A man by the name of Pierre Picaud, was wrongly accused of being a spy by his “friends,” and because of this he was sentenced to jail. While in prison Pierre spent ten years plotting his brutal revenge on his friends turned foe. He inflicted great horrors on each and every person involved in his wrongful accusation, even their innocent children. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Count of Monte Cristo, based his novel on this man, Pierre Picaud, and his life’s mission- revenge. Although there is a preconceived notion that revenge can lead to happiness, in actuality what Edmond learns, is that all revenge ends up leading to, is a self proclaimed justice. Dumas, through the character of Edmond Dantes, is saying that the journey of revenge will lead to the mentality, and the realization that an individual does not hold the gift of providence, only God is the one with the right to reward and punish. Through Edmond’s quest, his character develops to form this realization that only God has providence, because he is enlightened in prison, undergoes a reawakening, and feels immense guilt; evidently making him come to the conclusion that revenge is counterproductive.
Edmonds enlightenment begins, only after he is sentenced to a dark lonely life of imprisonment and torture for an act of treason which he did not commit. Upon his years in prison, Edmond happens to make a knowledgeable friend, Abbe Faria, who is able to deduce immediately that Edmond’s imprisonment is due to his friends betrayal. Faria then says, “I regret now,” said he, “having helped you in your late inquiries, or having given you the information I did.” “Why so?” inquired Dantes. “Because it has instilled a new passion in your heart—that of vengeance.” (Dumas 61). Until Abbe Faria relayed this information over to Dantes, he had been entirely ignorant of the evil done unto him, whole heartedly believing it had just been misfortune that had guided his path. The author, Alexandre Dumas, is pinpointing the exchange between Dantes innocence and enlightenment, showing that the knowledge transferred from Abbe Faria to Dantes, will be used as a power source, fueling his new passion of vengeance. Dantes naiveness and innocence has now been destroyed forever, and as Abbe Faria predicted, Dantes will begin his transformation from an innocent and loving boy, into a man consumed with the thought of vengeance.
Upon being flung off a cliff by the grave diggers, it seems a reverse baptism of sorts takes place instantly as Dantes hits the sea. Soon after being flung off the cliff, Dantes washes up on an Island, and immediately upon finding civilized men, in a conniving manner, Dantes befriends them, hoping that in return they would grant him passage on board their ship. Once Dantes is on board he has a glimpse of his now natural instinct; “Then his eyes lighted up with hatred as he thought of the three men who had caused him so long and wretched a captivity.” (76) This is what fourteen years behind bars had done to Dantes, it changed him from being the clear cut innocent boy, into a man only excited and intrigued by proclaiming his self evident justice, through the uniform of vengeance unto those who have wronged him. Dumas, in order to make this character change evident, changes Dantes name to mask his true appearance, “… awakened in him a world of recollections, as had the name of the Count of Monte Cristo on the previous evening.” (129). The author by modifying Dantes name, mirrors the change in Dantes ethics and morality, which he developed after his “baptism”. He has progressed from Edmond Dantes, the nineteen year old innocent sailor, into the thirty-three year old, rage consumed, Count of Monte Cristo.
Dantes thirst for vengeance has gone too far, as Edward Villefort is the first innocent person who is unintentionally murdered. Though the Count has already destroyed many lives, he has not administered any damage on anyone undeserving of his justice. When the Count of Monte Cristo discovers that Edward has been killed, “[H]e felt he had passed beyond the bounds of vengeance, and that he could no longer say, “God is for and with me.” (438). This calamitous injustice casts Dantes whole mission of vengeance into a cloud of uncertainty. And in a moment of lucidity, the Count realizes, that he is not omniscient nor omnipotent; meaning he is not capable of administering punishment in such a way that someone undeserving is not harmed. Due to this realization, for the rest of the novel, the Count tussles with this doubt, and ultimately comes to the conclusion that only God has the right to act in the name of Providence.
Through the Journey of vengeance, Edmond Dantes comes to the realization that since he is not all knowing, he should not have the power to allot punishments; that right belongs solely to God. Dantes friend, Abbe Faria, was able to be an educator, teaching him the truths of himself. After Edmonds miraculous escape, Edmond took with him that new found knowledge and passion, and transferred its power into a fuel source for his new passion- revenge. From this point onwards, Edmond changes his name to the Count of Monte Cristo, in order to exact his vengeance under a disguise. But when Edward, a truly innocent victim was struck down, the Count, in a moment of clarity realized that he is not worthy to be administering punishment. From Edmond Dantes transforming into the Count of Monte Cristo, it is evident that Alexandre Dumas, was arguing that revenge is counter productive, and can lead to uncertain outcomes. Dumas is arguing that because Edmond is only mortal, and not all knowing, the result of his actions can never be determined, therefore revenge can never fully work to his benefit. Dumas outlines that instead of the endless search for happiness through vengeance, true peace of mind comes when a person lets go of grudges; when he has ultimate mercy.