Luke and I have been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for about six months now. It’s great in that romantic, historical novel from a certain age kind of way, told as they are unswervingly from the man’s perspective. (Remember, this is also the age where authors were paid by the word, hence why it’s taken us six months.) One thing we agree we should’ve been doing from the beginning is keep a tally of all the times a female character faints. Seriously, none of these women were designed to live. They’re a bunch of myotonic goats. Someone raises their voice slightly and the women drop like flies. Heaven forbid anyone mention blood, poisoning, murder or having an upset stomach.
Just for fun, I thought I’d do a Command+F search of the word ‘faint’ in the ebook version. I found these gems:
During a house fire: “She then returned to her room, calling for help as loudly as she could, when suddenly her window, which was twenty feet from the ground, was opened, a young peasant jumped into the chamber, seized her in his arms, and with superhuman skill and strength conveyed her to the turf of the grass-plot, where she fainted.” Chapter 33
“Most assuredly,” responded Madame de Villefort in the same tone. “As for me, so nervous, and so subject to fainting fits, I should require a Doctor Adelmonte to invent for me some means of breathing freely and tranquillizing my mind, in the fear I have of dying some fine day of suffocation. Chapter 52
My favorite: “Haidee’s nervous system is delicately organized, and she is peculiarly susceptible to the odors even of flowers — nay, there are some which cause her to faint if brought into her presence.” Chapter 53
“Here Madame Danglars, instead of being calmed by the soft picture, uttered a groan and fainted.” Chapter 63
Meanwhile, I took a closer look and noticed that the word appears by some male characters too. Great, I’m thinking. Equal rights! Not so fast.
It appears that men are only capable of “half fainting,” whatever that means.
(Photo of Adele from Vogue)