In Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger) and The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas), the main characters both use deception to achieve their goals. Both main characters have different motives behind their actions and convey their lies in different ways. Regardless of the difference in characters, their primary reason for deception is that they despise society. While reading the two novels, it can be seen that Holden lies to himself to achieve his goals while Dantes lies to others to achieve his goals. The favourite, catch-all phrase of Holden, the main character of Catcher in the Rye, is phoniness.
He uses this to describe the superficiality, hypocrisy, pretension, and shallowness that he encounters in the world around him. He holds a greater amount of hatred towards people who believe themselves to be better than others. Phoniness, for Holden, stands as a symbol of everything that is wrong in the world around him and provides an excuse for him to withdraw in cynical isolation. His concept of phoniness largely relies on self-deception. Self-deception allows Holden to blame the rest of the world for all of his problems.
There are many examples in the novel that show how frequently he convinces himself of the shortcomings of others in order to defend himself. One is that he resents the fame and fortune of the acting career and therefore says that actors are all phonies. This resentment results in Holden’s hatred of movies. Holden comments that the actors don’t act like real people and that he can’t imagine why anyone would actually watch a movie for entertainment alone. “Besides, I’d been to the movies with Brossard and Ackley before. They both laughed like hyenas at stuff that wasn’t even funny.
I didn’t even enjoy sitting next to them in the movies. (Salinger 37) Additionally, Holden resents that he was kicked out of school, and responds by falsely concluding that the people attending the school and the school itself are phony. “Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has… ” (Salinger 4) As well, Ernie, the piano player at a nearby nightclub, plays exceptionally well. However, Holden convinces himself that there is something phony about the way he plays because he believes that Ernie must have too much arrogance to be admired.
He’s a terrific snob and he won’t hardly even talk to you unless you’re a big shot or a celebrity or something, but he can really play the piano. He’s so good he’s almost corny, in fact. I don’t know what I mean by that, but I mean it. ” (Salinger 80) Another example is that, Even though he believes in God, Holden has problems with organized religion. He explains that he can’t stand ministers because they sound so phony when they talk. “If you want to know the truth, I can’t even stand ministers. The ones they’ve had at every school I’ve gone to, they all have these Holy Joe voices when they start giving their sermons.
God, I hate that… They sound so phony when they talk. ” (Salinger 100) He uses all of these explanations to fool himself into thinking that he has no flaws. He makes himself think that the phoniness everybody exhibits is the cause of all his hardships. This can be seen because all along, he complains about the phoniness of others, while he is acting similarly to those who he has voiced his hatred for throughout the novel. In contrast with Holden, Edmond Danti?? s, the main character of The Count of Monte Cristo, lies to others to achieve his goals.
The concept of this novel, was that a man betrayed by those he thought of as friends, comes back to repay old debts and seek vengeance on those who had deceived him. In order to take his revenge, Edmond Danti?? s deceives his former friends using disguises and alternate identities. The lies he tells aren’t his revenge but the consequences of those lies affect those who hurt him in the first place. The deceptions also allow him to repay his debts anonymously, and to receive information about his past without raising any suspicion of his true identity and purposes.
There are many examples in this novel showing that the lies Edmond tells have a large impact on the characters he interacts with. Visiting Caderousse, he disguises himself as a priest. By using this disguise, Edmond learns that Mercedes has married Fernand and that all of his friends have betrayed him. “Then Edmond’s father died, as I’ve told you. If he’d lived, Mercedes might never have married another man, for he’d have been there to reproach her with her unfaithfulness. Fernand knew that. ” (Dumas 90) Danti?? , disguised as an English businessman, visits Morrel, who is approaching bankruptcy.
By lying about his identity, it allows Edmond to get all the information he needs, visit Morrel, pay back old debts, and make an old man happy. When all is done his anonymity remains intact. “In one compartment of the purse was the bill for two hundred and eighty-seven thousand five hundred francs. It was marked paid. In the other compartment was a diamond the size of a walnut :”(Dumas 108) Next, Edmond uses his persona of the Count to encourage Danglars to investigate Fernand’s past.
By using his Count of Monte Cristo persona, Edmond is able to inconspicuously investigate the lives of others. His revenge against Fernand is supposed to be the accusation of treason, however, when Edmond confesses his identity, Fernand commits suicide. “Just as the carriage was passing beneath the arch of the gate a shot rang out and dark smoke floated out through one of the bedroom windows, which had been shattered by the force of the explosion” (Dumas 328) Later, the Count hints that Andrea is an escaped convict and murderer.
Edmond still disguised from the rest of the city, betrays his friends to get revenge on those remaining who haven’t felt his vengeance. When Andrea confesses to being the son of Villefort, the son and wife of Villefort commit suicide. “And she fell to the floor. Villefort ran to her and seized her hand. She was dead. Maddened with horror, he stepped back to the doorway and stared at the corpse. “My son! ” he cried suddenly. ” (Dumas 401) He spends a lengthy period of time planning his revenge upon these people and in the end, realizes that he has gone too far.
He realizes that he has gone beyond the limits of rightful vengeance and that he can no longer say that he is working in accordance with God. The main method of deception used by Edmond was his use of disguises. He had disguises for all occasions and used them to remain anonymous in his good and evil deeds. After all is said and done, both characters realize the errors in their way. Holden realizes that running away from his problems is counter-productive while Edmond realizes that he has gone beyond what he has set out to do.
Both characters are extreme liars with only one variation; Holden was lying to himself in order to be happy while Edmond was lying to others to get revenge on the friends who had betrayed him. There are lessons to be learned from the approaches of both characters which can basically be summed up by saying that lying doesn’t pay in the end; Holden’s lies only served to confuse him further, not making him happier in the least while Edmond’s lies hurt those who he wanted to hurt, but affected the people who loved them. On the other hand, what good would it have done either of them to tell the truth the whole time?