Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Edmond Dantès, a competent and well-liked first mate, takes over command of the Pharaon after the ship’s captain dies. The ship sails safely into Marseilles harbor in 1815. The pleasant, unassuming young man is unaware that enemies surround him. M. Danglars, the agent of the ship’s owner, M. Morrel, is jealous of Morrel’s affection for Edmond and covetous of the young sailor’s impending appointment as captain of the Pharaon. A fisherman, Fernand Mondego, wishes to wed Mercédès, who is betrothed to Edmond.
Danglars and Fernand, under the guise of a jest, compose a note accusing Edmond of conspiracy. They write that Edmond, in carrying out the last orders of his captain, had unwittingly conveyed a letter to the Bonapartist committee in Paris, which is trying to restore the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte to power. Caderousse, a drunkard, witnesses the writing of the note, but keeps silent out of cowardice. On his wedding day, Edmond is arrested and taken before an ambitious deputy king’s attorney named M. Villefort, who, to protect himself from association with his Bonapartist father, Noirtier—implicated in the letter Edmond carries—has Edmond secretly imprisoned in solitary confinement within the dank dungeons of the imposing Château D’If.
Napoleon escapes from Elba to reign briefly again, but Edmond lies forgotten in his cell as his psyche undergoes a series of changes: from hope, because he knows he is innocent of any crime; to despair, because the future looks hopeless; to anger at the people who placed him in his predicament. The cannonading at Waterloo dies away. Years pass. Then, one night, Edmond hears the sound of digging from an adjoining cell. He breaks a water jug and uses a fragment of the pottery to assist in the excavation. Soon, a narrow tunnel is completed, and Edmond meets an old man, a fellow prisoner named Abbé Faria, whose misguided attempt to dig his way to freedom has led him to Edmond’s cell. Thereafter the two meet daily, and the old man teaches the uneducated Edmond history, mathematics, languages, and etiquette.
In Edmond’s fourteenth year of imprisonment Faria, mortally ill, tells Edmond where to find a tremendous fortune should he escape after the old man’s death. When death comes, Faria’s body is placed into a sack prior to being heaved into the sea. Edmond, desperate to escape, changes places with the dead man, whom he drags through the tunnel into his own bed. Jailers throw the sack into the sea. Edmond rips the cloth and swims through the darkness to an islet in the bay.
At daybreak a gang of smugglers rescues him. Edmond works with the smugglers until a stroke of luck brings him to the island of Monte-Cristo, where Faria’s fortune is supposedly concealed. He lands on the island with the crew of the ship and, feigning injury in a fall, persuades the crew to leave him behind until their return trip from a smuggling rendezvous. Edmond explores the island and finds the treasure hidden in an underground cavern. He stuffs his pockets with jewels and returns to the mainland to sell some of the precious stones and gain the money necessary to carry out his plans to bring the treasure from Monte-Cristo. Edmond buys a boat and a title and sets himself up as the fabulously wealthy count of Monte-Cristo, one of many aliases he will hold while putting together an elaborate...
(The entire section is 1382 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The Count of Monte-Cristo, which may be the best example of Dumas’s narrative and imaginative power, is quite unlike The Three Musketeers. It is not historical. The time of its action is not remote, relative to the time of its publication. Its values are not aristocratic but bourgeois. It deals with the power of money, with what currently is called white-collar crime, and with greed. It is about shipping, commerce, banking, bribery, and corruption. Opposing a dishonest group including a lawyer, an accountant, and a banker are an honest shipowner and merchant marine officer.
The novel is also about the bourgeois values of getting demoted and promoted. Dantês, the merchant marine officer, gets promoted, because of his ability, to captain. He is about to marry his sweetheart, Mercédès. He is honest and naïve. He does not think that Danglers wants his captaincy or that Mondego wants his sweetheart. The men falsely accuse him of being a Bonapartist spy. He does not think that the prosecutor Villefort will convict him and send him to prison in order to cover up the wrongdoing of Villefort’s father. Dantês, for being too innocent, is demoted.
