Recently I have been reading the imminent page turner The Count of Monte Cristo. It is rare to find such a page turner. I can hardly put the book down.
There is a specific passage that had a profund influence on me and reminded me fo the Temptations of Christ in The Bible:
“I too, as happens to every man once in his life, have been taken by Satan into the highest mountain in the earth, and when there he showed me all the kingdoms of the world, and as he said before, so said he to me, ‘Child of earth, what wouldst thou have to make thee adore me?’ I reflected long, for a gnawing ambition had long preyed upon me, and then I replied, ‘Listen, — I have always heard of Providence, and yet I have never seen him, or anything that resembles him, or which can make me believe that he exists. I wish to be Providence myself, for I feel that the most beautiful, noblest, most sublime thing in the world, is to recompense and punish.’ Satan bowed his head, and groaned. ‘You mistake,’ he said, ‘Providence does exist, only you have never seen him, because the child of God is as invisible as the parent. You have seen nothing that resembles him, because he works by secret springs, and moves by hidden ways. All I can do for you is to make you one of the agents of that Providence.’ The bargain was concluded. I may sacrifice my soul, but what matters it?” added Monte Cristo. “If the thing were to do again, I would again do it.”
Source of quote: Gutenberg.org
Before discussing the implications and impressions of this passage, compare it with the passage from The Bible of the temptation of Christ.
In the King James Bible, the text reads:
4 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Expanding on this, the philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “In regard to the words, ‘He showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,’ we are not to understand that He saw the very kingdoms, with the cities and inhabitants, their gold and silver: but that the devil pointed out the quarters in which each kingdom or city lay, and set forth to Him in words their glory and estate.” (Aquinas, Thomas (1920) [Fathers of the English Dominican Province]. “Question 41. Christ’s temptation”. Summa Theologica.)
Returning to the passage:
This passage created a profound series of thoughts in my mind. It is from chapter 48 titled Ideology in The Count of Monte Cristo. Indeed there quite a few moments in this entire novel that stand out to me but it is very interesting to see how the Count of Monte Cristo interacts with the perpetrators of his feet. It’s interesting to see you the way that Danglars was so presumptuous and ostentatious in his show to the Count of Monte Cristo when he appeared thinking that the Count of Monte Cristo was poor but when he found out that the County Monte Cristo was made with tons of money, he sort of seems to be frightened. It’s interesting within the context of the dynamic that the Count of Monte Cristo is causing problems with the people who did these terrible things to him — Edmond Dantes — as a young man. But at the same time the Count of Monte Cristo is developing a strong trust with Parisian society as well as the families that are related to these unsavory gentleman who put him through so much.
Is it possible that the Count of Monte Cristo has someone sold his soul in a Faustian bargain in order to fulfill this course of revenge that he alluded to after he saved the Morrel family from bankruptcy? Indeed he was really nice to the kind of people to were helping him such as the moral people — the Morrels. Alternatively it’s also interesting to see that Caderouse has someone of a mixed fate in the story. I think this is one of the most fascinating chapters in the entire book and it truly is a sense of ideology. It’s interesting to connect the biblical references with the references that the Count of Monte Cristo learned while he was imprisoned. Was this a Faustian bargain in any respect? Does the Count of Monte Cristo have something in common with Iago or Othello from the Shakespearean tragedy of Othello?
Indeed I think the reference to the Shakespearean cosmology is fitting because Villefort brings up the concept of Ariel and Caliban from the play The Tempest. Indeed it is interesting to reference Ariel who was the spirit who appears to serve the magician Prospero while on the other hand Caliban as indicated in the novel of the Count of Monte Cristo verges on the brutal.
© Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV