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793. Mercedes

Mercedes was the fiancée of Edmund Dantes, the hero of The Count of Monte Cristo. She was an orphan Catalan girl of Marseilles. Dantes was falsely imprisoned. Fernand, Mercedes' cousin, persisted in courting her who had given her heart to Dantes. After about a year, Fernand lied to her, saying that Dantes had died in prison. She married Fernand. The fisherman Fernand rose to become a Cabinet Minister in Paris. They had a son Albert. After fourteen years, Dantes escaped from prison, acquired wealth and culture, and came back to France. He looked for her. Finding out that she had married his very rival who had heinously berayed him, Dantes was in extreme despair. In Paris he was the foremost citizen. Inadvertently, Albert challenged Dantes to a duel. That brought Mercedes to Dantes to plead for the dropping of the duel. He agreed. Fernand came to Dantes to challenge him on behalf of the son and there he found out that the ‘Count' was none other than Dantes of his village. Fernand's old betrayals came to light and he killed himself.

Mercedes, who now learned of the seamy side of her husband, left her place without taking any of Fernand's wealth and went to live in Dantes' childhood house in Marseilles. She was brave, bold, idealistic and pure to give up that wealth and status in favour of her loyalty to Dantes. Though she was pure, she was a disappointment to Dantes. He would have expected her to pine for him all her life and live a lonely life cherishing his loving memory. She had persevered for a year but not longer. Her pretty face and loneliness made her vulnerable and she accepted the security of marriage with her cousin who loved her. In her situation, it was not only understandable and pardonable, but noble and magnificent to give up her husband's wealth. Look at Mercedes from Dantes' point of view. His heart was totally after her. He was engaged to marry her. On the eve of his marriage with her he was treacherously betrayed and sent to prison. He starved and tried to kill himself. One year later she forgot him, and married Fernand. Just then Faria entered Dantes' life, solved the riddle of his imprisonment, gave him knowledge of the highest level and added great wealth.

Dantes lived for Mercedes, he lived in her. She left him, accepting the false information of his death. His love for her brought him betrayal, prison and suicide. She gave him up and he got mental freedom, knowledge and wealth. Till the end, the one thing he wanted was her. She was the source of great misfortune for him. All the good in life came to him after she moved away. Mercedes was a good girl. She was human. His strength and goodness was almost divine. The one thing he longed for was Mercedes who was his utter ruin. It is unbelievable and baffling. A Princess of Greece whom he had discovered enslaved by an enemy was bought and raised by him like a daughter. Before the duel, he wrote his will in her favour. She tore it up and said she loved him as a man. Mercedes moving away from him brought him, a shipmate, a born Queen with a golden heart of devotion. He longed for Mercedes and our sympathies are with her. Mother says Dumas had life knowledge. It is subtle knowledge of life at its deeper foundations. Man is utterly attracted to that which will utterly ruin him.

story | by Dr. Radut