The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 47–53

Summary Chapters 47–53

The Morrel family has an enormous influence on Monte Cristo’s estimation of humanity as a whole. Prior to meeting the Morrels, Monte Cristo believes that no human being is capable of feeling pure and true gratitude. He pessimistically announces to Franz and Albert that “man is an ungrateful and egotistical animal,” then disdainfully remarks to Peppino, whose life he has saved, “you have not then forgotten that I saved your life; that is strange, for it is a week ago.” Seeing the sincere and heartfelt thankfulness of the Morrels, however, Monte Cristo admits that Lord Wilmore would appreciate this gratitude and be “reconciled to mankind.” Lord Wilmore is, of course, just another of Monte Cristo’s aliases, and this statement is really an admission of Monte Cristo’s own change of heart. It is Monte Cristo who is “reconciled to mankind” after he sees the Morrels provide such incontrovertible proof of humankind’s capacity for gratitude.

Equally moving to Monte Cristo is the Morrels’ complete satisfaction with their lives. Though hardly wealthy, they consider themselves enormously rich and choose not to pursue any further wealth, as they know that doing so would require them to be apart more often. Monte Cristo is shocked to see people so perfectly content in their daily existence, and he takes the Morrels as proof that happiness is determined more by attitude than by absolute circumstances. In their gratitude and satisfaction, the Morrels demonstrate humanity’s capacity for goodness, which challenges Monte Cristo’s condemnation of mankind as an “ungrateful” and generally vile species.