Humanity And Mammonism

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

download word file, 7 pages 0.0

Downloaded 1650 times

Humanity and Mammonism -inside the Count of Monte Cristo In the research of western literature, the Mammonism and Humanity seem to be the eternal theme. Humanity has appeared firstly in Italy in 15th Century, the time of the Renaissance of Culture. Then it led to a philosophic debate on human rights for several centuries. In the other hand, with the development of the modern industry, western people paid more and more attention to the value of money. And currency circulation has become the symbol of the age of the great industry. And from then, Mammonism has more and more conflicts with Humanity because no one wants to live for money but can not live without money. And novelists, just like the lubricant, often use their unique humor and tolerance to reconcile the disputations between them and discover the mysteries of them. The Count of Monte Cristo and its writer Alexander Dumas can be regarded as a milestone of them.

Alexander Dumas was a force of nature. A robust, roaring man of vast appetites and even vaster energies, he cries out to be measured in cubits rather than the feet and inches that are used for mere mortals. For forty years, sparks from his mighty anvil lit fires which inflamed the world and burn still. Edmond Dantes is one of his stuff of dreams.

He was born in 1802 at Villers-Cotterets. When he was twenty-one, he left Villers-Cotterets and his job£­ a none-too-diligent minor clerk and determined to make his way in Paris as an author. With the arousing of the Revolution, Dumas scored an enormous success with Henry III and His Court(1829), a play which helped to inaugurate the new ¡°Romantic¡± drama which was a potent expression of the reaction against the ultra-conservative political, moral, and cultural climate of the Restoration. In 1840, Dumas initiated his attention into historical realism. And The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo(1844-1846) are the most famous two among his ¡°historical novels¡±. He loved travel and was a talent cooker. He lived among the nobilities, but he called himself a natural republican who had strong sense of social justice. But at the corner of his halo, some people criticized his sumptuous and dissipated life and his open-handed writing style. It¡¯s partly true. His open-handedness helps to explain his cavalier attitude to literary property. Early in his career, comments were made about his use of collaborators, and even friends and fellow authors found it hard to believe that any one man could, unaided, write or even dictate all vast novels he signed. In 1845, a journalist named Jacquot attempted to expose Dumas, accusing him of directing a ¡°fiction-factory¡± which employed writers to turn out the serials and volumes to which he put his signature. Dumas took him to court and won his case. And in his later years, he lived with his son, mostly in Italy. And in December, 1870, Dumas died at Puy, near Dieppe, after a stroke in September.

The Count of Monte Cristo was drawn from a true affair entitled ¡°Le Diamant et la Vengeance¡±(¡°Revenge and the Diamond¡±) which attracted Dumas. This affair began in Paris in 1807 where four friends from the Midi, Francois Picaud, Guilhem Solari, and Antoine Allut were in the habit of meeting regularly at the caf¨¦ run by one Mathieu Loupian, a widower with two children. When Picaud, a cobber, announced that he was to marry Marguerite Vigoroux, a pretty girl with a handsome dowry, the envious Loupian persuaded the others that Picaud needed to be taught a lesson. With only allut dissenting from what he considered to be a dangerous jest, they denounced Picaud as an English spy. He was arrested and disappeared from sight. Seven years later, in April 1814, Picaud was released from the prison of Fenestrelles in Piedmont. While serving his sentence, he had grown close to another prisoner, a Milanese cleric abandoned by his family, who had come to regard him as a son (just like Dantes and Faria). Before his death in January 1814, the cleric made over to him a vast fortune which included a secret hoard of three million gold coins. Picard returned to Paris an extremely rich man on 15th February 1815. There he learned the Marguerite had waited for him for 2 years before marrying Loupian who had used he dowry to open what had become one of the most fashionable caf¨¦ in Paris. Following the trail, he traveled to see Allut who had retired to Niems. Calling himself the Abbe Baldini(Abbe Faria?), he explained that he had shared a cell in a Naples jail with Picard who was now dead. After he revealed the identity of those who had denounced him, he used his money to take his revenge, who is the embryonic figure of Monte Cristo.

It also is the main line of The Count of Monte Cristo, but novel is novel. It needs lots of others essential elements. And the most attractive thing that can entirely express the contradiction between Humanity and Mormonism is the writing style of contrast used by Dumas. The brave and honest Edmond Dantes and envious liars, Danglar, Villefort and Fernand; Count Cristo, a great philanthropist who has the treasure of heaven and the miser, Danglar, no one can took out a coin from his pocket until he died; a beautiful and kindhearted girl, Valentine and her stepmother, a malicious witch and Albert, a upright and vigorous youngster and his sanctimonious father, judge Villefort; and etc. There are even much more pairs of contrast which serve the main line of contrast- the money and the humanity.

