Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Classics Challenge: Classic Characters

The February prompt from November's Autumn looks at the characters in the classics that we're reading.  I actually hadn't started one for 4 January so this is my first post for the challenge.  

This month, the focus is on CHARACTERS. 

I've been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for...well, for most of February so far, actually.  If you've read this one, you'll know that there are a lot of characters to choose from, although the obvious choice is the title character.  I thought I'd dodge the obvious and instead go for Caderousse.  



Level 1:  What are your first impressions of them? Find a portrait or photograph that closely embodies how you imagine them.

Caderousse is one of those characters that, as soon as you meet them, you just know shouldn't hang around with anyone that might lead him astray.  Jealous of Edmond Dantes' success, Caderousse is drowning his sorrows with the even more jealous Danglars.  

First impressions?  Weak and frustrating. There are at least a few opportunities for Caderousse to help Edmond and either chooses to remain ignorant or is manipulated by Danglars into letting all of them pass by.  Obviously, there would be no story if it weren't for Caderousse's cowardice so that's one reason why I've chosen him.  

A picture:  There are a huge number of TV and film adaptations of this book, I had a quick look to see whether any of the actors that had played Caderousse matched up to how I imagined him.  As it happens, this is Caderousse as played in a French adaptation that matches up nicely to my image of him.


Level 2:  How has the character changed? Has your opinion of them altered? Are there aspects of their character you aspire to? or hope never to be?

**This part will be based on my thoughts as I approach the middle of the book - watch out for spoilers, please!! **

After escaping the Château D'If, Edmond's a touch aggrieved about spending his youth locked up with only an elderly monk for company and scraps to eat.  Revenge is the name of the game for Monsieur Dantes.  Caderousse is impoverished, unhappily married and riddled with guilt.  When Dantes first happens across him, I was all "Ha - that's what happens when you abandon your friends when they need you most!".  

As time goes by, thought, I actually find myself feeling sorry for him!  The choices that he made were consistently horrendous but he knows that.  Compared with other characters that did stand by Dantes (and are ruined as a result), I find myself wondering whether it's better to at least try and defend those that need defending, even though it might not do any good, or whether it's better to just be there for them when you can do something effective.  Obviously, everybody would like to think that they would make the best choices because ultimately you never know whether your efforts will work or not.  

I suppose the difference between Caderousse and other characters that try to help after the plot to destroy Dantes has played out is that Caderousse could have stopped events ever unfurling.  So he is more culpable than most but, I suppose, has suffered more too.  Karma, maybe?

Oh, and perhaps it's already clear but NO, I do not want aspire to be gutless and betray my friends.  Shocking, I know. 

I'm only about half way through this so I have plenty more characters to meet or reacquaint myself with.  Characters is one of the things that Dumas does best so if that's what you're into, you'll love The Count of Monte Cristo.