(21) In-Class Essay: Count of Monte Cristo

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Essay Instructions:  Write a five paragraph essay on the Count of Monte Cristo using the prompt you are given during class. Upload to Schoology.

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In-Class Essay: Count of Monte Cristo (Final Draft)

One standout and recurring theme in The Count of Monte Cristo was the significance of family. Family should be built upon the framework of mutual trust, and not based on deceit and falsehood as it was in The Count of Monte Cristo. The characters Edmond Dantès, Fernand Mondego, and Gérard de Villefort exemplified the important influence that family relationships and friendships have on our development and approach to life. They play a key role in shaping our character, personal motives, and ultimately, the way we act and treat those around us.

From opposite ends of the social spectrum, Edmond and Fernand developed into two very distinct and unique characters who possessed contrasting outlooks on life. Before his experience with hardship, Edmond was a kind, simple-minded, honest, and loving young man who embraced life to the fullest. Although he was not as wealthy or privileged as his friend Fernand, the son of a Count, Edmond appreciated the little that he had. He faced every day with a smile and cherished whatever life threw his way. The fatherly love, pride, and acceptance that Edmond received from his father helped him grow into the warm and affectionate person he was. On the other hand, Fernand was a man whose main concern was to please and fulfill his own desires, regardless of the costs or measures required to achieve his satisfaction. His selfish approach to life hinted at a past in which he had been largely deprived of his father’s love and approval. The poor relationship that existed between Fernand and his father contributed to his bitterness and molded him into the selfish person he was. A powerful example of this from their childhood was when Edmond and Fernand both received gifts from their fathers for their birthdays. Whereas Dantès received only a whistle, Fernand got a pony. Even though the present Fernand received was without a doubt the superior gift, Fernand was furious that Edmond was happier with his whistle than he was with his pony. Fernand’s jealousy and obsessive nature hindered him from enjoying his own gift, and instead, he sulked over what he did not have.

People’s outlook and approach to life are largely influenced and crafted by their upbringing and relationships with those around them. Best friends since childhood, Edmond loved and trusted Fernand like the dear brother he never had. When Edmond encountered trouble, Fernand was the first person who he turned to and thought he could depend on. This innocent and trusting mindset was formed, in part, through the intimate and close relationship that Edmond probably had with his own father. Before he was betrayed and left for dead by his best friend, Edmond never had any reason to doubt or be suspicious of the intentions of others. This can be seen when he disobeyed the first mate’s orders in order to set off on a selfless mission to save his captain, and afterwards agreed to deliver Napoleon’s letter. Conversely, Fernand was a very egocentric and calculating person who tried to take advantage and capitalize on the misfortunes of others for his own benefit. When Fernand realized that the letter that Napoleon requested Edmond to deliver contained treasonous material, he decided to snatch the opportunity with both hands. Taking advantage of Edmond’s illiteracy, he turned his best friend in for treason with the intentions of taking Edmond’s fiancée for himself. He made this cold-hearted and self-centered decision without batting an eye. This conscienceless act of betrayal can once again be attributed to the lack of value that Fernand places on his relationships with others due to his own poor father-and-son relationship.

Villefort is another character who, because of his unhealthy relationship with his father, transformed into a heartless and ambitious man who had only his own interests in mind. The cold exchange of words between Villefort and Fernand is a case in a point. In the short but powerful scene from the movie, Villefort asked Fernand about his father’s condition, where Fernand distastefully replied, “Alive, unfortunately.” This was answered by the chilling response, “We share the same misfortune.” This disturbing scene illustrates the sour relationships that both characters have for their fathers, to the extent to which they wished their fathers dead. According to a renowned psychological study conducted in Australia, a large number of psychopathic and sociopathic cases result because of the absence of attention and appreciation that the person receives from others, usually people they look up to as father figures. This lack of recognition from others causes them to become more ambitious and to pursue other ways of acquiring the feelings of power and recognition that they feel they deserve. This strongly relates to Fernand and Villefort in The Count of Monte Cristo because the lack of recognition and attention that they received from their fathers drove them to turn into the characters they were. Villefort’s ambitions to become the chief magistrate of France was fueled by the desire to be recognized. When his father became a liability and stood in his path of achieving these ambitions, Villefort had him murdered. Likewise, Fernand was always driven by the desire for more. No matter what he had, he always longed for more.

Without mutual trust and love, it is impossible for people to live in harmony with one another. In the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès, Fernand Mondego, and Gérard de Villefort are powerful illustrations of the influential role that relationships have on our character development, motives, and the way we view and go about life.

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