The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Important Quotations Explained

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“[U]ntil the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,—‘Wait and hope.’”

This remark also appears in the final letter Monte Cristo leaves for Maximilian in Chapter 117. These words represent Monte Cristo’s final renunciation of his project of vengeance. Until now, he has considered himself God’s agent on earth, attempting to carry out the retribution that he believes God has appointed him to oversee. He has effectively placed himself on a par with God, unwilling to allow his mortal limits to prevent him from doling out divine justice. Yet doubt over Monte Cristo’s capacity and right to act as God’s agent has been building steadily ever since Edward’s unjust death and has finally resulted in a complete disavowal of the mission Monte Cristo has just completed. Here, Monte Cristo acknowledges that God is the only one who can act as Providence, the only force that can hand out people’s fates. Humans, rather than taking God’s task into their own hands, ought to simply “[w]ait and hope” that God does indeed eventually reward the good and punish the bad.