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The Count of Monte Cristo is primarily focused on a "man against man" conflict, albeit with the "divine guidance" of God.
Edmond Dantès is the protagonist of the novel, and may be classified as a "Byronic hero". A Byronic hero (from the writings of the 18 th century British poet Byron) is essentially a lonely, rebellious and brooding hero that does not possess "heroic virtue" in the usual sense. Instead, Byronic heroes have dark qualities which are usually supplemented by intelligence and self-respect. He will often be isolated from society in some way. The Byronic hero is moody or passionate about specific issues, is often arrogant, confident and may be a figure of repulsion as well as fascination.
In this sense, Dantès is the epitome of the Byronic hero, condemned to suffer alone in prison, emerging wiser and intent on revenge. To ensure his plans for revenge are carried out, he spends years learning everything about everything, and is finally fully confident in his abilities to punish his enemies. In the novel, Dantès is convinced that his quest for revenge is being guided by God and he will succeed in his plans, albeit not without feelings of guilt, which serve to render him still a sympathetic and likeable character.
There are three antagonists in this novel: Danglars, Fernand, and M. de Villefort. These three men will be responsible for betraying Dantès so that he is arrested and forgotten in jail, all in order to achieve their own ambitions and/or to appease their jealousy. When Dantès learns that these three men are responsible for his suffering in jail and his lost years, he will set out on a mission of revenge to punish these three men. Along the way, he will seek to punish evil wherever he finds it, and will therefore punish a number of people, although these three characters are those that initially give rise to Dantèsí betrayal and revenge.
The Climax of the novel occurs when the Count of Monte Cristo, after years of planning his revenge, arrives in Paris to carry out his laboriously detailed plans for vengeance. His enemies are all unaware of what is in store for them as the Count patiently and anonymously begins to destroy their lives and ensure they suffer as much as he suffered while in jail.
The novel ends on a happy note, in that the Count has accomplished his plans for revenge, he has punished those who are "evil", he has rewarded those who are "good", and he appears able to put his past misery and sufferings behind him and to begin to live life for himself. Until the end of the novel, the Count has lived only to punish his enemies, and had a difficult time caring for or liking anyone. Towards the end he feels his anger is appeased and he appears ready to let himself love and be loved again.