The Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexander Dumas, is a classic novel about a young sailor named Edmond Dantes who is imprisoned for alleged conspiracy with Napoleon. Doomed to a life in jail, Dantes discovers that the series of disastrous events that led to his imprisonment were caused by his very own “friends”. Vowing to get his revenge, Dantes manages to escape captivity, and find those who made his life miserable. Dantes then identifies himself as the Count of Monte Cristo in order to execute his carefully wrought revenge to bring down each and every one of his avengers. Although there are several themes throughout this novel, the one most prevalent is the perseverance required to get what one wants.
Dantes starts to show perseverance the moment he escapes from the Chateau d’ If in his determination to get revenge on those who caused his imprisonment. In his new life as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes kindles new relationships with his former acquaintances in attempt to turn them on each other from within. Initially Monte Cristo appears to be completely heartless; however, he does find ways to benefit his new friends as well as get his revenge. Monte Cristo’s first target is Monsieur de Villefort. Before his conviction Monte Cristo believes that he can trust Villefort to help clear his name; however, Villefort turns on him to protect his own reputation. After punishing Villefort for his wrongs, Monte Cristo wants nothing more than to leave Villefort and his family alones. ‘“I’ve come to tell you that you’ve paid your debt to me and that from now on I will pray to God not to punish you any further”’ (484). In this statement Monte Cristo is trying to express that the pain that has been brought to the Villefort family was his doing. Monte Cristo then focuses on ruining the life of Monsieur de Morcerf, former Fernand Mondego. Just a month after Dantes’ imprisonment, Mercedes, Dantes’ fiancée, receives word that her beloved Edmond Dantes had died in prison.
Because of her loneliness, and the fact that she was pregnant with Dantes’ child, Albert, Mercedes forces herself to move on and marries Fernand. Although no one else recognizes Monte Cristo as Dantes, Mercedes sees right through him the first time that they meet since his imprisonment. Mercedes asks Dantes to forgive Fernand for the pain that he has caused Dantes and his father; however, Dantes completely transforms into a heartless, revenge-seeking monster, and will not stop until he has completed his plan. ‘“Ask me to forgive a man for stealing my love…a lover’s deception. Very well, since you ask I forgive him. Ask me to forgive him for stealing fourteen years of my life, forgiven. But forgiven for destroying my father? Never!”’ (377). Using the information that Haydee, one of Monte Cristo’s slaves, had about her father’s murder, Monte Cristo reveals Fernand’s role in multiple conspiracies. In an attempt to avoid a bad image Mercedes and Albert leave their house with nothing to start a new life. After seeing his wife and son leave, Fernand realizes that Monte Cristo still has everything while he has nothing. Fernand then kills himself because he believes that Monte Cristo has won.
Love is another reoccurring example of perseverance throughout this novel. Although Monte Cristo still loves Mercedes he is also aware that he can never be with her. What he is unaware of is that there is another person in his life that wants to be with him forever. Monte Cristo is blind to this love at first because Haydee is his slave, so she is required to do whatever she is told. However, Haydee expresses her true love for Monte Cristo by refusing to leave even though Monte Cristo grants her freedom. “‘I love the life you’ve always made so sweet for me and I’d regret it if I had to die.”’ (529). Maximilien and Valentine are a perfect example of true love. They have the world against them, but because of their unfailing love they are able to get through every obstacle thrown their way together. Maximilien loves Valentine dearly, but Valentine is being forced to marry Franz d’ Epinay, a man she doesn’t truly love. Max and Valentine try everything to be together until they are completely hopeless. Valentine’s mute grandfather (Villefort’s father) steps in and scares Franz off because he cannot stand to see his granddaughter so upset. Then tragedy strikes the Villefort house when Valentine is poisoned with brucine. Because of all of the other tragedies in the house, Valentine had been building up immunity to the drug in case the murderer should try to kill her too.
Although love seemed hopeless to Max and Valentine once again, Monte Cristo made them promise to trust him and everything would be okay. Monte Cristo puts everything on the line when he stages Valentine’s death, so that she and Max can be together. However, Monte Cristo does not share his plan with Max, so Max thinks that Valentine is dead and is left completely hopeless. ‘“I love her deeply, madly! I love her so much I’d give all my blood to save her from shedding a single tear! I love Valentine de Villefort who is being murdered at this very moment, do you hear me? And I’m asking you and God to tell me how I can save her!”’ (402). Monte Cristo loves Max and Valentine so much because they remind him of himself when he was young and in love with Mercedes. He wants Max to have everything that he couldn’t have because of his disastrous fate. Consequently, Monte Cristo gives Max and Valentine his fortune to give them the best possible life.
One’s perseverance to accomplish a goal surfaces in almost every character in this novel. Perseverance displays itself in many different forms throughout this novel, from love to revenge to uncovering the truth. As a result of their persistence and unyielding love, Max and Valentine find the happy ending that they had been searching for their whole lives. Haydee professes her love for Dantes, which causes Dantes to realize the true reason that he could not love Mercedes. Because of his perseverance Dantes is able to start a new life after being betrayed by his enemies, and ultimately accomplishes everything he vowed to finish.