The Count of Monte Cristo
cause of imprisionment"It drives me to
"Do you, then, love
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
"What 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."
found already. Pen, ink, and paper," muttered Fernand.
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."
"No; captivity has subdued me - I have
been here so long."
"So long? - when were you arrested, then?" asked
"The 28th of February, 1815, at half past two in the
"Today is the
30th of July, 1816. Why it is but seventeen
"Only seventeen 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
No country can say it saw my
God alone knows what country will see me
I adopt all
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
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 arrests me.
I have only two adversaries
- I will not say two conquerors, for with
perseverance I subdue even them, - they are time and distance.
There is a third,
and the most terrible - that is my condition
as a mortal being.
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."
"I say, sir, that
with the 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
"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 am he whom you also
condemned to starvation, and who yet
forgives you, because he hopes to be
forgiven - I am Edmond
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
"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.
It is not enough
to say, with the 18th-century "reformers," that "humanization" and "progress"
explained and justified this radical change in the penal system.
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 authority.
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.
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
back to stacks
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