This is by far one of the best chapters of The Count of Monter-Cristo. Read Chapter 17. The Abbe’s Chamber. or, the French version, La chambre de l’abbé.
Here’s a quote from the chapter:
“What are you thinking of?” asked the abbe smilingly, imputing the deep abstraction in which his visitor was plunged to the excess of his awe and wonder.
“I was reflecting, in the first place,” replied Dantes, “upon the enormous degree of intelligence and ability you must have employed to reach the high perfection to which you have attained. What would you not have accomplished if you had been free?”
“Possibly nothing at all; the overflow of my brain would probably, in a state of freedom, have evaporated in a thousand follies; misfortune is needed to bring to light the treasures of the human intellect. Compression is needed to explode gunpowder. Captivity has brought my mental faculties to a focus; and you are well aware that from the collision of clouds electricity is produced—from electricity, lightning, from lightning, illumination.”
“No,” replied Dantes. “I know nothing. Some of your words are to me quite empty of meaning. You must be blessed indeed to possess the knowledge you have.”