Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is not a book filled with
The reader discovers the theme of the story as Dantes realizes
for himself that he cannot take the role of God.
Therefore there is little need for much symbolism.
Yet one significant event does have
metaphorical significance-Dantes' baptism of sorts when he is
thrown into the sea by the prison guards.
This event is truly a watershed experience for Dantes and the
It is at this time that Dantes changes to the Count of Monte
No longer is Dantes simply an innocent, young sailor hoping to
make it in the world.
Now he is a man grown hardened, bitter and distrustful, after
aging in his dark prison cell for fourteen years.
good in others and returning that good is not his goal; Dantes seeks
In this way, Dumas sets the scene for the rest of his novel.
The fascinating adventure story of the first few chapters has
now grown sour and becomes a tale of vengeance, trickery and deceit.
For it is this baptism which encourages Dantes to begin lying
for the first time in his life (seen when the merchant ship picks him
up and he lies about his identity).
Dumas also changes Dantes' character in terms
of reader perception. Following his baptism, Dantes is no longer the
clear-cut hero. He begins to use others for his own advantage--even
forcing them into suicide at times. Indeed Dantes' "swim"
has changed him, for better or worse.