What is the relevance of Bonapartism in the novel, The Count of Monte Cristo?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The historical setting plays a crucial role in the development of the subplots, main plot, and themes of The Count of Monte Cristo. Several of the characters' lives are tied inextricably to the political climate. 

Plot

In the beginning of the narrative, Edmund Dantes arouses suspicion upon himself because he delivers a letter from the dying captain to the Isle of Elba where Napoleon has been exiled.  Then, the envious and treacherous Danglars contrives a plan to dispose of Dantes so he can be made captain of the Pharaon.  When Edmund is arrested and later interrogated by the Deputy Prosecutor Monsieur Gerarld de Villefort, this prosecutor has intended upon dropping the charges against Dantes until Edmund reveals that the letter that he was given in return was to be delivered to Monsieur Noitier.

These words fell on Villefort's ears with the rapidity and unexpectedness of a thunderbolt...."Monsieur Noirtier, Rue Coq Heron, number thirteen.... "

the father of deVillefort, who has changed his name because of political reasons:  his father is a Bonapartist and he a Royalist and married into an aristocratic family, who seeks political advancement under the restored monarchy.

While Dantes is sent to the political prison of the Chateau d'If for purportedly being a Bonapartist, the old prisoner whom he meets and builds a friendship, the Abbe Faria, ironically, has been sentenced to prison for being the opposite, a royalist in the time of Napoleon's reign.

In a smaller subplot, M. Noitier foils the plans of his unconscionable son to marry his daughter to the Baron Franz d' Epany by revealing to him that he was the man who killed his father, a royalist general, many years earlier.

Themes

Certainly, the theme of Revenge is closely tied to the Bonapartist/Royalist conflict since the main reason Dantes goes to prison is the fact that de Villefort wishes to remove any possible detection of his family name and father.  As the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes avenges himself against de Villefort because of his false political imprisonment.

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