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Considering Edmond Dantes as a Tragic Hero

Info: 1227 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 12th May 2021 in Literature

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Is He One Of Those

     “The key element in tragedy is that which destroys heroes that appears to be their greatest strength”by Robert Shea. Many tragic heroes in literature serve the purpose of showing justice or instrument of revenge. They have each chosen very different paths in response. For example, Edmond Dantes from the count of Monte Cristo is driven by extreme passion. He is framed by his friends for his succession. Edmond Dantes suffers fourteen years of injustice in jail until he escapes. He is filled with a vengeance through the knowledge provided to him by Abbe Faria. He seeks vengeance who once betrayed them. In the chapter after he escaped from jail, he shows no mercy to the guilty and the innocence. While Edmond Dantes spends fourteen years of jail because he was framed for treason. His mentor implants a sense of revenge into his heart as achieving justice. In this paper I will argue that Edmond Dantes is a tragic hero because of his moral corruption by giving excessive belief in false justice and revenge.

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     Definition can support Edmond Dantes as a tragic hero. In the beginning of the book, Edmond Dantes shows honesty, naiveness and ability. It showed him as a young successful sailor on the rise of becoming the future captain of Pharaon. He was in love with Mercedes and showed full devotion to his father. Most importantly, Edmond treated everyone with the same respect despite his personal dislike. For example, he does not make a scene when Caderousse mistreated his father, and even lent him some of his money. Even during the Villefort examination, he tells that Danglars is simple, natural, eloquent with that eloquence of the heart never found when sought for; full of affection for everybody…. because happiness renders even the wicked good (Dumas 30). This proves undoubtedly that Edmond is a respectable and successful young man. It also says that even though Edmond Dantes dislikes him, Edmond Dantes tells him as a good friend. This coincides with Aristotle's tragic hero, who shows morally good and displays noble behaviors. Yet, his good behaviors and tolerance towards others do not bring peace and happiness but make his enemies jealous. They perceive not his love, but a sense of arrogance. Eventually in the book, using the letter that was sent by Captain Leclere to Villefort grandfather but was framed as Edmond Dantes getting the letter. Dantes is innocent because he is loyal to the french government’s justice (represented by Villefort).  Just like Aristotle's tragic hero, Dantes contributes to his own downfall not because of his sinful actions or decisions but his naïve behavior and lack of knowledge.

    Edmond Dantes is not exactly the ideal Aristotle tragic hero: he is neither a nobleman nor a person from high status. Dantes made a living by sailing ships and risking his life. Even though he is one of the successful among his peers, he is still considered the bottom of the pyramid. After getting framed by Villefort and put in jail. His mental stability decreased, and his physical health decreased because of extreme isolation for fourteen years. As it says in the article, “How extreme isolation warps the mind” in an experiment about what extreme isolation does to the brain, the “volunteers suffered anxiety, extreme emotions, paranoia and significant deterioration in their mental functioning”. (Bond 3). This happens the same to Edmond, who has lost his mind and identity and is reduced to a single number 34. Edmond Dantes passed through the stages of misery. First, he began with pride, which results from hope and a consciousness of innocence. Second, he doubted if his family of friends helped him to get released from jail. Then he prayed to men but not to god and last he was begging for books and free time outside.

     When Dantes escapes from 14 years of prison and changes himself into the count of Monte Cristo. Abbe Faria changes him from a naïve and lack of experience person to god like intellectual and physical capabilities. His obsession for vengeance causes him to lose his human side. When he was with Franz, he did not taste the food or hangout with any women. While he had the money to have a luxurious lifestyle, he does not enjoy any of it. Although Edmond Dantes has intense knowledge and wisdom, he no longer possesses the knowledge of human love and the feeling of caring for other people. When he talks to Villefort, he states “... I am from no country, since I ask no government for protection” (Dumas 212). This tells that he isolates himself from society, building standard of justice of his own and living up to his own. It also shows his extreme isolation in his path of vengeance. Dantes has become a being that is unearthly and detached from life as seen through the statements.

     Dantes obsession for punishment takes away his loving and tending attitude. As Edmond Dantes takes revenge on the people who betrayed him, the suffering of the innocent does not concern the Count. Edmond Dantes views himself as an agent of God. As it says in the book. “farewell to kindness, humanity and kindness… I have substituted myself for providence in rewarding the good: may the God of vengeance now yield me his place to punish the wicked” (Dumas 131).  Dantes imposes pain and tragedy upon the families of Edmond, Danglars and Villefort. He never took the account that the lives of the children are being affected and viewed them as instruments of their father's punishment. For Example: Valentine knows nothing about what Villefort did to Dantes.  However, the count had no intention of saving Valentine from her stepmother's plan to kill the whole family. He seems to be guided by the cold logic and absolute justice, but his inconsideration, in fact, reflects his excessive ambition and passion as he turns to ways that he knows are wrong.

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In reality, the triumph of Dantes in vengeance is his weakness because he faces self-alienation, succumbs to the forms of brutality he once rejected, and leaves human emotions and wishes behind. His own initial tragedy ignited a chain of destruction, disrupting many others ' peace and prosperity. The book ends with Dantes’ resignation and peace as he retires from the world with Haydee. All his knowledge from his transformation and suffering is finally condensed into the wisdom of two words, “Wait and hope.” The tragic hero finally finds his role in this universe: no longer as an innocent, unknowing sailor, or an omniscient agent of Providence who carries out God’s judgement, but as one who obeys the future revealed by God.

Work Cited Page

  1. Aristotle. “Poetics .” The Internet Classics Archive | Poetics by Aristotle, classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.1.1.html#200.
  2. Bond, Michael. “How Extreme Isolation Warps the Mind.” BBC Future, BBC, 14 May 2014, www.bbc.com/future/article/20140514-how-extreme-isolation-warps-minds.
  3. “Robert Shea Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/robert_shea_249113.


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