Friday, March 14, 2014

The Consequences of Wielding Providence

So I’ve let myself pause and re-evaluate where I’m really going to go with the Count of Monte Cristo these past couple days. The major aspect of the book, that I wrote about before which draws me into it, is the question of whether Edmond Dantes will really find happiness and peace after all the horrible and fantastic things he’s done. His drive to act for Providence gradually evolves for substituting himself in the place of Providence. I think I want to dig into his need to control and manipulate life, the resulting displacement of God and the consequences of that. I think I could even connect it to Alice (Hurrah!) and her desperate attempts for control over her Wonderlands.
Creative Commons 2.0/ Tony Delgrosso

Key Passages:

“Each time he pressed down with his foot, a jet of blood spurted from the man’s throat. Franz started backward and sank half-fainting into a chair. Albert remained standing, but his eyes were closed and he clung tightly to the window curtain. The count was as erect and triumphant as the avenging angel” (Dumas 143).
“ ‘I have always heard of Providence yet I have never seen it or anything resembling it, which makes me think it does not exist. I want to be Providence, for the greatest, the most beautiful and the most sublime thing in the world is to reward and punish’. But Satan bowed his head and sighed. ‘You’re mistaken he said, ‘providence does exist, but it is invisible; you have never seen anything resembling it because it works by secret springs and moves in hidden ways. All I can do for you is to make you one of the agents of Providence.’ I made the bargain with him; I may lose my soul because of it,” (213).
“…his last words were, “Maximilian, it was Edmond Dantes!,” The Count’s pallor became almost frightening; all his blood rushed to his heart and he was unable to speak for a moment…”For the first time I have forgotten myself in many years” (220)
“There is a Providence and there is a God…the proof of it is that you’re lying there helpless, dying and denying God, while I stand before you rich, happy, healthy and safe, joining my hands before that God in whom you try not to believe, but whom you nevertheless do believe in the depths of your heart,” (343). 
“You say that without knowing the greatness of the sacrifice I’m making for you, Mercedes. Suppose the Supreme Maker, after creating a third world, had stopped there to spare the tears of an angel who would otherwise have wept over our crimes one day; suppose that, after having prepared everything and sowed the seeds of life, just as he was about to admire his work, God has extinguished the sun and plunged the world into eternal night-if have imagined all of this, you still won’t have any idea of what I’m losing by losing my life at this time,” (379).

“ ‘On your knees! This is our benefactor, the man who saved our father’s life…Julie clutched the Count’s hand, Emmanuel embraced him as though he would a tutelary god and Maximilian
Creative Commons 2.0/ Jerry Worster
once again fell to his knees. At that moment the man of bronze felt his heart swell in his chest and a flame seemed to dart from his throat to his eyes. He bowed his head and wept,” (447).

“…the Count of Monte Cristo reappeared. His features, ordinarily so calm and noble, were contorted with grief. In his arms he held the body of Edouard, whom he had been unable to bring back to life….as though he were afraid the walls of that accursed house might collapse on his head, he hurried out to the street, doubting for the first time that he a right to do what he had done,” (486).


So in these sections, I am most interested in the imagery and diction being used. I love the contrast of the powerful, religious description of the Count and the image of him in a much more humbled, humanized, broken posture. I also find it fascinating how the language used is so steeped with biblical connotations and allusions. I went to project Gutenberg, and did a quick search in the online text of the Count of Monte Cristo, and found that his full name, “Edmond Dantes”, is only used 40ish times throughout the whole book. His name as the Count or Monte Cristo occurs over 2000 times. I think I definitely want to find a concordance for the Count of Monte Cristo and check that out.


One effect of Dantes transformation into the Count and his pursuit of “righteous vengeance” is the near obliteration of his original identity. Also, when others invoke his name, rather than when he use it as a tool of fear, it still has the power to make him pause and connect back to humanity.


  1. Ooh, that's fun! I really like your phrase about the displacement of God--that's a really fascinating idea. If you're still brainstorming for ways to do social proof, I think it would be fun to talk to people that have read Monte Cristo and find out what their thoughts about that displacement of God idea are. That's a good phrase to latch onto. And I like how you connected it to Alice, I think her issues with control are a big part of what goes on in Wonderland and Looking-glass land. I'm excited to see what this leads to :)

  2. That is a great idea! I will definitely do that.