The Count of Monte Cristo
"The practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been,
in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." -
Alexander Hamilton"It drives me
to despair," said Fernand.
"Do you, then, love
"As long as I have known her - always."
"And you sit there, tearing your hair, instead of seeking to remedy
your condition; I did not think that was the way of your people."
would you have me do?" said Fernand.
"How do I know? Is it my affair? I
am not in love with Mademoiselle
Mercedes; but for you, in
the words of the gospel,
seek, and you shall find."
"I have found already. Pen, ink, and paper,"
"The honorable, the king's
attorney, is informed by a friend of
the throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantes, mate of the ship Pharaon,
arrived this morning from
Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by
Murat with a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the
Bonapartist committee in Paris. Proof of this crime will be found on arresting
him, for the letter will be found upon him, or at his father's, or in his cabin
on board the Pharaon."
captivity has subdued
me - I have been here so long."
"So long? -
when were you arrested, then?" asked the inspector.
"The 28th of
February, 1815, at half past two in the afternoon."
"Today is the 30th
of July, 1816. Why it is but seventeen months."
months," replied Edmond Dantes. "Oh, you do not know what is seventeen months
in prison! - seventeen ages rather, especially to a man who, like me, had
arrived at the summit of his ambition - to a man, who, like me, was on the
point of marrying a woman he adored, who saw an honorable career opened before
him, and who loses all in an instant -
who sees his prospects destroyed, and is ignorant of the fate of his affianced
wife, and whether his aged father be still living! Seventeen months captivity
to a sailor accustomed to the boundless ocean, is a worse
punishment than human crime
ever merited. Have pity on me, then, and ask for me, not
intelligence, but a trial; not
pardon, but a verdict - a trial, sir, I ask only for a
trial; that, surely, cannot be denied to one who is accused!"
after escaping "Yes, monsieur, I believe so; for until now, no man has found
himself in a position similar to mine. The dominions of kings are limited
either by mountains or rivers, or a change of manners, or an alteration of
My kingdom is bounded only by the limits of the Earth, for I
am not an Italian, or a Frenchman, or a
Hindu, or an American, or a
Spaniard - I am a cosmopolite.
No country can say it saw my birth.
God alone knows what country will see me die.
I adopt all
customs, speak all languages.
You believe me to be a Frenchman, for I
speak French with the same facility and purity as yourself. Well, Ali, my
Nubian, believes me to be an Arab; Bertuccio, my steward, takes me for a Roman;
Haidee, my slave, thinks me a Greek.
You may, therefore,
comprehend, that being of
no country, asking no protection from any government, acknowledging no man as
my brother, not one of the scruples that arrest the powerful, or
the obstacles which
paralyze the weak, paralyzes or
have only two adversaries - I will not say two conquerors, for
with perseverance I subdue
even them, - they are time and
is a third, the most terrible - that is
my condition as a mortal
This alone can stop me in my
onward career, before I have attained the
goal at which I aim, for all
the rest I have reduced to mathematical terms.
What men call the
chances of fate - namely, ruin, change, circumstances -
I have fully anticipated, and
if any of these should overtake me, yet it will not overwhelm me."
say, sir, that with the your eyes fixed on the social organization of nations,
you see only the springs of the machine, and
lose sight of the sublime workman who
makes them act; I say that you do not recognize before you and around you any
but those office holders whose commissions have been signed by a minister or
king; and that the men whom God has put above those office holders, ministers,
and kings, by giving them a mission
to follow out, instead of a post to fill - I say that
they escape your narrow,
limited field of observation."
"I am he whom you sold and
dishonored - I am he whose betrothed you prostituted - I am he upon whom you
trampled that you might raise yourself to
fortune - I am he whose
father you condemned to die of hunger - I am he whom you also condemned to
starvation, and who yet forgives
you, because he hopes to be
forgiven - I am Edmond
"Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my
heart, and never forget that
until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human
wisdom is summed up in these two words, - Wait and
Edmond Dantes, Count of Monte Cristo
Alexander Dumas, French serial author
"Corporal punishment used to be
carried out in a businesslike fashion. Bodies were branded, amputated, wrenched
apart. From the stake to the scaffold, from the pillory to the gibbet, physical
suffering was produced with elaborate theatricality as an example to all. Care
was taken that no one should be unaware of it. All that came to a sudden end in
the second half of the 18th century.
The monotonous tumbling of locks
and the shadow of the cell block have replaced the grand ceremonial of flesh
and blood. The condemned culprit's body is concealed rather than being placed
on exhibition. We no longer want to cause the criminal pain; we want to train
him; we want to reeducate his "spirit."
The change took place
throughout Western civilization in less than a century. The Middle Ages had its
prisons and jails but it was unfamiliar with anything resembling the rigid
system of regimented, fastidious detention that developed between 1780 and 1820
as Europe and the New World became covered with penitentiaries.
not enough to say, with the 18th-century "reformers," that "humanization" and
"progress" explained and justified this radical change in the penal system.
The shock of corporal punishment and the silence of reclusion are not
simply two isolated and opposed phenomena; nor are their differences only on
the surface. They stand for a change from one kind of justice to another,
a profound change in the organization of
Under absolute monarchy,
the criminal defied the authority of
the king, and the authority
crushed him and dramatically reminded everybody of its unlimited power. For
the theoreticians of the Enlightenment, someone who committed a crime broke the
contract that bound him to his fellows. Society put him aside and reformed him
by carefully regulating his every action and every moment of his life in
Prison means a rigorous regulation of space, because the guard
can and must see everything. It is also the rigid regulation of the use of time
hour by hour. Finally, it involves regulation of the slightest bodily movements
or change of position.
Prison is not unique. It is positioned within
the disciplined society, the society of generalized
surveillance in which we live.
"What is so
astonishing," Foucault asks, "about the fact that our prisons resemble our
factories, schools, military bases, and
hospitals - all of which in turn
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