He learns in prison of a great treasure hidden on the island of Monte-Cristo. He escapes. Retrieving the fortune, he changes his identity, becoming the Count of Monte-Cristo. He is, in a sense, promoted. Now extremely wealthy, he seeks vengeance on those who have wronged him. He is...
(The entire section is 447 words.)
Chapters 1-5 Summary
Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Count of Monte Cristo opens as the cargo ship Pharaon is entering the port at Marseilles, France, after a three-month journey. The owner of the ship, M. Morrel, is being rowed out to meet with the captain. Upon arriving, Morrel is told that Captain Leclere died from brain fever while the ship was at sea. Twenty-year-old Edmond Dantes, the ship’s first mate, has taken over the role of captain and has brought the boat safely back home with all cargo and crew aboard.
When Dantes interrupts his conversation with Morrel to attend to the securing of the ship in the harbor, Danglars, the twenty-five-year-old Supercargo (supervisor of the cargo) fills in details about what...
(The entire section is 732 words.)
Chapters 6-10 Summary
The scene changes to another betrothal celebration, this time between two young people of the aristocracy. Renee de Saint-Meran is to be married to Gerard de Villefort, a lawyer and assistant to the crown prosecutor. The people at this party are all royalists, meaning they are faithful to King Louis XVIII, who is sitting on the throne. Royalists are enemies to Napoleon and his supporters. Even though Napoleon has been exiled from France, the country has not yet established political harmony. This is especially true in Marseilles, where royalists fear Napoleon’s spies are plotting the emperor’s return.
Gerard Villefort claims to be a staunch royalist. However, his background is slightly marred because his father was...
(The entire section is 964 words.)
Chapters 11-15 Summary
Dandre, the minister of police, returns to the king’s room and admits that he has just learned that Napoleon returned to France three days ago. The king is necessarily angry at Dandre and criticizes him. He uses Villefort as a comparison, telling Dandre that here is a young man without any services at his command, and yet he was able to tell him that Napoleon was on his way to France before the minister even had a clue this was happening. Villefort does not wanting the police minister to hold a grudge against him, so he tells the king that he was merely lucky to have intercepted the information as he did. King Louis does not accept this. Instead, he gives Villefort a cross, a symbol of high honor.
There is then a...
(The entire section is 901 words.)
Chapters 16-20 Summary
Abbey Faria climbs out of the tunnel into Dantes’s cell. Dantes is so excited to see him that he picks up the old man and carries him to the light coming through a high window so he can better study the man’s face. They spend the next few hours talking about their digging tools and the distances they have dug. The old man tells Dantes his tunnel is fifty feet long. But then Faria dejectedly concedes that all the digging was in vain. It took Faria four years to make his tools and two years more to dig the tunnel. His miscalculations have led him in the wrong direction. He is too old now and cannot consider starting over to dig a new tunnel.
Despite Faria’s disappointment, Dantes is elated. He had never even thought...
(The entire section is 927 words.)
Chapters 21-25 Summary
Dantes struggles to cut himself free of the burial sack in which he was thrown into the sea; he nearly drowns, but he finally succeeds. He swims toward a deserted island but is unsure whether he has enough strength to do so. He is determined to get as far away from the prison as possible. A storm comes up and pushes him to the rocky shore. During the night, he sees a small fishing boat capsize, its crew lost to the strong seas.
In the morning light, he sees another ship approaching. He finds a sailor’s red cap floating in the water and dons it. Then he grabs some of the wreckage of the fishing boat and swims out to the second ship. Again he almost drowns before he is pulled by the hair onto the Italian ship....
(The entire section is 1127 words.)
Chapters 25-29 Summary
Dantes is searching for his love, Mercedes, and the men who betrayed him. He is dressed in a priest’s black frock and is pretending to be Italian. The first person he finds is Caderousse, the tailor who used to live in the same building as Dante’s father. Caderousse played a minor part in Dantes’s imprisonment.
Caderousse is not longer a tailor. Now he runs an inn that is in poor shape because it is not doing much business. He is married, and his wife is ill. He does not recognize Dantes but treats him respectfully because Dantes rides a fine horse and buys a bottle of Caderousse’s most expensive wine.
