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The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre Dumas père

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How do Valentine de Villefort and Eugenie Danglars act as foils for each other? What makes these people so similar or different? 

Both Valentine de Villefort and Eugenie Danglars are girls of high social standing, who are used to having their way with the world. Both are used to having people around them who listen and obey their every command. The two girls have different personalities, but they have a lot in common; they both have ancestors that were the cause of an innocent man being sent to prison. Eugenie is cold and impersonal, while Valentine is kind-hearted and sweet. Valentine is obedient to her grandfather and trusts her father completely. She loves Maximilien Morrel and would do anything for him. Eugenie lacks compassion for people; she only cares about herself.

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Valentine de Villefort and Eugenie Danglars are two beautiful girls who grow up in the same high society circle together because of the influences of their parents. Valentine's father is the Deputy Prosecutor (Procureur), and Eugenie's father is a highly respectable banker. At the introduction of the girls in the...

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bookThe Count of Monte Cristo, both are betrothed to high society young men. It is not too long, however, before these betrothals are cancelled. Franz d'Epinay breaks off the engagement with Valentine on finding an unfavorable connection between his father's murder and Valentine's grandfather, M. Noitier. M. Danglars breaks his daughter Eugenie's betrothal to Albert de Morcerf in exchange for a seemingly more favorable connection with Count Andrea Cavalcanti. Here the similarities between Valentine and Eugenie appear to end, except for one important fact: both are the unfortunate offspring of two men who were direct causes of the false accusation of treason against Edmond Dantes, now called the Count of Monte Cristo, and his many years imprisoned at the Chateau d'If.

Despite being similar in circumstance, the two girls have very different personalities. Valentine is affectionate, gentle, lively, and loves the soldier Maximilien Morrel. She is completely obedient to and trusting of her grandfather, and she respects and loves her father.

Eugenie is often viewed as cold and impersonal in her interactions with society and with her family. She loves her music and spends a great deal of time with her friend Louise d'Armilly. Unlike Valentine, Eugenie is not in love with a man. She desires to make her own living away from home by selling her art or playing music. When her second betrothal falls through, she makes the determination to run away and does so successfully. Her relationship to her father is virtually nonexistent.

The Count of Monte Cristo influences the futures of Valentine and Eugenie. Because of his actions, the futures of M. de Villefort and M. Danglars are ruined. The Count has mercy on Valentine herself, for Morrel's sake, as he regards Morrel as a son. Eugenie, however, seeks her own place in the world, and it is assumed that she is better off for it.

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First of all,  foils can best be defined as characters that contrast with each other in order to highlight their characteristics. Through this definition, Valentine de Villefort and Eugenie Danglars make perfect foils in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

Although both girls are young, attractive, and in situations to wed men they do not want to marry, their similarities end there. Valentine appears as the perfect granddaughter; she is young, innocent and in love with Maximilian Morrel. On the other hand, Eugenie is far different. She is independent and runs away with her friend, Louise d'Armilly. In fact, she tells her father that life is a "shipwreck" and that she intends "to live entirely alone and consequently, entirely free" (95.21). Valentine appears as the feminine character, whereas Eugenie has masculine characteristics, by the definition of "masculine" at the time the novel was written. In today's world, perhaps Eugenie would not be viewed as independent as she is portrayed in the novel.

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In Alexandre Dumas's classic, "The Count of Monte Cristo" Valentine de Villefort is the daughter of the Deputy Procureur of Chapter 6, Monsieur de Villefort and his first wife, Renee de Saint-Meran.  Later in the novel, M. de Villefort has remarried a woman named Heloise who tries to poison Valentine in an effort to ensure that de Villefort's fortune will go to her son, Edward.  Obviously, Valentine does not get along with her step-mother, nor does she agree with her father's attempts to have her marry Franz d'Epinay, whose grandfather was a mortal enemy of de Villefort's father, M. Noitier.  After the poisoning attempt is ruined by the intervention of Monte Cristo, and the marriage attempt foiled by old M. Noirtier who reveals a letter that informs d'Epinay that Noirtier is the man who killed his grandfather, Valentine marries her true love, Maxillian Morrel.

Eugenie Danglars is the daughter of Danglars, the purser on the ship of the young Edmund Dantes, and his wife, Madame Danglars, who is from a wealthy family.  Like Valentine she is young and pretty and undesirous of marrying the man that her father has selected.  In Eugenie's case, this man is Andrea Calvacanti, a poser for the Count's revenge upon the Danglars.  Rather than marry Andrea, or even Albert de Morcerf for whom she was previously intended, Eugenie runs away with her friend Louise d'Armilly. And, as Dumas writes, "M. Danglar had lsot his daughter."  So, too, has M. de Villefort whose has ignored the wishes of his Valentine. 

As to their being foils to each other, perhaps Eugenie's lack of involvement with her family is in contrast to Valentine's depth of feeling for Maximilian and her devotion to her grandfather.

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