The Count of Monte Cristo By: Izabella Apodaca

The History of a Byronic Hero

A byronic hero is a variation of the traditional romantic hero that was normally recognized in literature before and during the Romantic Period. This new hero emerged with the characters created by an English Romantic poet named Lord Byron. His characters had characteristics that were a modified version of the traditional romantic hero, therefore a new type of hero was created to encompass all of the characteristics of this new form of hero.

Characteristics of a Byronic Hero

A byronic hero can encompass a wide range of characteristics. Some of these characteristics include: being very intelligent, ruthless, arrogant, depressive, violent, self-aware, emotionally tortured, traumatized, manipulative, spiritually doubtful, suicidal, susceptible to bursts of anger, and dedicated to pursing matters of justice over matters of legality. Not only are byronic hero's many of these characteristics, they also stay only loyal to themselves and their own individual values.

Edmond Dantés

Edmond Dantés is the protagonist in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. He goes through many highs and lows throughout this story that change his characters beliefs and values throughout his life. He is a very round character that displays his many different personality traits. Edmond Dantés is a dynamic character in this novel and a major byronic hero since he embodies almost all of the characteristics of a byronic hero.

Emotionally Tortured and Traumatized

Edmond Dantés is a byronic hero for many reasons. However, one of the main reasons he is a byronic hero is because he was physically and emotionally tortured and traumatized from his fourteen year imprisonment in the Château d'If.

"He was now thirty-three years old, as we have said, and his fourteen years of prison had greatly altered his face. He had entered the Château d'If with the round, smiling face of a happy young man who has made a good beginning in life and who counts on the future to unfold itself as a natural deduction from the past. All that was now changed. His oval face had lengthened; his smiling lips had taken on the firm lines of resolution; his eyebrows had become arched beneath a single thoughtful wrinkle; his eyes wore a look of deep sadness, with occasional flashes of dark hatred; his skin, which had been away from the sunlight for so long, had grown pale; the deep learning he had acquired reflected in his face by an expression of intelligent self-confidence" (85).

Edmond Dantés was emotionally tortured and traumatized throughout his entire imprisonment. This major event in his life caused his body to display how traumatizing this unjust imprisonment was for him. In the quote stated above, it explains how his emotional torture contributed to his physical appearance and current mental state after he had escaped from prison. The statement above explains how his entire appearance and personality has changed after he has been wrongly imprisoned. It conveys how he has now changed from a happy, optimistic individual, to a serious man who is now very depressed and has a deep hatred for those who have caused him this immense amount of pain and suffering. This quote explains how Edmond has been traumatized from his torture he went through while suffering in prison. Since, this quote displays that he has undergone an entire transformation from "light to dark" because he has been traumatized, it therefore demonstrates one reason why he is a byronic hero.

"Everyday he spoke of the immensity of the treasure, explaining to Dantés all the good a man could do for his friends in our modern times with such a fortune. At those moments Dantés' face would darken, for he remembered the oath of vengeance he had sworn, and he thought of how much harm a man could do to his enemies in our modern times with such a fortune" (72).

During the time of his imprisonment, Dantés befriended a man by the name of Faria. Faria explained to Dantés of a treasure he knew of and explained he was going to give this treasure to Edmond, because he believed him to be a non-biological son of his. In the quote stated above, the author explains the thoughts of Dantés as he is reminded of this treasure and fortune he could possess one day. It states that he wants to oppose the thoughts of Faria and instead of using this fortune for good, he wants to use it for punishment and revenge. It explains he wants to use this fortune to inflict the maximum amount of pain into the individuals that caused his life to be destroyed. This sudden shift in Edmond now changing into a man of evil and dark thoughts, displays his emotional torture that he has undergone while being in prison. He now has changed the values of his life and dedicated them to vengeance because he has been in so much emotional and physical pain while being in prison. Since, this quote displays that Edmond has undergone tremendous emotional torture, that has now caused him to resort to hatred and darkness, it displays that this is one reason why Edmond is a byronic hero.

Manipulative

Once Edmond escaped prison, he dedicated his life to revenge on those who had took part in his wrongful imprisonment. In order to carry out his revenge, he adopted many disguises that allowed him to get close to those people he was seeking revenge on. While in these disguises he manipulated many people into believing in his character or plan he was going to carry out at that time. This characteristic of manipulation is the second reason why Edmond Dantés is a byronic hero.