In the course of their conversation, the priest asks if Caderousse knows Edmund Dantes. Caderousse...
(The entire section is 887 words.)
Chapters 30-34 Summary
Morrel is desperate as the deadline for the payment of his bills draws near. He goes to every business associate who might offer him a loan, but no one is willing to take a chance on him. Down to his last possible hope, Morrel travels to Paris to meet with Danglars. Danglars was once Morrel’s employee in charge of the merchandise that was on the Pharaon. After Dantes was imprisoned, Danglars told Morrel that he no longer wanted to work for him. Morrel encouraged Danglar to seek his fortune elsewhere. Now that Danglars is one of the richest men in Paris, Morrel humbles himself as he appeals to Danglars for a loan. Unfortunately, even Danglars turns him down.
With nowhere else to turn, Morrel returns home more...
(The entire section is 1102 words.)
Chapters 35-39 Summary
Before Franz and Albert depart in the Count of Monte Cristo’s carriage, the count invites the young men to join him for breakfast. Franz recognizes the count as Sinbad the Sailor. The count, however, shows no sign of knowing Franz, so Franz makes no mention of their past acquaintance. Franz does take note that the count seems to be paying special attention to Albert; he stares at him as he talks.
The three men discuss the upcoming execution to take place before the carnival celebration. The count invites the young men to join him in a special room he has reserved across from the plaza where the execution will be conducted. The count tells the men there will be only one execution this day, however, as he has heard that...
(The entire section is 1020 words.)
Chapters 40-44 Summary
Although Albert’s guests were skeptical about the stories Albert was telling them about the count before he arrived, they become impressed with the count as soon as he makes an appearance. The guests might still have their questions concerning the count’s background, but after witnessing his unaffected, confident manner, they believe the stories they have heard and quickly become fascinated with the man.
At the breakfast table, Dantes dazzles Albert’s guests with his tales of his gracious benevolence. Most of the guests conclude that he is either telling the truth or is completely mad in the way he gives his money away.
Maximilian Morrel extends an invitation for the count to stay with his sister,...
(The entire section is 818 words.)
Chapters 45-49 Summary
Bertuccio continues to recount the night he spent in hiding at Caderousse’s inn. Bertuccio had overheard Caderousse insinuate that some harm might come to the jeweler who had just handed over a large sum of money to Caderousse in payment for the gem the count gave Caderousse earlier.
Bertuccio feels suspicious of what might happen next, and his concern is aroused when he hears gunshots, moans, and the thudding sounds of someone falling down a flight of stairs. When he sees Caderousse leave the inn, Bertuccio goes inside and finds Caderousse’s wife dead on the stairs. Bertuccio ventures up the stairs, where he discovers the jeweler who is in the throes of death in the bedroom.
Bertuccio runs outside and...
(The entire section is 1014 words.)
Chapters 50-54 Summary
The Count of Monte Cristo visits the Morrel family. The eldest son, Maximilian, is currently living with his sister, Julie, and her husband. Julie is caught off guard by the count’s visit. She had been working in the garden and quickly excuses herself to change her dress. Once they are all seated together, the count is affected by all the warmth and love he feels with this family. Morrel, Maximilian’s and Julie’s father, is now dead, but Dantes’s memory of him continues to connect him to the deceased ship owner’s children. Julia and Maximilian do not know that it was the count who saved their father from bankruptcy and left the jewel for Julie’s dowry. They have not connected the actions of the man they knew as Sinbad...
(The entire section is 1190 words.)
Chapters 55-59 Summary
The Count of Monte Cristo is adding more intrigue to his plan of revenge. He meets with a man referred to as Major Cavalcanti. The major seems confused about his past, has no papers to prove his identity, and lacks money though he is supposed to be somewhat wealthy. The count appears to know more about the major than the major knows about himself. In truth, the count has made up a history for the major, and the meeting of the two people is done in preparation for the major to meet with Villefort at the count’s country home in a few days. Although nothing is said about it explicitly, this is a rehearsal of sorts, preparing the major for the role he is to play in front of Villefort.