And on the other hand, Edmond Dantes is not merely the victim of the envy of Danglars but a pawn in game of political intrigue: the clothes and titles may be different, but France is as firmly under the control of sultans and vizirs as the Orient where the outward forms of tyranny were at least openly acknowledged. Yet Monte Cristo speaks out against ¡°the socialists¡± and rejects all loyalty to a society hostile to the idea of justice, is not Villfort ¡°the living statue of the law¡±. Dantes the victim turns himself through his own efforts into a hardened individualist who, though he never forgets the rights of man, has relied on his own energies, brains, and will to overcame impossible odds.

At this level Monte Cristo shares the nascent habit of realism best exemplified by Balzac: indeed, the novel is sometimes thought of as a kind of ¡°Comedir humaine¡± in its own right. Then again, Dumas¡¯s protagonist, a superman who tastes disillusionment, belongs with those disintegrating, self-doubting heroes who so fired the Romantic imagination. He suffers the fate of those who live to see their wishes come true: the heady wine of vengeance turns to dust in his mouth. But Dantes trials and his heaven-sent opportunity to revenge the wrongs done also cripple him emotionally. His first thought on returning to France may well be to reward the good, and Morrel¡¯s business is duly saved. But he is doomed to engineer human happiness in which he cannot share: he is a man apart, an outsider. And the terrible toll he takes of those who wronged him leaves him empty rather than fulfilled. Vengeance may be a meal best eaten cold, but cold meats do not satisfy him. He is as lonely as Vigny¡¯s Moses who is abandoned by God. Monte Cristo does not simple live above the society which he judges, he is cut off from it, without human contact, a solitary figure chained to the destiny of his mission. He believes that he is God¡¯s agent through whom just punishment is meted out to those who have sinned against man and heaven. But as time passes, even he begins, to doubt that anyone can really be ¡°the angel of Providence¡±. As Meriedes points out, self-appointed Hammers of Lord are not always able to distinguish between Justice and Anger: why does Monte Cristo remember crimes that Providence has forgotten? It is only when villefort has gone mad, Danglars has blown his own brain out, and Morcerf is destroyed that Monte Cristo understands that he is not the privileged instrument of God¡¯s providence but a victim of fate like all the others. Only them does he abandon his obsession: the crimes of Mme de Villfort and the death of Edward, which he had not foreseen, do not simply teach him that Fate is beyond his control but finally sicken him. Monte Cristo¡¯s ultimate victory is not the defeat of his enemies but the spiritual re-birth which enables him to rejoin the human race and said away in hope with Haydee.

Fraucois Picaud revenged himself by acts which were criminal; Monte Cristo, as the agent of Providence, remains neutral, refuses to intervene, and settles for laying traps in which his pray entangle themselves through greed or ambition. His victims are made responsible for brining about their own downfall and their fate is a punishment not for what they once did to Edmond Dantes but for the crimes they have since committed against moral and social law: Danglars for his financial opportunism. Fernand for betraying Ali Pacha, and Villefort for applying the law without mercy. Behind events is a vigorous defence of Justice.

On the other hand, as a fiction, The Count of Monte Cristo also have its aspect of irreality. Dantes is the typical example. Living in the realistic world among such realistic people, his lily manner made him too distinguished from others. And also Priest Faria does. His role just likes the gift from God down on Dantes. Dantes became a Furies overnight. From this point, we also can have an opportunity to glimpse Dumas¡¯ helplessness of the Capitalistic society and his idealism of Mormonism.

If you want to find the result of the combat between Humanity and Mormonism, when you involve yourself into the novel. You will find nothing. Dumas just is a story teller, not a social critic. He tell us this kind of war will not come to the end unless the present society system has been replaced. The only way to avoid it is to escape, escape the world of human; escape the place where money is needed and escape the value of money, just like Count Monte sail his boat to the horizon of the rising sun. But however, we should know one thing: ¡°Money can never override Humanity.¡± Otherwise you will live in the menace of The Count of Monte Cristo.

At the end, I would like to quote the last part of the letter from Monte Cristo to Maximilian: ¡° 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, all human wisdom is contained in these two words£­¡°Wait and Hope¡±.

¡ªYour friend, EDMOND DANTES,¡± ¡ªEND¡ª ¡ªAPPENDIX¡ª SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO David Coward, Oxford University Press