“Darling…has not the count just told us that all human wisdom is summed up in two words? – ‘Wait and hope.’”
It is with this parting wisdom that Alexandre Dumas closes his 19th-century seafaring tale, The Count of Monte Cristo, which takes readers on a vengeful journey across France, Italy, and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Today, we wish the French author a happy 214th birthday, and to honor his life and legacy, Course Hero is proud to unveil a stunning infographic illustrating Dumas’s classic adventure novel!
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The walk that changed literature
Sometimes, all it takes is a little fresh air from the outdoors to breathe life into an idea. For Dumas, it was a walking tour of southern France in 1834. The writer was researching locations for a piece of travel literature when, inspired by the island fortress Château d’If, the idea for an adventure novel suddenly came to mind.
This imposing island prison became the centerpiece for Monte Cristo, where the book’s protagonist Edmond Dantès is falsely imprisoned for 14 years. After he escapes by what seems to be divine intervention, he stumbles upon a fabulous treasure on the island of Monte Cristo and plots revenge on the men who betrayed him.
How wealth influenced Monte Cristo characters—and Dumas himself
Wealth and power are major themes in Monte Cristo—and most people in the novel (even Dantès) use their fortune for self-fulfilling reasons. Funny enough, this pursuit for the almighty dollar (er, franc) spilled off the pages of Dumas’s work and into his own life. The author reputedly enjoyed the commercial success of his work: he spent frivolously on extravagant vacations and eventually built a private home in France, which he named the Château de Monte Cristo. (The home serves as a museum today.)
Unfortunately for Dumas, all that spending caught up to him, and in 1851 he fled France to evade creditors. He continued writing while on the run, trying to pay back the money he owed, but he had little success.
When Dumas died in 1870, he was buried in a small cemetery in Puys, France. In 2002, however, his body was moved to the Panthéon in Paris, where he now rests among other literary greats, including Voltaire and Victor Hugo.
To learn more about the themes and motifs behind Dumas’s famed novel, as well as the friends and betrayers of his protagonist Dantès, check out Course Hero’s Monte Cristo infographic, and come back soon for the comprehensive study guide.