“So Neglect Becomes Our Ally”: Strategy and Tactics in the Chateau D’If in Kevin Reynolds’ The Count of Monte Cristo
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Though set 30 years after the invention of the Panopticon as conceived by English social theorist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the Chateau D’If, as a prison, functions in ways that are comparatively ancient. Predicated on concealment and sequestration as opposed to a dyad of visible/invisible, the carceral strategy of the Chateau D’If engenders angle morts or blind spots within the purview of its own carceral gaze. As a result, an enterprising prisoner incarcerated within the ostensibly inescapable isolated offshore island can tactically exploit said blind-spots—be they topographical, such as his physical placement within the prison itself, or praxiological, such as the negligence of his guards and overseers—to form alliances and gain knowledge. This relationship between a myopic carceral gaze, the architectural limitations of an island-fortress-prison, and the tactical exploitation of carceral blind spots is robustly explored in Kevin Reynold’s cinematic adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). This chapter aims to theorize the relationship between the negligence of carceral strategies inherent in prisons like the Chateau and the tactical exploitation thereof, not primarily in terms of escape, but rather, in the acquisition of knowledge in preparation for escape.
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