The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas is the story of Edmond Dantès. His betrayal and falsely based life sentence in a dungeon on an island in an inescapable prison. He eventually escapes, finding the treasures on an island. 

The island is named the Isle of Monte Cristo, and from there, Edmond becomes known as the Count of Monte Cristo. After that, he carefully manipulates everything around him. He then employs that tactic to remarkable effect for his revenge. 

He slowly and carefully manipulates his enemies so that they destroy themselves. This tactic works, so that in the end, with only a few unexpected and undesired consequences that take it too far, his revenge is successfully wrought on them. 

Students at Davis High School read the book, but the question that is never asked is, why was the Count of Monte Cristo’s revenge successful? Why didn’t his enemies realize how much they were being played in his hands sooner? 

Consider the personalities of the antagonists: Caderousse, Villefort, Danglars, and Fernand Mondego/Count of Morcerf. They all shared one thing in common: they were vile, selfish creatures that took advantage of people and positions to get what they lusted or desired. 

The antagonists also have very two-faced standards of honor. They all cover up their deeds, but feel obliged, as rich men who have “honor”, to challenge those who insult them or cause misfortune to a gruesome duel to the death. 

In the end, it was their own poor and selfish choices that allowed themselves to be manipulated so easily. Their selfish deeds sowed the seeds for terrible consequences, and Edmond Dantès reaped those terrible consequences with his calamity creating revenge. 

Which is why the best way to learn from their choices is to study where they stemmed from so, we can learn from them. First, the antagonists lived mostly in selfishness and greed. The best way to avoid them is: 

Try to live life learning to let go of some wants and bridle them. No one can get everything they want exactly the way they want it. Second, they had no morals other than the Parisian wealthy’s code of honor. 

That moral code is very weak because the focus of that moral code is to never let insults to your name and always make sure that your image looks as beautiful as code. A strong moral code should have these: 

A realistic view on life, a strong set of morals that help keep you from making poor decisions and thereby save you from suffering the consequences, and helps you be a better person and impact on the world than otherwise. 

However, the most tragic part of the story is that Edmond, in the six months he exacted revenge, could’ve used that money for good. Instead, he used it to take revenge, and did only one truly good and noble deed. 

He paid the dowry to Mercédès, his former love, who married Fernand because she thought he’d never return after being sent to the dungeons of the Château d’If, as penance for letting his revenge harm her and her son, Albert.  

The only good deed he did was helping Valentine escape death and run off with Maximilien Morrel, the son of his former employer, thus preventing the death by suicide on the part of Maximilien, and death by murder for Valentine.  

We then decided to go out and interview a sophomore on his thoughts on the Count of Monte Cristo, since almost all the Sophomore here at Davis High read the book in their English classes. The interview went as follows: 

Why do you think the Count of Monte Cristo was so successful? 

Because it’s a revenge story,” Toby Butcher said. 

What attributes of the antagonists do you think allowed them to be manipulated so easily? 

They’re arrogant, confident that he [Edmond] is gone,” Butcher replied. 

What attributes of the antagonists should we avoid? 

Arrogance, but also [not] having resilience,” Butcher told us. 

What attributes of Edmond are most favorable? 

He is charming, gets favors done easily, he’s rich, and filled [with] vengeance,” Butcher said. 

What choices that the antagonists and Edmond made that we should avoid? 

Maybe not killing as many people,” Butcher replied. 

There are lessons to be learned from the Count of Monte Cristo about how betrayal feels, and why exacting revenge didn’t solve the initial problems that came with that betrayal itself. These lessons can help us improve ourselves and society. 

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