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Free Study Guide-The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas-Summary
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THEMES

The novel is an extremely moral one at heart, dealing primarily with Themes of God, religion, the relationships between men, and the conflict between good and evil. Dumas bases the novel around the overall theme of revenge, with the implications of this revenge (specifically: good vs. evil, man vs. man and man vs. God, punishment and reward, the relationship between suffering and happiness, the importance of hope, man as his own authority, the relationship of man with society) explored as supporting Themes which arise from the act of revenge itself.

As a general overall side note, the novel addresses the issue of "circumstance", without necessarily addressing it as a "theme". Almost every character in the novel finds him or herself a "victim of circumstance" at some point in the novel, and the theme of revenge and the punishment of evil and the reward of good results in rapid changes in the circumstances of the characters who are affected. In this sense, the ephemeral nature of circumstance is highlighted, as characters that are burdened by suffering one day are suddenly wealthy and successful the next, while characters that are successful and wealthy one day are suddenly poor and uncovered as frauds the next.


Unfortunately, Dumas oversimplifies his characters in his attempt to render the issues surrounding the act of revenge as black and white, essentially rendering the characters as either martyrs or "bad seeds" which have no hope of redemption.

MOOD

The mood of the book changes throughout its course, beginning as light and optimistic, as we are happy for the protagonist and note that he has what appears to be a bright future ahead of him. The mood turns sinister when we realize that his supposed "friends" are trying to harm him because of their own ambitions, and the mood then becomes depressing while Edmond Dantès is in jail and absolutely miserable.

Following his release from jail and for the majority of the rest of the novel, the mood is consistently and remarkably one which is permeated by anger, bitterness and revenge. The Count, a perfect Byronic hero, is obviously an outsider to the society he is attempting to destroy, and the mood becomes one of foreboding and expectation, as the reader almost dreads to learn how the Count will punish his enemies.

At the end of the novel, the Count has accomplished all he set out to do, and appears to feel better. As a result, the mood becomes lighter, and the Count sums up his eternal life motto at the end of the novel as one of "hope".

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Free Study Guide-The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas-Summary
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