Edmond: What do you want of me?
Mercedes: I want to be free of you… the way you obviously are free of me.Just a few answers from you, and I shall be gone forever.
Edmond: Ask your questions.
Mercedes: Where have you been?
Edmond: Thirteen years in the Chateau d’lf… and everywhere else you can imagine.
Mercedes: The Chateau d’lf for 13 years. Did you suffer? What happened afterward?
Mercedes: Why did you not come to me?
Edmond: Why did you not wait? You married the very man who betrayed…
She holds up her hand. He is suddenly speechless at the sight of her finger with the piece of twine tied around it like a ring, that Edmond put there years before.
Mercedes:I told you that night on the rocks, remember? It would never leave my finger. And it never has.
Mercedes: You know why.
Edmond: If you ever loved me… don’t… don’t rob me of my hate. It’s all I have.
Mercedes: Let it go, Edmond. Let it go. I don’t know what dark plan lies within you. Nor do I know by what design we were asked… to live without each other these 1 6 years. But God has offered us a new beginning…
Mercedes: Don’t slap His hand away.
Edmond: Can I never escape Him?
Mercedes: No. He is in everything. Even in a kiss.
She’s kisses him.
– The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), screenplay by Jay Wolpert, novel by Alexandre Dumas
The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Vengeance, suggested by Jon Raymond. Today’s suggestion by Jon.
Trivia: Jay Wolpert deliberately rewrote the Dumas story so that Mondego and Dantes started out as best friends; his logic was that it would be a ‘buddy’ film that turned sinister. Wolpert believed that when a friendship soured, the hate generated was both more terrible and more believable.
Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jon: “This is a pivotal scene in Edmond’s transformation from seeking vengeance to becoming human and accepting his past fate, and his new found success. Until this point he had been stripped of everything that mattered to him. Even though he regained riches and a friend in Jacopo, and now in Mercedes, he has no loyalty nor caring for anyone. He is focused relentlessly on vengeance. But Mercedes brings him to see the light. He cannot ignore her, in his face with her twine ring, evidence of her own suffering through the years. She melts him. Edmond had become so obsessed with vengeance that he would forsake his own happiness and shut out everyone and everything to carry it out, even himself. His vengeance was all he had left. It is all he was.
It seems interesting that vengeance was a strong theme in these early French related works, as in A Tale of Two Cities, or Les Miserables. It also lends itself well to dramatic story. A person filled with relentless vengeance makes for a very strong driving character, like a runaway train. It makes for a great plot to explain what made the character vengeful, what happens to the people around them, and what extremes they will go to. Perhaps this is what makes it classic, surviving all these centuries, seeming relevant even today. There is something to be said for writing that becomes classic, and what we can learn from it.
There is a sub-theme of God (opposing vengeance). In an earlier prison scene, Edmond’s mentor, the priest, Abbé Faria, speaks to him in another memorable moment:
Abbe Faria: Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”
Edmond Dantes: I don’t believe in God.
Abbe Faria: It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.
Later after he first encounters Mercedes and turns her away, Jacopo confronts him, again, to question his vengeance:
Edmond: If you ever presume to interfere in my affairs again, I will, I promise you, finish the job I started the day we met! Do you understand?
Jacopo: I understand you are mad.
Edmond: Mad? My enemies are falling into my traps perfectly!
Jacopo: Mad, your grace, for ignoring this: you have a fortune, a beautiful woman who loves you. Take the money, take the woman, and live your life! Stop this plan, take what you have won!
Edmond: I can’t.
Jacopo: Why not?… I’m still your man, Satara. I swore an oath I will protect you. Even if it means I must protect you from yourself. I’ll drive you home now.
This script is full of such classic scenes.
If you have a suggestion for this week’s theme, please click on Reply and post in comments. Thanks!