As Rich said yesterday, "I've been a big Fry fan for a while, too, and I was fascinated at the things he revealed about himself by even being able to write Ned's years on The Island the way he did." I think this is exactly why I found this section of the book so interesting.
The pages describing Ned's 10-year solitary confinement, with only Rolf and Dr. Mallo to 'talk' to, were like a little peek into Ned's (or Fry's?) mind. His struggle to remember little details from his life like the name of the Von Trapp family or the capital of India -- such seemingly ordinary things -- became a frightening obsession for him. Fry's use of such trivial details was what made these pages so fascinating for me, as I would think these would be the things I might obsess about if I were in Ned's shoes.
And then Ned meets Babe, and its as if Ned is "reborn" in a sense. Babe takes the time to teach him new languages, new philosophies, and new ways to think. Through his education and his discussions with Babe, he becomes a different person than he was.
He slowly becomes overwhelmed by his desire for revenge. At one point Babe says to him, "I don't like to see you thrashing your engine like this. There is nowhere to take it. It can only burn you up." And it did indeed burn him up.
While I was glad at first when Ned escaped from the island and began to plot his revenge against Oliver, Ashley, Rufus, and Gordon, once he started to ruin his 4 foes, I didn't enjoy it. I didn't want him to end up with Portia by the end of the story (even in the middle, I was kind of hoping they would end up together), and I knew that the best thing for him was to return to the Island at the end.
Since I've never read the Dumas original of CoMC, I can't comment or compare. I've seen some of the film versions of the story (yes, I pictured Richard Harris as Babe), but I can't really remember how any of those mediocre movies ended...does Edmond return to his prison?
How did you feel about Ned's transformation on the Island? What did you think about his final decision to return?