If you have trouble maneuvering your ship into port at Marseilles, steer yourself over to the master post.
I need a hero in two senses:
- A hero who can get me back on track with this read-along
- A hero in this story so I can have feelings about it
I don’t mean a hero I can “root for” (ugh, hate that phrase.) And I don’t mean the archetypal hero, like, an Odysseus type. I don’t need a hero’s journey and I don’t need Dantès to be more virtuous.
I need him to be wrong sometimes, to go too far. I need him to get what he wants and realize he wanted the wrong thing. I need him to have a fatal flaw.
I need him to have some passion, damn it!
I guess what I need is more of a Byronic hero – which ironically, Dumas makes allusions to, fairly often. But I don’t see Dantès that way at all, at least, not yet. He’s getting his revenge, but it’s all so cold and calculated, and he never missteps (again, so far.) I want him to set the world on fire – and himself, too. I want to know what’s driving him – love for Mercédès? Bitterness over his lost youth? Grief for his father? Drug addiction? Lust for Haydée? All these elements are there, but we’re never in Dantès’ mind enough to really feel any of it.
I’m reminded of, and missing, two particular heroes, who also came from very humble backgrounds, achieved great wealth and status, and tried to use that to get revenge:
- Heathcliff. Emily Bronte’s 200th birthday has brought out the opinion pieces, including this one that wholly misinterpret’s his appeal (and this rebuttal). Readers don’t love Heathcliff because of the things he does, we love him because those things tell us how passionate he is. Heathcliff wreaks revenge on those around him, but he hurts himself most of all.
- Gatsby. We know what he wants and we know he’ll never get it, no matter how much money he throws around. Hard not to feel, as the kids say, all the feelings.
Speaking of Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” I guess I’m waiting for the tragedy.
Anyone else off track? I’m getting there, though with the long weekend, I’m not sure I’ll get a post up for chapters 81-100 on Monday!
And tell me, what kind of hero do you like? Is Dantès doing it for you?