How does the history of Napoleon Bonaparte influence the plot?The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The political climate of the setting of The Count of Monte Cristo is intrinsic to the plot of Dumas's narrative.  For, it is the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte which proves to be the nemesis of Edmund Dantes.  When he is arrested and brought before the Deputy Procureur du Roi, de Villefort, Dantes would be freed without having delivered a letter to Elba, the island on which Napoleon has been confined after being sent into exile.  For, when de Villefort asks to whom the letter was delivered, he changes his plans to release Edmund because he has aspirations of ascending politically. Presently, the Bourbon king, Louis XVIII, has been restored to the throne, and since de Villefort's father is a Bonapartist, a Girondin, or part of a political faction during the Revolution, de Villefort must keep this information quiet. So, when de Villefort learns that the letter Edmund Dantes has carried for the dying captain is addressed to Elba, he senses that a movement is underway to restore Napoleon as emperor.  Also, since he is engaged to a Royalists' daughter, Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran, and since any connection of deVillefort with his father will ruin his prospects of marriage and social advancement, the prosecutor decides that he must assure that no connection between himself and Napoleon exists.  Therefore, he incarcerates Dantes indefinitely as a political prisoner in the Chateu d'If, where he will not reach anyone further.

While in prison Emund meets the Abbe Fari, who reveals the truth of Napoleon's political threat to Dantes.  Findly it ironic, he explains the situation of his own incarceration to the young man, one that is the opposite of that of Dantes:  He has been imprisoned for being a supporter of the Bourbon kings against Napoleon.  When Dantes realizes the treachery of deVillefort and the men who have written the incriminating letter, he vows revenge upon them all if he should escape the prison.  This revenge is what propels the remainder of the main plot of The Count of Monte Cristo.

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