What elements of "The count of Monte Cristo" have not followed the typical pattern of a hero or villain?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No stock character, Edmund Dantes of "The Count of Monte Cristo" is a character of naivete who knows that there is evil but chooses to be unaware of it.  In an early chapter, he reponds to Danglars's question, "...are you anticipating trouble?  It seems to me you have everthing you can desire" by saying,

That is just what alarms me....I cannot help thinking it is not man's lot to attain happiness so easily.  Good fortune is like the palaces of the enchamted isles, the gates of which were guarded by dragons.  Happiness could only be obtained by overcoming these dragons, and I, I know not how I have deserved the honour of becoming Mercedes's husband.

Even with this premonition, Dantes does not anticipate the treachery of the three men who are instrumental in his becoming a political prisoner in the Chateau d'If.  There he suffers terribly, but meets the Abbe Faria who, in teaching him logic, leads Dantes to comprehend who his enemies truly are.  At this point, Dantes embraces the evil intention of wreaking revenge upon his enemies if he ever has the opportunity.

Of course, after Dantes escapes and finds the Abbe's treasure, he spends years learning about herbs and poisons  and devising his plan of revenge.  At this point, Dantes is a villain, yet at the same time, he repays the kindness of the shipmaker for whom he worked as a youth.  For, Morrel and his family are in debt, having lost two of his three ships, and Dantes secretly leaves them what they need to pay this debt.

Wrongly, Dantes feels justified in his revenge against Danglars, Ferdnand Mondego (the Count de Morcerf), and Monsieur de Villefort, the three men who were his nemesis even though he continues his acts of kindness to Maxillian Morrel and Valentine de Villefort.  However, he does not count on the consequences of this revenge.  Because her husband Ferdnand has been disgraced, Mercedes, his former fiancee, now leaves Paris and dashes any hopes that Dantes may have had to be with her.

In an act of expiation for his sins, Edmund Dantes, "Count of Monte Cristo" Dantes hopes to avert the suicide of Maxillian.  He brings the young man to a place where his love Valentine is, the young woman whose life Monte Cristo also saved.

He is calling you in his sleep, he to whom ou have entrusted your life is calling you.  Death would have separated you, but by good fortune I was near and I have overcome death!  Valentine, henceforth you must never leave him, for, in order to rejoin you , he courted death.  Without me you would both have died; I give you to one another.  May God give me ccredit for the two lives I have saved!"

Thus, by overcoming death, Dantes redeems himself and does the young people the good turn of saving their lives and teaching them to "Wait and hope."  A young innocent, who through circumstances of fate, is imprisoned and courts evil in his revenge, Edmund Dantes redeems himself later as he prevents other young innocents from losing their lives.  He is no villain, and certainly not a typical hero.

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The Count of Monte Cristo

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