Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Help Wanted--From One Desperate Student to Another

Creative Commons / Jayel Aheram
Okay, so I know all of you are probably just like me. Completely swamped, busy with finals, and have plenty of things to do. But I am still writing my research paper, and would appreciate any help that anyone is willing to give me. 

I am trying to figure out how to form a cohesive thesis statement. I'm not quite sure how to make this a "research" paper rather than just a typical literary analysis. What I would like to do is talk about one of the following: 

1. That Education is tied directly to agency. This manifests itself in The Count of Monte Cristo with the Abbe Faria, who helps Dantes figure out why he was imprisoned, and then gives him the knowledge he needed to be whatever he wanted. When Dantes escaped from prison, because of what Faria gave him in education (not just the treasure), he was able to start completely anew.

Off of this, I'd like to argue that the Count illustrated the misuse of agency, and he chose to be bitter and resentful when he could have chosen to be happy and live well with what he had. 

Off that, I'd argue that everything he did was for revenge, and ultimately led to his own misery and emptiness when the revenge was finished. 

2. I also found that there are several biblical allusions in The Count of Monte Cristo. I was thinking that I could tie this into the previous argument by showing Faria as a Christ figure, and Dantes represents us. We are given agency, and our choice is contingent upon Christ's sacrifice. Just as Faria's death brought life to Dantes, Christ's death brings spiritual life to each of us. 

I was thinking of tying this in with some of the other biblical allusions in the book to argue that Dumas was using these religious allusions to show how wrong the Count was in obtaining all of his great revenge. Throughout the entire story, The Count sees himself almost as a figure of divinity, and I'd like to argue that Dumas was trying to tell his readers that this was wrong. 

The best example of this is with the elixir that the Count creates. He creates this potion that seems to have the power to kill and bring life. The Count's overestimation of the elixir's power reflects the overestimation he has of his own power, and his delusion that he is almost godlike. This all crashes and burns when he tries to use the elixir to bring Edward de Villefort back to life, a casualty he had never intended in his revenge scheme. Of course, the elixir is not powerful enough to actually bring the dead to life, just as Dantes himself is not capable of achieving divine feats. 

I would also talk about how the Count makes several comments about himself as being a messenger of God, and yet he only brings about destruction. Everything he does is for revenge, and at the end of his scheme, he is left utterly empty. Part of my argument would be that Alexandre Dumas, the author, intended this to be so, so as to illustrate what happens to those who choose hatred over goodwill. 

The Count's few meager efforts to show goodwill, and the happiness he finds in these deeds, also contribute to that argument. 

These are the ideas that I have right now, and I would appreciate any kind of feedback anyone has for me. I am sorry for the jumbled nature of them, but I am trying very hard to organize these thoughts into some type of cohesive argument. I am also not sure how to incorporate Lewis Carroll into any of this. 

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