Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There are some things I can’t stop thinking about in connection with this book. It reminds me of how I felt upon finishing Notre-Dame de Paris (no, I didn’t read it in the original French. I wish I were that fluent….) – horrified and fascinated all at once.
For instance: it’s devastating to think that Mercedes married Fernand while Edmond languished in prison. But just think – Fernand arranged for Edmond to be imprisoned for the express purpose of marrying Mercedes. Is it not awful to imagine, for a moment, that Mercedes never married, and was free to wed the newly-escaped Edmond? For then, Fernand betrayed Edmond Dantes, causing him to be locked away for 14 years… to no purpose. Sure, it’s upsetting that he was imprisoned to begin with – but to imagine that the very reason for which he was imprisoned came to nothing…. It’s pointless that he was arrested in the first place, but that would be even more pointless, if you understand my meaning.
Another thing – “Andre Cavalcanti” nearly becomes engaged to Eugenie Danglars. “Andre” is really Benedetto, the long-lost (illegitimate) son of M. Villefort and (his former mistress) Mme Danglars. Unless I grossly misunderstand something, only Benedetto’s arrest prevents his (unwitting) marriage with his (unknowing) half-sister. Please correct me if I’m mistaken.
I was genuinely relieved when Albert apologized to the Count and they dispensed with their duel. I didn’t fancy reading about either dying – and I’d wondered ever since the Count learned of Mercedes’ marriage whether he would spare her – and her son – for his love for her, or punish the entire family (in revenge on Fernand for framing him, Mercedes for deserting him, and Albert for living).
I thought the ending was rather sad. I know the Count’s affection for Haydee shows that he is capable of moving beyond his past, and I know that he and Mercedes are different from the people they once were, but I feel a little cheated. It seems as though the Count and Mercedes should have continued their relationship – he’d waited for her for 14 years, and even in ten years beyond that he still felt something of the feeling he’d once had. I guess that’s just life – people move on, even from true love….
And, to answer the book’s most fundamental question: Can revenge go too far?
In the first place, I generally disagree with the Count’s basic position. Let the law handle things. In his case, though, the law was against him. If he told the law of Danglers’s, Coudrousse’s, Villefort’s, and Fernand’s crimes against him, he would again be locked up – if only for escaping prison in the first place. In the second place, he had no proof. He couldn’t go to the authorities; he had to take the law into his own hands, so to speak.
However, his forms of revenge affected not only the individuals he wished to injure, but many innocents as well. Indirectly, he brought about the murder of Valentine Villfort’s maternal grandparents, as well as the deaths of her step-mother and half-brother – and the supposed death of Valentine herself! Five deaths to avenge himself on one man! By the time he feels remorse, it’s too late – children have died to satisfy his thirst for vengeance.