Fernand demonstrates that hope can be an engine fueling acts of wanton and selfish cruelty as well. Ironically, this would also become a significant dimension of the hope harbored by the Dantes himself. While there was a portion of his imprisonment in which the hope of young Dantes helped to sustain him with notions of escape and freedom, he still remained frustratingly uncertain about the factors which placed him in prison to begin with. It was not until the abbe Faria helped Dantes to unwind the details of the conspiracy against him that a transformation of his hope occurred. Here, the optimistic hope that guided the young Dantes to dream of freedom became a far more sinister hope, from which would be forged the Count of Monte Cristo himself.
Dumas cites the exact moment of transformation, engaging the abbe and Dantes in a conversation about the role played by Villefort in his condemnation. When the deception and self-interest that conspired to throw his life away have become apparent, he retreats into this revelation. As Dumas describes, "during these hours of profound meditation, which to him had seemed only minutes, he had formed a fearful resolution, and bound himself to its fulfillment by a solemn oath." (p. 140)
This oath, from which he would ultimately devise his vengeance upon his conspirators, would become the seedling for a new and altogether darker kind of hope. Quite to the point, the abbe immediately senses the transformation in his young companion and expresses regret that a new desire has been instilled in the once innocent Dantes. But quite certainly, this transformation, the reader presumes, would already have been underway as a product of his incarceration. Thus, whether this newly instilled hope manifested as the lightness of youth was a defined feature of this hope. But the Dantes who descended into fantasies of a perfect revenge had learned to wait, to enrich his hope in this patience. So much was this the case that his plot for vengeance would itself stretch across years of meticulous planning, of ingratiating himself as this transformed man into the society that should have been his, of carefully and calmly laying out the pieces of his retribution without even a hint of passion, distress or even personal investment. The years spent laying in involuntary wait, channeling hope into incalculable precision, taught the Count how to execute a plan in painstaking detail without ever betraying himself to his anger.
So in the resolution, when the Count is essentially an empty man whose exhaustive hope for revenge has been satisfied, he can only aspire to wish for the best that hope can offer for the young and just Maximilian. In this figure, the Count glimpses at a younger version of himself, an ambitious Edmond Dantes still with the optimistic hope of life ahead of him. While it is clearly too late for the Count of Monte Cristo to find this type of optimism for himself, he does still harbor a hopeful sentiment for the younger man and his family. With that, Dumas delivers a compelling examination of hope, which perhaps more than jealousy and more than revenge, is the fabric that connects all the characters, good and evil, in the text.
Dumas, A. (1998). The Count of Monte…
Though of questionable morality, Dantes' eventual desire to succeed in achieving revenge is instilled and made feasible by his mentor's guiding hand and by the hope which is introduces into him. And it is only in Faria's death that his teachings begin to manifest as aspects of a real future, not for the impertinently youthful Dante's, now dead after year's of captivity, but for the inexorably patient and newly emergent Count