The count has made everything up as...
(The entire section is 1060 words.)
Chapters 60-64 Summary
Monte Cristo appears at the Villefort home, supposedly to remind Villefort and his wife of their promise to attend his dinner. In the process, the count learns of Noirtier’s plan to change his will and of Villefort’s frustration with his father. Villefort is dismayed that neither his daughter, Valentine, nor he will inherit Noirtier’s wealth. All Villefort has to do to change his father’s mind is to not pursue Valentine’s engagement to Franz, but Villefort insists that the marriage will happen.
When the count reminds Villefort of the dinner he is planning, Villefort eventually asks the count where the dinner will take place. When the count gives Villefort the exact address of his country home, Villefort grows...
(The entire section is 1026 words.)
Chapters 65-69 Summary
Madame Danglars returns home with her lover, Debray, accompanying her. She readies herself for bed while Debray sits in her bedroom, wanting to know why she was so upset at the count’s country home. Madame Danglars attempts to push aside Debray’s concerns, but he does not accept this. He wants to get to the root of the problem but is interrupted when Danglars enters the room. Danglars insists that Debray leave his house so he can talk to his wife.
Danglars is obviously upset, but his anger is not directed at his wife’s affair with Debray but rather at the recent loss of a large sum of money. Danglars insists that his wife and her lover compensate him for at least part of the money he has lost due to the erroneous...
(The entire section is 973 words.)
Chapters 70-74 Summary
The night of the ball at Fernand’s house is hot and stuffy because the party occurs in the middle of July. The guests arrive promptly despite the heat, and though the count wipes his brow to rid it of beads of sweat, he refuses the iced drinks Mercedes’s servants offer him. When the count wonders why the blinds are lowered, Mercedes, who remains focused on him and his intentions, orders that the windows be cleared of all impediments to allow a cooling breeze to waft through the house. Mercedes then invites the count to walk with her through her garden. She is extremely curious about the count and has asked her son many questions about him. Now is her chance to get to know him better, she thinks.
Mercedes takes the...
(The entire section is 965 words.)
Chapters 75-79 Summary
Noirtier has promised Valentine and Maximilien to protect them and keep Valentine from being forced to marry Franz. Noirtier has not divulged how he will do this, but the young people have faith in him. It is not until Franz appears at the Villefort house to sign a marriage contract, a promise to marry Valentine, that Noirtier calls Franz to his room.
After Franz enters, Noirtier asks Valentine (via eye signals) to go to his desk and retrieve papers. As Villefort looks on, he is relaxed. He has previously gone through his father’s papers and found nothing important. However, Noirtier’s servant shows Valentine a secret compartment in the desk from which a role of papers is extracted. Noirtier signals that Valentine...
(The entire section is 1231 words.)
Chapters 80-84 Summary
Villefort is obviously disturbed when Doctor d’Avigny reports his suspicions of who poisoned Noitier’s servant. The doctor even tells Villefort that he believes his father-in-law and mother-in-law (the Saint-Merans) were also poisoned. The doctor assumes only person with a motive to be rid of the Saint-Merans is Valentine, and he declares her the killer. She was in line to inherit large sums of money from them upon their deaths. The doctor also assumes that Noirtier was the target for the poisoned lemonade, which his servant ultimately drank. The doctor points out that Valentine would also benefit from Noirtier’s death. Even though Noirtier did consume some of the lemonade, the doctor explains that it had no effect on the old...
(The entire section is 866 words.)
Chapters 85-89 Summary
Having shown proof that he did not slander Albert’s father, Beauchamp is once again in Albert’s good graces. As such, they go together to the count’s house to ask the count for his advice about the story of the man who betrayed Ali Tepelini.
The count is happy to see the two young men and invites them to join him on his planned journey to the shore in Normandy. Beauchamp, who is still distracted by the story about Fernand, tells the count he prefers to remain in the city. But Albert has no reason to stay in Paris and looks forward to the trip as a distraction from the torment the story has caused him.
