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For the purposes of The Count of Monte Cristo, there is truly only one major character, namely Edmond Dantès/The Count of Monte Cristo, and his other various aliases. The novel revolves completely around him and his quest for vengeance and indeed, all other characters are treated as flat and static personalities, owing mainly to the fact that Dumas has attempted to make their distinction as either "good" (and therefore deserving of happiness) and "bad" (and therefore deserving of punishment) very clear. The Count of Monte Cristo’s enemies, for example, are rarely attributed with any redeeming qualities whatsoever, and Dumas has employed blatantly obvious references to their character tagged onto the phrases attributed to them, as in the following:
"‘But,’ pursued Danglars with one of his sinister smiles, ‘an order for unlimited credit calls for something like caution on the part of the banker to whom that order is given.’"
Edmond The/The Count of Monte Cristo/The Abbé Busoni/Lord Wilmore
Edmond The/The Count of Monte Cristo is nineteen years old and extremely innocent and naive at the beginning of the novel. Following his betrayal by his enemies and the 14 years that he is forced to spend in prison, Edmond emerges as a new, and complex character, evidenced most obviously by his new identity as "The Count of Monte Cristo".
From having spent such an extended time in prison, The Count emerges as a remarkably resilient man, described as extremely pale and resembling a vampire because of his dark hair and light skin. His extreme suffering and depraved existence while in jail has meant that he has an incredible appreciation for luxury, good food and accommodation, and his tastes verge to the extreme after his escape from the prison, made possible by his fabulous wealth.
Most remarkably is the coldness the reader senses about the Count of Monte Cristo. He is rarely described as showing emotion or reacting as if anything surprises him, and we will learn later that this is because he has spent years preparing his heart and mind to view and experience all types of horrific events in order to brace himself to systematically carry out his own horrific plans of vengeance against his enemies without caving in to weaker feelings of sympathy, empathy, guilt or revulsion. Because of this early training, the Count avoids close relationships with friends or acquaintances, partially because he has been hurt by them, but also because he hopes to punish his enemies and reward those who are good anonymously, and must therefore hide his identity and the reasons for his actions. This attempt to hide his true identity is aided by the disguises he adopts in the novel when he finds them necessary. During the main body of the novel, it is difficult to get to truly know "the man" behind the name and image, with the small exception of disparate points within the novel when the Count is visibly affected by a person or event, at which point he sweats, or turns away to hide the expression on his face.
The Count manages to carry out his plans for revenge as he had planned, but despite his early preparations, he begins to question the severity of his actions towards the end of the novel. This guilt, his increasing (although initially unwanted) love and respect for others, and his subsequent reaffirmation that he has carried out God’s will, eventually permits him to let his past sufferings go, to begin to consider forgiveness, and to once again open his heart to love.