The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 26–30

Another, and more meaningful, possible explanation for this name involves the bookends of the Sinbad story, which focus on a poor porter who envies Sinbad’s wealth and is dissatisfied with his own boring life. By the end of Sinbad’s story, which is filled with horrors and dangers, the porter is convinced his own life is not so bad after all. This change in attitude highlights a central idea in The Count of Monte Cristo that becomes increasingly important as the novel unfolds: the importance of appreciating what one has in life instead of lusting after what one does not have. Each of Dantès’s three enemies betrays him out of greed and ambition, giving in to lust for what he does not have. Danglars betrays Dantès to win the captaincy of the Pharaon, Fernand betrays Dantès to gain Mercédès for himself, and Villefort betrays Dantès to increase his own power. By using the name Sinbad the Sailor, Dantès tacitly rebukes these three men for their shortsighted greed.

The red silk purse, which holds Dantès’s gift to Morrel, serves as a physical symbol of the connection between good deed and reward. First used by Morrel to help save Louis Dantès, the purse is now used to save Morrel in turn, demonstrating that his kindness and generosity toward Louis are being repaid. However, Dantès’s use of the purse actually taints an otherwise pure act of altruism. By using the purse, Dantès reveals that on some level he wants Morrel to recognize him as the savior. We see the purse not merely as a simple symbol of the connection between reward and punishment but as a more complex embodiment of Dantès’s various motives in acting as a benefactor. Dantès has selfless gratitude for Morrel’s kindness but also a selfish desire to be recognized as the author of Morrel’s financial salvation.