The trip is long, and Albert is in Normandy only three days when one of his servants arrives with a...
(The entire section is 983 words.)
Chapters 90-94 Summary
After Mercedes leaves the count, the full emotional weight of the count’s decision to not kill Albert in the duel but to allow the young man to kill him falls heavily on the count. He questions why he has agreed with Mercedes, especially now, when all his long-planned schemes are starting to unfold. Danglars has lost large sums of money as well as his standing in Parisian society. Villefort is slowly losing members of his family. Although the count’s full revenge has not completely played out, the count is witnessing some of its rewards. But if he dies, as he has promised Mercedes, he will not see his plans fully played out.
The count, who has thought of himself as God’s avenger, is having second thoughts about...
(The entire section is 1108 words.)
Chapters 95-99 Summary
Danglars’s curiosity is roused when his daughter insists on talking to him. He admits her into his study, but he does not really listen to what she has to say. Eugenie refuses to marry Andrea. She wants to be free so she can follow her career as a musician. However, her father reveals to her that his fortune is all but gone. He will not be able to support her if she does not marry Andrea. It is through her marriage that wealth will be restored to the Danglars family. When Eugenie fully comprehends the financial crisis her family is facing, she relents. She will marry Andrea, but her father is not to take control of all the money Andrea will bring to the family. Eugenie wants a share of this wealth because she plans on running...
(The entire section is 984 words.)
Chapters 100-104 Summary
Valentine, who is still weak from the poisoned drink that she consumed, has endured four nights of fitful sleep. While still fighting delirium, she imagines she sees apparitions at night that enter her room and hover near her bed. On the fourth night, when a figure appears, she finds this apparition considerably altered from the previous ones. This one speaks to her, and the voice belongs to a man. Valentine is frightened, and her heart races in fear. When the ghost-like figure identifies himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Valentine’s fear is not lessened. She wants to know what he is doing in her room.
The count tells her that he is there at the request of Maximilian, who has asked that the count watch over...
(The entire section is 1049 words.)
Chapters 105-109 Summary
The count joins the funeral procession as it nears the cemetery. He is distracted, however, because he does not see Maximilian. A few minutes later, he notices a figure lurking in the shadows among the bushes along the side of the road, and he finally recognizes the figure as Maximilian. The young man stands away from the crowd throughout the ceremony. Afterward, the count follows Maximilian home.
Julie, Maximilian’s sister, greets the count and tells him that her brother is in his study. After hurrying up the stairs, the count sees Maximilian seated at his desk, writing on a piece of paper. Two pistols are near at hand. The count smashes one of the glass panes after finding the door locked and rushes into the room....
(The entire section is 1035 words.)
Chapters 110-114 Summary
Crowds fill the room where the trial of Andrea/Benedetto is about to begin. Villefort has focused all of his mental energy on prosecuting the young man, whom he perceives to be a scoundrel. As Andrea/Benedetto takes a seat, preparing himself to be questioned by the president of the court, Villefort is full of confidence that this will be a swift trial.
However, as Andrea/Benedetto begins to form his answers, Villefort becomes unsettled. There are also audible moans from a veiled woman among the spectators as Andrea/Benedetto provides the date and place of his birth. As the questions continue, Andrea/Benedetto tells the court that immediately upon his birth, he was buried alive by his father, who thought he was born...
(The entire section is 1218 words.)
Chapters 115-117 Summary
Danglars awakens as if in a dream as he looks about the cavernous cell into which he has become imprisoned. Outside his cell door, he smells food and rises to find a guard eating, which at first disgusts Danglars. How could anyone eat such dreadful food, he thinks.
Danglars allows several hours to pass, believing that someone will soon bring him something to eat. The first guard is replaced by a second. This new guard also has brought food with him, food that increases Danglars’s appetite. He asks the man for something to eat. The guard asks what Danglars would like. Danglars replies a fowl. Almost instantaneously, a cooked fowl is brought forward. But before Danglars, who by now is very hungry, can eat one bite, the...
(The entire section is 796 words.)