Archetypes in The Count of Monte Cristo
Mysterious, morose, cunning, rebellious, and even ingenious are only a few words used to describe Edmond Dantes as a Byronic Hero. A Byronic Hero is defined as a glorified but flawed character with immense superiority in his passions and powers. These heroes can be depicted in a variety of ways and contexts. Similar to a Byronic Hero, Edmond Dantes has suffered great wrongs and was betrayals. However, he emerges as a cruel and powerful man who believes he is taking the place of fate by having revenge on the men responsible for his suffering. In The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas skillfully uses symbolism to craft and portray Edmond Dantes as the ideal Byronic Hero. First used by Monsieur Morrel in his attempt to save the life of Dantès’s father, Dantès later uses the red silk purse when he is saving Morrel’s life and family’s honor. Right as Monsieur Morrel puts the gun to his head, Valentine runs through the door and calls out “’Father! Father! You’re saved!’ She held up a red silk purse. ‘Look! Look!’” (Dumas 129.) The red purse becomes the physical symbol of the connection between good deed and reward. Morrel recognizes the purse and works out the connection between the good deed performed on his behalf and the good deed he once performed himself. Morrel concludes that Dantès must be his savior, suspecting that he is working from beyond the grave. This purse represents Dantes as a Byronic Hero because it symbolizes his own titanic passion to reward those that have done him fair and kindness. His intense drive and determination to live out his philosophy without regard to others' beliefs only intensifies this immense fervor. When Dantès escapes from prison, he plunges into the ocean, experiencing a second baptism and a renewed dedication of his soul to God. Just after diving into the ocean, Dumas depicts Dantes as “…the best swimmer in Marseilles, and he was now anxious to rise to the surface to try his strength...
Cited: Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo. Reissue ed. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print.
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