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Fahrenheit 451 And The Count Of Monte Cristo: Freedom Inside Of A Prison

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One of the most compelling aspects of a story is the rebirth of a character. Rebirth is often compared to the Phoenix, the mythical bird that would burn itself up and then experience rebirth from the ashes of that same fire. Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, used the comparison of the Phoenix several times throughout the novel to describe the main character Guy Montag and the repressive society that he resided in. This novel is an example of science fiction and is one of the many novels in this genre of writing that uses some form of the Phoenix. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Count of Monte Cristo, does not definitively use the Phoenix comparison in the novel, but readers can pick up on it throughout the novel as the story tells of the main character development of Edmond Dantés. The novel is an example of historical fiction and is based on real newspaper articles that Dumas read. Both novels include the main character being inside of a prison, a literal prison in the case of Dantés, and in the eyes of Montag, his society was his prison. Both characters went through massive changes in personality, and while both were trapped, Edmond and Montag’s different prisons brought them freedom.

Neither Edmond or Montag were put in prison by choice. Edmond was told that he was going to be let go, and was then carted off to the Chateau d’if for fourteen years. Montag was born into a brainwashed society where almost no citizen disagreed with the rules of their repressive government. Edmond went through a cycle while in the prison, he first turned to God and waited and hoped for the future, ‘Dantes fell on his knees and prayed earnestly. The door closed, but this time a fresh inmate was left with Dantés. Hope’ (Dumas, 99). Montag was born into his repressive society. A society that made citizens feel perfectly happy to sit in front of screens all day and being told what to think so that they do not have to think for themselves. When Montag is finally exposed to a new world of thought, he meets up with an old friend named Faber. Both Montag and Faber start trying to come up with ways to start getting rid of the regime. “ I feel alive for the first time in years,” said Faber. “ I feel I’m doing what I should have done a lifetime ago. For a little while, I’m not afraid.” (Bradbury, 125). Both respective prisons did their best to drain lifelike qualities from their inhabitants. These are the first of the many events that set off the changes in both Edmond and Montag.

Montag and Edmond were somewhat oblivious to the world around them.

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Montag was working as a fireman, a fireman whose job it was to burn books. The first line of Fahrenheit 451 is “It was a pleasure to burn.” (Bradbury, 1). This is a society that tells its people what they should think and know. One person is not smarter than the rest, one person is not superior. Because of the way of this regime, books had been banned. The radical ideas and different views on government would make it too easy to have people forming ideas and thoughts for themselves. Montag had grown up knowing that in his society, books were illegal. So for him, he was just helping rid the public of what he thought was a harmful substance. “We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for 1,000 years and as long as we know that and have it around where we can see it, someday we’ll stop making goddam funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them.” (Bradbury, 156). Edmond did not come from a wealthy family, he was illiterate, but had a very kind and helpful personality. While he was on the Island of Elba, exiled Napoleon Bonaparte asked Edmond to deliver a letter to a friend back in Marseilles. Unknowing what the letter contained, Edmond agreed. Not long after his arrival in Marseilles, Edmond was arrested and sent to trial. At the conclusion of his trial with Chief Prosecutor Gérard de Villefort, Edmond was told that he was going to be released, he was taken without knowing why to the Chateau d’if Prison. Upon his arrival at the prison, Edmond was told that he was sentenced for treason and for having communications with Napoleon Bonaparte. After years of being in the prison, he wasn’t so naive and was determined to seek revenge on his enemies who had put him in the prison wrongfully. “And now,” said the unknown, “farewell kindness, humanity, and gratitude! Farewell to all the feeling that expand the heart! I have been Heaven’s substitute to recompense the good- now the god of vengeance yields me his power to punish the wicked!” (Dumas, 251).

After being put into their respective prisons, Montag and Edmond both had someone who changed their way of thinking.

Montag met Clarisse who showed him a new side to the world that he had come to know. She took the time to slow down to contemplate the meaning of life, and everything in it. This led to Montag stealing books from the houses that he was burning for his job. The two books that the reader hears the most about is the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Revelation. The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches the reader about living your life and doing what is right for the greater good of society. The Book of Revelation is about a member of a society who was not accepted and was different. “Every time he burnt himself up he sprang from the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing.” (Bradbury,156). Montag could relate to the Book of Revelation, as he felt out of place after he started stealing the books, and The Book of Ecclesiastes was a sort of call to action to Montag. Meanwhile, off the coast of Marseilles in the Chateau d’if, Edmond, in secret, had gotten to know a fellow prison inmate named Abbé Faria. Edmond agreed to help the Priest dig secret tunnels to escape the prison, in exchange to learn how to read, write, and other useful skills for when he got back to Marseilles. The Priest also helped Edmond make the connection between why he was sent to the prison and who sent him there. After bridging all of the gaps and missing pieces, Edmond turns to devote his free time to another subject, revenge. Revenge against everyone who was a part of the conspiracy of sending his to the prison. With both of these characters, they had to go through the stated major turning points within their prisons in order to finally get some peace of mind.

Both characters had to come to the realization that their prisons had to become a part of their personality development. Montag would have remained a fireman, and continued to burn books, and within those books, the knowledge that comes with them. Instead he became a part of a smaller group that wanted to protect the books. Montag committed the Book of Ecclesiastes to memory. It was his job to remember it, so it could be passed down through the age without books, the group was working towards a new and reformed society. As for Edmond, after he escaped the Chateau d’if, he continued on with his plot of revenge, that lasted years. He gave back to everyone who was kind to him in the years prior to his fourteen years in the prison anonymously. After using years of his life to enact his revenge, he finally got to be at peace with himself. “We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life. Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart! And never forget that until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man and all human wisdom is contained in these two words: “Wait” and “hope.” (Dumas, 1065).

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Fahrenheit 451 And The Count Of Monte Cristo: Freedom Inside Of A Prison. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from
“Fahrenheit 451 And The Count Of Monte Cristo: Freedom Inside Of A Prison.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Fahrenheit 451 And The Count Of Monte Cristo: Freedom Inside Of A Prison. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Oct. 2023].
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