…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Revenge Is Not Sweet

By Rex Goode


  • Alexandre Dumas
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • 1996, Random House, Incorporated
  • Unabrdiged hardcover ($25.00 US)

When I was a teenager, I had much bitterness over some of the very difficult things I faced as a young child. I had been abused and terrorized by several people.I had a wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Highums. Mrs. Highums had this way of being insistent on doing the work while being personally inspiring. During my freshman year, I was out of control. I frequently skipped physical education class, because I experienced a lot of abuse there from boys bigger than me, which was just about all of them.

Since Mrs. Highums’ class was immediately after P.E. class, I often did not sneak back into school in time for English. We were expected to read several books that year, but I was always behind due to my truancy.

Whenever Mrs. Highums saw me, she would ask why I had not been in class. I had many excuses.

One day, she asked, “What religion are you?”

I answered, “I’m LDS, you know, Mormon.”

Her face brightened and she said, “You know, Mormons are such wonderful people–so industrious and inventive. I never knew a Mormon who couldn’t be anything he wanted to be.”

I thought about that for a long time. It was true. Somewhere inside me, I knew I could make anything out of my life that I wanted, but the problem was, I was so caught up in the difficulties of my past and the fear of being abused.

After Mrs. Highums’ brief hallway lesson, I began to go back to class. I even went to P.E. class, even though I was afraid. In her class, she had just begun a unit on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

This French novel was abridged and translated into English. She was reading from the book in class and I got an idea of the correct pronunciation of the names. I started reading the book on my own, as was our assignment.

When I neared the middle of the book, I found out that my family was going to move to another city. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be in Mrs. Highums’ class anymore.

On one of my last days in that school, I was walking down the hall and overheard a conversation between Mrs. Highums and another student. She was saying, “You know, Jews are such wonderful people–so industrious and inventive. I never knew a Jew who would couldn’t be anything he wanted to be.”

I finally figured Mrs. Highums out. She was right. Anyone could choose to be whatever he wanted. Mrs. Highums just liked to personalize that message.

The main character of The Count of Monte Cristo is Edmond Dantes. Edmond is a sailor in love with the beautiful Mercedes. He is due to inherit some money and has been set up to be a pawn in the struggle to bring Napoleon back into power.

Out of envy, lust, greed, and a desire for power, three men conspire to get Edmond out of the way. One wants his fiance’, another wants his money, and the other wants to make a name for himself as a prosecutor. Edmond is falsely accused of being in league with Napoleon, who is exiled to the Isle of Elba. Edmond is imprisoned in the notorious Chateua D’If where he spends many years.

Eventually, Edmond escapes and finds a large fortune. He buys himself the title of The Count of Monte Cristo and proceeds to exact his revenge on his now powerful malefactors.

Through his efforts, lives are changed forever and he seems to become the hand of retribution for more than just those who abused him.

For anyone who has ever wanted to get even, Edmond might seem like quite a hero, but there is an emptiness in his efforts. He finds no satisfaction.

My family moved away, but I took my small abridged paperback copy of The Count of Monte Cristo with me.

I continued to read it. As I did, I began to realize how useless a grudge can be. Life without forgiveness was miserable. Most of all, I began to realize that my lack of forgiveness for those who had harmed me was at the root of my own troubled life. In a new city, unfamiliar with a new school’s locker room, I started skipping class again. I remember sitting in a park at a picnic table, under a tree, reading about the adventures of Edmond Dantes, when I should have been in class.

At least it was different than my former activities when I was skipping class. I had really started to desire to change my life.

By the time I finished The Count of Monte Cristo for the second time, we were moving again.

In the next city, I started going back to school. We had rented a house far away from town and from other people, so I had nothing to do at home but read. I read I, Claudius and Claudius the God, both by Robert Graves; Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell; The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas; and The Three Musketeers also by Alexandre Dumas.

One day, while looking at the city library for another book to read, I saw a very large, thick book. It was The Count of Monte Cristo but it was huge. I opened it up and saw that it was an unabridged version.

The thought that there was more to the story than I had originally read thrilled me, so I checked it out. From the moment I picked it up until I was done, I read and read it, taking only a few brief breaks.

Through those weeks after having read the unabridged version of my then favorite book, a change came over me. Gone was the ever-present desire to abuse those who had abused me. With that desire also went the fear. Like Edmond Dantes, I began to see the futility of hatred and anger. I didn’t want to waste my life, like he had, in harboring the toxic desire for vengeance.

We can find peace through forgiveness and happines through moving on with our lives. God gives us so many opportunities to do good. Why waste our blessings on getting even? The best revenge is to turn out well when everyone batters you into believing it isn’t possible.

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One Response to “Revenge Is Not Sweet”

  1. Springs Of Water » Have Patience With Me said:

    […] it in that context, it confirms something I’ve long believed (see Revenge Is Not Sweet). I’ve often thought about how the Lord ties his forgiveness of our sins to how often we […]

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