The Count of Monte Cristo is a novel in which Alexandre Dumas tells the story of Edmond Dantes, how he was wronged, and his eventual plans for revenge. Although there are many characters in the novel, the main characters which Dumas presents are all preoccupied with their own personal pressing issue.
When one is entirely consumed by a single thought it will inevitably lead to moral blindness when achieving the full realization of this single thought because these people are no longer concerned with the consequences of their actions. This can be shown in the Count of Monte Cristo in the characters of Danglars and Morcerf, with their jealousy of Dantes, Villefort, who is extremely ambitious, as well Dantes who is consumed by thoughts of revenge.
The characters of Morcerf and Danglars are consumed with their hatred for Edmond, although their sources of jealousy and anger differ. Morcerf is jealous because both he and Edmond are in love with Mercedes and she has chosen to marry Edmond over Morcerf (Fernand). Danglars, however, is jealous and angry towards Edmond because when the captain of the ship dies Morrel promotes Edmond to the position of captain instead of Danglars.
Thus, Danglars feels he has been robbed of his rightful position. Together, along with Caderousse, these two men who are angry with Edmond devise a plan to ruin him. Their plan involves sending an anonymous letter to the public prosecutor about a letter that Edmond is unknowingly carrying to a Bonapartist.
Even though they are all aware that Edmond is only doing so on the dying wish of his captain and not because of any malicious intent. By not only allowing but also in creating the circumstances which make Edmond be sent to jail, they have shown clear evidence of moral blindness because they know that their friend should be free but they believe that any negative outcome of Edmond’s life because of their doing is of no consequence to their happiness. “Let us leave Danglars possessed by the demon of hatred and trying to breathe some evil insinuation against his comrade into the shipowner’s ear…” (16)
This quote illustrates that Danglars is only concerned with getting ahead; he is not concerned with how this will affect the life of his comrade. By only being concerned with himself he does not show proof of morality because he will not come to terms with the fact that Edmond was more deserving of the job than he was, to prove his moral worth he should have instead taken this as a challenger to become a more performing member of the ship’s team. Morcerf, on the other hand, is also guilty of not learning his lesson when he does not realize that there must have been a reason for Mercedes to choose Edmond over him.
Instead of trying to win over her heart, he removes the obstacle without allowing himself the chance to consider the fact that whatever love he would have in the future with Mercedes would come at the cost of knowing that he would always have been chosen second. These two men will forever not have the power to acknowledge the role they have played to protect the success they have gained; they will forever be forced to lie to their inner self saying the end justified the means.
Villefort is the second character who puts aside his morals for the chance to attain one ultimate goal. To allow himself the chance of becoming a public prosecutor he has alienated himself from his father and his father’s Bonapartist name. “Villlefort flushed crimson. “It’s true that my father was a Girondin, madame,” he said, “but I’ve separated myself not only from his opinions but even from his name.”(21)
To further separate himself from his father Villefort goes as far as to put an innocent man in prison because he was unknowingly carrying a letter that would give a prosecutor proof of Villefort’s father’s unlawful associations. This innocent man was Edmond Dantes and not only does he not allow himself to care that he has sentenced an innocent man to prison for the rest of his life, but he also does not have the courage to tell the man to his face what his future will hold, choosing instead to lie to him saying all will be well.
Another instance that shows that he will put everything aside in his pursuit of getting ahead and becoming a prominent figure in society is his choice of wife, he admits he does not love her passionately but marries her only because of her family name. By putting his goal of success ahead of his choice at the love he faces the consequences later when he goes on to have an affair with Mme Danglars.
Because he is only concerned with his family name when she becomes pregnant he strangles the baby after it is born and is convinced he has committed infanticide. This does not haunt his conscience in a visible way because once again his name and position are safe and he can turn a blind eye to the consequences of being in a better position.
Edmond Dantes is wronged by the previous characters mentioned in the attempt to achieve their goals. This creates in Dantes his ultimate goal that of revenge and retribution. At the beginning of the novel Dantes is a passive and loyal character that gets himself into trouble when he agrees to deliver a letter for a man’s dying wish. “I’m not proud, but I’m happy, and I think happiness makes a man even blinder than pride.” (16) He does not take the time to consider how delivering the letter will affect his future demonstrating that he is not consumed by his thoughts of revenge at the beginning of the novel.
Towards the end of the novel, however, a different perspective of Dantes is revealed, he admits that happiness and sadness are all relative to one another, therefore to experience great happiness you must first experience the most profound unhappiness. Dantes puts himself in a position that is god-like to exercise complete control over those people that have wronged him. Abbe Faria is disappointed that he has instilled this feeling of revenge in his heart because it has changed the way Dantes acts as a person; he no longer possessed his morals.
Whereas at the beginning of the novel Dantes was full of thoughts on what is right and what is wrong, “I’d rather not know who they are or I’d be forced to hate them.” (26) Dantes says this after he is questioned about people that may hate him because of his ease at success. Dantes goes so far as to neglect his previous display of morals with the hope of achieving revenge that his actions lead to a mother committing suicide and killing her young son as well.
This gives Dantes a moment of pause to consider the consequences of his actions; however, it does not stop him from carrying out the rest of his plans. This shows that although Dantes started out with plenty of morality after he was wrong he becomes blind to the emotions of those around him.
Morcerf, Danglars, and Villefort become so enthralled with their life that they do not consider the effects of their actions on the character of Dantes. This fuels his hatred and eventually leads to all four characters choosing not to see any outcome of their actions that is not favorable to the achievement of their desire outcome. By choosing to pursue these actions ahead of any morality and goodwill these characters continue to live a life where they are forced to lie to themselves in an attempt to avoid responsibility.
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