Why is "The Count of Monte Cristo" considered a classic?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A classic is a novel with a universal theme that has lasted the test of time. In addition to being timeless, its appeal is to various ages as it can be read on different levels. These criteria are met by Alexandre Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo."

While the theme of Dumas's novel appears at first to be revenge and can be read as such, the astute reader will perceive that Edmund Dantes does find redemption through his love for the Morrel family and his charity. Either theme, of course, is universal. The action of the plot is interesting to readers of all ages; young readers are intrigued with the imprisonment of Dantes, his escape, and discovery of a buried treasure. Then, his return to wreak justice on his enemies is also exciting. The development of character makes them come to life for young readers while more mature readers find interest in following the destruction of them by the Count as he cleverly uses their own flaws as tools for their demise. Of course, a good love story is a pleasure to everyone, and there are a couple of these in this novel. And, for the history buff, there is the setting of the 100 days in which the king is restored after Napoleon has been deposed.

"The Count of Monte Cristo" has all the elements of a classic: universal theme, great characters, intriguing plot, interesting setting, and a timeless (Romantic) point of view, all written by an accomplished writer.