The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel written by Alexendre Dumas in 1844. The story is set during the first half of the 19th century and it is a tale of intrigue, jealousy, betrayal and revenge. The intricate plot centers around a young and ambitious sailor, Edmond Dantes, his wrongful imprisonment, and eventual escape and revenge against his enemies.
The story begins with Edmond Dantes and his friend, Fernand Mondego who are crew members on a ship when the vessel’s captain becomes ill. Edmond takes command of the stricken vessel and sails the ship to an island where he hopes to get medical assistance for the incapacitated captain. He sails to the island of Elba, where he obtains the necessary medical aid. Mondego and ship’s mate, Baron Danglars plot to wrongly imprison Dantes, both for a different reason. Mondego was jealous of Dantes and his pending marriage to the beautiful Mercedes. Danglars was angry that Dantes was made captain over him. With the help of the investigator Villefort (who is more concerned with political expediency than true justice), Dantes was imprisoned.
While in prison, Dantes is treated poorly by the warden. Dantes is not called by his name, rather only as number 34, the number of his cell. He is also beaten many times. Fortunately, he befriends a fellow prisoner, Abbe Faria, a elderly and wise Italian priest. Faria acts as friend and mentor to Dantes and teaches him many things, everything from philosophy to history. Dantes also learns how to become a good swordsman and most importantly, how to have flawless manners. The two friends were carrying out their escape when Faria died. While he lay dying, Faria tells Dantes the location of a buried treasure, which would yield wealth beyond imagination.
Finally, after 18 years in prison, Dantes manages to escape and with the help of smugglers, his confinement is over. He immediately begins plotting revenge on his three enemies. Using his new found wealth and as a series of aliases (including the Count of Monte Cristo), he exacts revenge on the three men. Danglars eventually became a wealthy banker. Dantes, through a complex series of transactions, manipulates the financial markets and bankrupts Danglars. Dantes also destroys Villefort’s reputation and political future by revealing embarrassing secrets from Villefort’s past. He also exacts revenge on Mondego who, through dishonest means, had married Mercedes. Upon Dantes’ return, Mercedes disowns Mondego and he commits suicide.
This book has many complex characters and the plot is very intricate. Dantes revenge is complicated by the interwoven relationships between the main characters and he is not always able to destroy an enemy without also hurting a friend. The “Count of Monte Cristo” (along with “The Three Musketeers”) is widely considered to be one of Alexendre Dumas’ finest works. The story has also been made into several movies and is one of the most adapted stories in cinematic history. It is highly recommended for fans of Alexendre Dumas or fans of literature in general.