"Very good!' thought the count as he left. 'I've accomplished my aim: the Danglars' domestic peace is now in my hands and I'm about to win the gratitude of both the baron and the baroness at one stroke. I would have liked to be introduced to Mademoiselle Eugénie Danglars, but we have ample time ahead of us and that we can wait till later.' With this reflection he climbed into his carriage and returned home" (205).

In the quote above, Edmond is speaking to himself as the Count of Monte Cristo. He is reflecting upon the action he has just taken in order to become closer to the Danglars. At this time, the count has left Danglars and Madame Danglars to themselves with Madame Danglars enraged that the count is now in possession of her beloved horses. In the quote above the count is explaining that he has manipulated Danglars into selling him these horses, which will allow him to become closer to the Danglars as he now tries to solve the issue. His entire plan has been calculated to this point and he knows that once he continues with it, he will gain the trust of Madame and Baron Danglars. This quote then explains the counts calculated interest into becoming closer to the Danglars' daughter. Since, he has now planned out a manipulation to gain the trust of the Danglars, it displays that he embodies the second characteristic that makes him a byronic hero.

"He watched her as she gradually went to sleep, overwhelmed by the power of the narcotic he had just given her. Then he picked up her glass, emptied most of its contents into the fireplace so that it would appear that Valentine had drunk it, set it back down on the table beside her bed and disappeared through the library door after having taken one last look at Valentine, who was sleeping with the tranquility of an angel lying at the feet of the Lord" (427-428).

At this time in the novel, the count is helping Valentine escape her own murder that would be bestowed upon her by her stepmother. The count is helping a Villefort because it allows him to be closer to the Villeforts and he is saving Valentine for Maximilien. In the quote above the author is explaining how the count is manipulating the whole Villefort household into thinking Valentine is dead. He uses strategic pouring out of substances and placing of objects that will appear as if Valentine had been poisoned. He also gives Valentine a drug that will make her appear dead, however she will in reality be in deep sleep for many days. This calculation of his plan, as well as being in disguise, displays his personality trait of being highly manipulative. With this trait in his personality, he demonstrates that he hold the traits of a byronic hero.

Arrogant

As Edmond is in the disguises of his choice throughout the story, he displays the personality trait of arrogance. This personality trait is displayed in multiple disguises, however it is most displayed when he is the Count of Monte Cristo. Arrogance is one characteristic of a byronic hero, therefore making this the third reason why the character Edmond Dantés may be called a byronic hero.

"Monsieur Beauchamp,' interrupted the count, 'the Count of Monte Cristo is commanded only by the Count of Monte Cristo. I do as I pleases, and, believe me, it's always very well done" (373).

Currently, Monte Cristo is being told by Beauchamp that he must explain himself about his connections between Yanina and a Greek Girl. The count finds this very offensive because he believes he should not have to. The quote above explains how the count feels on regards to who is allowed to command him on what he should and is allowed to do. He clearly states that he is the only person who is allowed to command himself and that this commandment is very well done since it is done by himself. This statement specifically displays his arrogance because it demonstrates that he believes he is more superior and better than others. As this quote displays his arrogance, it clearly demonstrates that Edmond Dantés exhibits an additional characteristic of a byronic hero.

"Duels are fought with the sword or the pistol in France; in the colonies they use the carbine; in Arabia, the dagger. Tell Monsieur de Mocerf that, although I'm the insulted party, in order to be eccentric to the end, I'll leave the choice of weapons to him and that I'll except anything without question, even combat by drawing lots, which is always stupid. With me it's different, however: I'm sure to win" (373).

During this time of the story, the count has been challenged to a duel with Albert. In the quote above the count outlines to Beauchamp that he will allow Albert to select the weapons they will use. His reason for doing so is that he states he is sure to win regardless of the type of weapon. This statement displays his complete arrogance, pertaining to the battle, by implying that he is different then others because he is well trained in everything. This arrogance gives the count a complete confidence and makes the others question if Albert should risk fighting the count. Since this quote displays the arrogance of Edmond, it demonstrates that Dantés has another characteristic of a byronic hero.

Edmond Dantés is a byronic hero because he expressed the characteristics of emotional torture, manipulation, and arrogance. His suffering was ultimately abolished when he waited and hoped, and eventually experienced happiness for the remainder of his life.

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