The Readiness Is All

“If it be now, ‘tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all.”

(Hamlet, Act V Scene II)

These lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet are spoken by Hamlet after he accepts an invitation to a duel from Laertes, which both Hamlet and Horatio quickly recognize as a trap. Up to this point in the story, Hamlet has finally resolved to move past his grief and prepares to exact his revenge on others. Horatio insists that his friend reject the invitation, but Hamlet has finally realized the meaning of life and God’s role in it. He accepts the challenge, blatantly willing to face his destiny.

In a general sense, this quote reminds readers that it is always better to be prepared for anything that comes their way, whether it be good or bad. At some point in everyone’s lives, people will find themselves either stuck in a desperate situation or faced with a difficult choice. As this quote implies, it is always better to be prepared than not.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, the main antagonist Edward Dantès escapes from prison, where he was wrongly imprisoned for a crime he was framed for. Dantès happens upon a large fortune that was passed on to him by a late priest he had met during his time in prison. Fast-forward thirteen years from the day he was sent to the Chateau d’If, Edmond Dantès has now assumed the title of the Count of Monte Cristo, after the island where he found his treasure. He begins to formulate plans for revenge and to reward those who have either contributed to his imprisonment or who have done nothing but good since his leave. However, with such elaborate plans comes much patience. Dantès steadily carries out his scheme over a long stretch of years, seeing to it that whomever he chooses to be his next target will be sure to carry out his plan appropriately.

As a person who has literally seen his life flash before his eyes, Edward Dantès had lost all hope in escaping prison once he was torn from his innocent life and thrown in the Chateau d’If. In context, the statement “the readiness is all” takes on a deeper meaning for Hamlet because when he says this, Hamlet is primarily referring to the subject of death itself. By accepting Laertes’ challenge, he his preparing for his own death. As it is implied, if you wait for death to stroll up onto your doorstep, it may never come. On the other hand, if you expect death to be a far-off phenomenon, it may arrive more suddenly than you expect.

By using the alias of Count of Monte Cristo, the people of Dantès’ former life would not recognize the man they had betrayed. Thus, he would be able to deliver a swift and sudden surprise to the unbeknownst. As the executor of these plans, Dantès is aware that in order to have his plan run smoothly he must be willing to wait for the right moment after he has accomplished what needs to be done beforehand and prepare for any complications that may arise. With this, Hamlet’s proclamation “the readiness is all” can surely be denoted as the motto for Edmond Dantès success.



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