Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Alexandre  Dumas

Devyani  Arora 

The Indian Independence Movement

Moral Absolutism in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

The “Indian Independence movement” is a term used to describe the efforts by different Indian leaders and their respective supporters as they led India in the fight for independence from British colonization. The primary methods of insurgency were violent resistance, civil disobedience, and political maneuvering. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Subhas Chandra Bose used the aforementioned techniques as they fought against the British. While Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah espoused the virtues of diplomacy and non-violent resistance, Bose believed that violent resistance was the most effective method of earning independence. In his own way, each of these leaders helped to bring India’s fight for independence to a successful conclusion. In 1947, the British colony was split into two independent states: India and Pakistan. Though Jinnah, Nehru, and Gandhi all made significant contributions to the Indian Independence Movement, because their strategies were more localized than Bose’s efforts, Bose ultimately contributed most to Indian independence. Just as the Indian independence movement’s leaders struggled with deciding which form of resistance was most effective, Alexandre Dumas’ characters struggle with discerning the moral choice. Dumas lived in nineteenth century France, a world where societal views on morality aligned closely with moral absolutism. Some actions such as murder were considered intrinsically evil, and some were considered permissible. The protagonist of The Count of Monte Cristo , Edmond, is a sailor who is arrested for crimes he did not commit. Upon escaping prison, Edmond learns he had been framed and discovers a fortune. He views the agency that his newfound money affords him as a signal that he should take revenge on those who framed him. Eventually, Edmond confronts the destruction his revenge has caused. His resulting inner turmoil revolves around whether or not his revenge has surpassed the wrongs he has suffered, for he realizes that those who hurt him did so to protect themselves. Through his characters, Dumas espouses a moral absolutism in which his characters are judged not by their intentions but by their actions, resulting in a system of karmic justice that Dumas implies is natural. Major Works Consulted :

Bose, Sugata. His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire . Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.
Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo . London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Hiro, Dilip. The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan . New York: Nation Books, 2015.
Luce, Edward. In Spite of the Gods . New York: Doubleday, 2007.
Photo Credit : “Order of Alexandre Dumas Books.” Order of Books .