To anyone who has wanted to pay for their wrongdoing

Subject: To anyone who has wanted to pay for their wrongdoing
Date: 22 Feb 2017

In my high school English class, I was given the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The assignment was to find an issue in the book that I can connect to the real world and myself as well. If you haven’t read it, The Count of Monte Cristo is about a young man, named Edmond Dantes, who is having a great life at the beginning of the novel. Three men, who Dantes considered friends, were jealous of him and plotted against him. Dantes was sentenced to life in prison, and he was betrayed by another person in the process. While in prison, Dantes befriends a man named Faria. Dantes tells Faria how he ended up in prison, then Faria explains to Dantes the real reason why. After hearing that, Dantes wants to bring justice for himself. He develops an elaborate plan to escape and do just that.
The book led up to the issue of the limits of human justice. In the beginning Dantes was vengeful and mad. “I regret having helped you clarify your past and having told you what I did.” “Why?” “Because I’ve instilled in your heart a feeling that wasn’t there before: vengeance.” (p.48) Towards the middle of the book, though, he is still vengeful, but it doesn’t seem like he is as mad. I, who have also been betrayed, assassinated and cast into a tomb, I have emerged from that tomb by the grace of God and I owe it to God to take my revenge. He sent me for that purpose. Here I am." But, at the end of the book he starts to realize the problems with him bringing justice for himself. ‘The count did not answer. Mercedes had already gone before he came out of the deep and painful reverie into which his lost vengeance had plunged him. "How stupid I was," he said to himself, "not to have torn my heart out on the day I swore to avenge myself!"’(p. 315)
When I was younger I remember my sister would always blame things on me and I would get in trouble. I would get punished for something I didn’t do and I hated it. So, after this happening many times, I finally decided to “get” her back. I started with little things, then built my way up. I remember the last time I tried that I went too far and got caught. My parents realized all the things I had been doing, and I got in more trouble that one time than ever before. After that I never tried to get my sister in trouble, no matter what she did to me. It just wasn’t worth it.
After some looking around, I came across two major sayings/writings about this issue. The Bible, in Exodus 21:23, says to "give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". And the other being said by Martin Luther King Jr., "The old law of 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind." I think Dantes at the beginning had the mindset like the bible verse. He had to even the scale. Then he slowly starts to realize that he is effecting other people as well. People not originally planned. This starts to affect him. At the end of the book he has the mindset like MLKJ. He feels bad about going so far; that there is no end to what he can do to justify himself. He finally pulls back. These mindsets go hand in hand with my story as well. I was honestly surprised by it. When I was trying to even the playing field with my sister, it ended up really bad for me in the end. It did feel good returning the behavior, but I realized after I got in trouble that I should’ve stopped sooner. Yet, I took it too far.
I wrote this letter because it was assigned to me, so I showed how there are limits to human justice. In the book and in my personal experience, there was justice being exacted. But, when it’s taken too far there can be negative effects on the original “victim”. So that’s where the limits are from.
The real lesson to be learned is that if you’re going to bring justice for yourself. Keep in mind that Dantes and I both took it too far. It ended badly for us. Don’t let the same thing happen to you.