The Count of Monte Cristo: A Case Study in Vengeance and Forgiveness
This is my first book review of a fiction novel, but The Count of Monte Cristo is certainly deserving of this place of honor. I recently finished reading this book for my twelfth grade literature class, and the whole (abridged) story—but particularly the ending—impressed me and helped to “set my mind on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.”
For those of you familiar with The Count of Monte Cristo, the plot revolves around the tribulation and vengeance of a certain Edmond Dantes who, upon his escape from prison, assumes the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo. He uses his newfound wealth to infiltrate his betrayers’ high-class Parisian society and wreak havoc among them. Through it all, Edmond Dantes believes his vengeful mission to be ordained by God; he believes himself to be the very hand of Providence sent to deal justice to those who had wronged him so many years prior.
Dantes’ questionable justification of vengeance aside, this book is excellent in terms of promoting biblical virtues of grace, love, and even forgiveness. Long into the book, Edmond has the chance to deal a death blow not only to Albert (his ex-fiancee’s son with her current husband) but also to Valentine (the daughter of the man who had knowingly imprisoned Dantes on false charges). Rather than doing this, however, he shows them mercy; he relents. At the end of the novel, Edmond actually enables these young lovers to marry happily, that which he was unable to do with his fiance Mercedes.
The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes, leaves his young friends without a good-bye, but he does write them a note, at the end of which he bids them to “wait and hope!”
These words are indeed, as Valentine refers to them, sweet and comforting words. And these words are the words that we Christians have: “wait and hope!” Acts 1:7-11 records:
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
We as Christians aren’t to “wait” doing nothing until the Lord’s return; rather, we are to live for him until his return. But we are certainly to expect and hope for this return. Peter writes under inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 2 Peter 3:11-13,
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Our waiting as Christians is not passive but active. We should follow the Lord wholeheartedly as we realize with great hope and expectation that one day God will create a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
As Valentine said to Albert concerning the Count of Monte Cristo’s improbable return, so I say to you concerning our Lord’s inevitable return: “Wait and hope!”