting faith in the system, which he is depending on. Unfortunately, he comes to find that he was mistaken in his beliefs following his time in the Chateau d’Ift During this time, in a discussion with the Abbe Faria, “a dazzling light seemed to flash through Dantes’ brain and things which had until then remained dark and obscure now became crystal-clear to him”.

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Dumas uses imagery to show the audience the massive realization of overcoming Dantes at this moment. He longer holds the faith in humanity, which has characterized him for the entire novel; instead, he realizes that humanity is impure, working on the whims of their personal desire. Following the completion of his revenge, Dantes leaves behind a final letter to Maximilian, his parting words being “the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and hope” . The statement is one of immense power, in which Dumas shows how dear Dantes holds the advice, which he gives to Maximilien. Significantly, Dantes does not tell Maximilien to try to control fate, he simply advises him to hope. When looked at in succession, each of these quotes emphasizes the personality shifts Dantes goes through during the course of the novel; he begins full of hope, yet comes to lose his faith, and later moves full circle, redeveloping his belief in the importance of hope for what is to come.

Ultimately, Dantes comes to understand that there is no way to control the world around him, they simply must submit themselves to fate and allow God to make use of his plan. Monte Cristo meticulously plans each occurrence he is going to experience, yet there are some moments within the novel where things happen that he is not expecting. Upon his first introduction to Parisian society, Monte Cristo attends lunch with Albert. As Albert introduces his friends, Maximilien Morrel is announced and, “at this name the count, who had until then bowed courteously but coldly and impassively, involuntarily took a step forward and his pale cheeks flushed slightly”. Even when carefully considering the friends that Albert might invite, the son of his former employer certainly never crossed his mind.

Many of the most shocking moments involve the Morrel family, who possess a close connection to Dames in many ways. Maximilien reminds his sister in front of the count that their father believed “it wasn’t an Englishman who gave us our happiness… his last words were ‘Maximilien, it was Edmond Dantes! “’  This revelation that Monsieur Morrel had proclaimed the truth on his deathbed, giving Dantes the honor of his last words, takes the Count by surprise; ever since his escape from prison, he has been distancing himself from the name ‘Edmond Dantes’. As careful as he is with his preparations, the Count can never expect everything, and even if he did Providence would still have the upper hand. In his encounters with Maximilien, fate often takes the chance to shock Maximilien, working both for and against him through the occurrences, which fold out. Another play on the idea that there are things that Monte Cristo lacks control over is the death of Edouard de Villefort.

When he manipulates the older children of his enemies Dantes feels no remorse, yet something about indirectly causing the death of an innocent child makes Dantes cripple under his regret; “he realized that he had gone beyond the limits of rightful vengeance and that he could no longer say ‘God is for me and with me’” Even if he did lack a belief of fate there is no doubt that Monte Cristo held a belief in God, which accompanies the belief that he has a plan for everyone, therefore he knows he has no true control over the world around him. In Dantes’ own words, “He [Satan] said ‘all I can for you is make you one of the agents of Providence} I made this bargain with him I may lose my soul because of it, but if I had to do it over again I would do the same thing”. Dantes’ belief in religion is shown through his belief that Satan, who is usually considered contradictory to God, was the person who awarded him his power in fate.

The proposition that Satan himself made this offer allows the reader to understand that evil came over Dantes during his time in prison to put him in such a frame of mind where he would do such things as he plans. When he reached the point in which he could no longer allow God to make the decisions for him, Dantes conspired with Satan to make his own decisions of what is best, to alter fate, if not entirely enabled to change it Even with the belief that he has some control, Dantes still realizes that he can never truly possess full control over the happenings of the world. At the moment that Danglars questioned his captors regarding the person whom they obey to, their single response is “God”.

Danglars remains oblivious to who the man they are speaking of is, but the reader is, unlike Danglars, able to infer that the man whom they speak of is the Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas‘ readers knew the revenge plan, which Dantes possessed, and had watched it unfold over a stretch of time, seeing the ultimate end to each of his enemies: Caderousse, Villefort, Fernand, and now Danglarsi Finally, nearing the end of the story, even Dantes is willing to admit that he had no true control, writing to Maximilien “never forget that, until the day God deigns to reveal the future to man, the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and hope” Dumas leaves the reader with words that will move them, having Dames himself admit that God is in controli. The best chance that anyone has in life is to allow God to control fate by showing them the future they were destined to; the only responsibility in the process is to wait and hope, leaving all else to God.

In his parting letter, Dantes writes, “Pray now and then for a man who, like Satan, believed himself for an instant to be equal to God, but who realized in all humanity that supreme power and wisdom are in the hands of God alone”. He alone admits that God holds the true power over him and the rest of the world, acknowledging the fact that he is far from equal to a greater deity as powerful as the controller of all things, including fate. Finally, Dantes has left behind his desire to control, now coming to submit himself to Providence, relenting his control, and keeping Maximilien from making the same mistakesi Dantes’ own admittance of this allows the reader to put to rest any questions they might have about the truth of fate.

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Characterization of Dantes, Perception of Religion, and the Unplanned Event in Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. (2023, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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