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The Count of Montecristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is a novel by the French author Alexandre Dumas, published in series in 1844–46 and in book form in 1844–45. The work, carried out during the time of the Bourbon Restoration in France, tells the story of an unjustly imprisoned man who escapes to take revenge

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Summary and Synopsis


The novel opens in 1815 when the pharaoh arrives in Marseille. The ship’s owner, Monsieur Morrel, learns of the young first mate, Edmond Dantès, that the captain died on the voyage and that Dantès took over.

The ship’s accountant, Danglars, is concerned that the pharaoh stopped at Elba, but Dantès explains that the captain left a package to be delivered to one of Napoleon’s marshals who is in exile with Napoleon on the island. Morrel makes Dantès the captain of the ship, much to Danglars’ chagrin.

Upon visiting his father, Dantès learns that a neighbor, Gaspard Caderousse, took most of his father’s resources to pay off a debt. Dantès then goes to see his fiancee, Mercédès, and finds her in the company of Fernand Mondego, who is in love with her.

After leaving, Mondego meets Danglars and Caderousse, and makes the decision to falsely accuse Dantès of treason. In a letter to the Crown Prosecutor, Danglars alleges that Dantès is a Bonapartist and is taking a letter from Napoleon to the Bonapartist committee in Paris.


Dantès is arrested, but the assistant prosecutor, Gérard de Villefort, discovers that Dantès is not a Bonapartist agent and is ready to release him. However, after learning that the young captain has a letter from Napoleon to Villefort’s father, who is a Bonapartist, he sends Dantès to If Castle, a prison on the island where he remains for many years.

One day, another inmate, Abbé Faria, arrives at Dantès’ cell through a tunnel he has been digging in an attempt to escape. Faria deduces that Danglars and Mondego framed Dantès and also why De Villefort keeps Dantès in prison. He spends a few years teaching Dantès, and they plan another escape attempt.

Faria tells Dantès about a hidden treasure on the uninhabited island of Monte Cristo and then dies. Dantès is sewn into the Faria shroud and thrown into the sea. He is released and rescued by a crew of smugglers. Later he finds the treasure in Monte Cristo.

Dantès then begins to take revenge on his long and unjust prison. He disguises himself as an Italian priest and visits Caderousse, who reports that Danglars and Mondego are wealthy and that the latter married Mercédès. Upon learning that Morrel has fallen in difficult times, Dantès secretly solves his financial problems.

Ten years later, in Rome, Dantès, who now calls himself the Count of Monte Cristo, manages to meet Albert, the son of Mondego (now the Count of Morcerf) and Mercédès. Albert is unhappily engaged to Danglars’ daughter.

Dantès later buys a house in Auteuil, on the outskirts of Paris. Later he tells Haydée, a Greek slave girl whom he bought, that he is now free but must keep the details of his birth secret.

After Dantès arranges for Danglars to lose his fortune, he organizes a dinner for the Danglars and the Villeforts; Maximilian Morrel (the son of Monsieur Morrel) and two convicts hired to play rich Italians are also present.

It is revealed that Mrs. Danglars was once de Villefort’s mistress and that the youngest convict is the son born of that union, whom de Villefort thought he had cast off as a baby.

Later, the account of Morcerf’s secret is also made public: he had become a right-hand man with Haydée’s father, Ali Pasha, and then betrayed him. He stole Ali Pasha’s fortune and sold Haydée and her mother as slaves. With this news, Mercédès and Albert abandon Morcerf and he commits suicide. De Villefort orders his wife, who has been poisoning family members to secure an inheritance for her son from a previous marriage, to poison herself.

She kills herself and her son, while De Villefort’s attempt to kill her young son is revealed in court, and he loses his mind. At Dantès’s command, the bandits capture Danglars and hold him for several days until he repents.

Dantès, with his full revenge, arranges for Valentine de Villefort and Maximilian Morrel to be together (they have been in love, but Valentine’s parents forbade their union), and Haydée declares her love for Dantès, to her great joy.

Genre: Fiction, adventure

639/5000It has tons of treasures, a hideout on a secret island, secret identities, duels, bloody executions, bandits, and smugglers galore, all topped with a healthy slice of revenge.

All this happens during a particularly tumultuous moment in the history of France: everything would not have happened without Napoleon’s attempt to regain power, so all the “historical” traps should be recognized. Furthermore, all the count’s fuss raises some very serious questions of morality, which force us to think of important things like destiny, free will, and justice.

Characters

  • Edmond Dantès: The protagonist of the novel. Dantès is an intelligent, honest and loving man who becomes bitter and vindictive after being accused of a crime he does not commit.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: the identity that Dantès assumes when he leaves prison and inherits his vast fortune. As a result, the Count of Monte Cristo is generally associated with a coldness and bitterness that comes from an existence based solely on revenge.
  • Lord Wilmore: The identity of an eccentric English nobleman that Dantès assumes when he commits acts of random generosity.
  • Abbé Busoni: Another of the false people of Dantès. The costume of Abbé Busoni, an Italian priest, helps Dantès gain people’s trust because the name connotes religious authority.
  • Mercédès: The beautiful and good girlfriend of Dantès. Although Mercédès marries another man, Fernand Mondego, she never stops loving Dantès.
  • Abbé Faria: Priest and brilliant thinker. He becomes the intellectual father of Dantès: during his many years as a prisoner, he teaches him history, science, art and many languages.

Analysis

Edmond Dantès takes justice into his own hands because he is appalled by the limitations of society’s criminal justice system. Social justice has allowed his enemies to escape from the cracks, remaining unpunished for the heinous crimes they have committed against him. Furthermore, even if the crimes of his enemies were discovered, Dantès does not believe that his punishment is true justice. Although his enemies have caused him years of emotional distress, the most they would be forced to suffer themselves would be a few seconds of pain, followed by death.

 Dantès intends to carry out divine justice where he feels that human justice has failed. He sets out to punish his enemies, as he believes that they should be punished: destroying all that is dear to them, just as they have done to him. However, what it learns, as it sometimes wreaks havoc on the lives of the innocent and the guilty, is that justice carried out by human beings is inherently limited.

The limits of such justice lie within the limits of human beings themselves. Dumas’s final message in this epic work of crime and punishment is that human beings must simply resign themselves to allowing God to reward and punish, when and how God sees fit.