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Friday June 10 2005 08:28 IST

By Karmayogi

Mercedes was the fianc of Edmund Dantes, the hero of The Count of Monte Cristo. She was an orphaned 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 14 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 betrayed 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 life of her son. He agreed. Fernand later came to Dantes and found out that the Count was none other than Dantes of his village. Fernands old betrayals came to light and he killed himself.

Mercedes, who has by now learned of her husbands seamy side, left her place without taking any of Fernands 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 husbands 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 to him, a ships mate, 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.

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