The Count of Monte Cristo Theme: The Count of Monte Cristo is a very powerful book. So powerful in fact, that was controversial when it was first released. The Catholic church in France condemned it because of its powerful message it presented the reader. This theme was one of revenge and vengeance. Monte Cristo had two goals- to reward those who were kind to him and his aging father, and to punish those responsible for his imprisonment and suffering. For the latter, he plans slow and painful punishment. To have spent fourteen years barely subsisting in a dungeon demands cruel and prolonged castigation. Setting: The Count of Monte Cristo is set within the nineteenth century of France in large and populous cities. This was a time of great disruption. There was confusion all over the land in regards to who led France, King Louis or Napoleon. The citizens of France became divided by the two ruling parties. Royalists and the Bonapartist cut at each others throats in order to declare that their ruler was supreme. This situation has a profound effect on the events of the story. Dantes' enemies used the rivalry between the two parties in order to convince the Royalists that Edmond is a Bonapartist, therefore it is the basis for his arrest and inevitable captivity in the Chateau D'If.. Basic Plot: The Count of Monte Cristo is a story about a sailor, Edmond Dantes, who was betrayed during the prime of his life and career by the jealousy of his friends. His shipmate, Danglars, coveted his designation as the captain of the mighty Pharon. Ferdinand Mondego wished to wed Mercedes, who was affianced to Edmond. Danglars and Ferdinand wrote a letter accusing Edmond of carrying a letter from Elba to the Bonapartist committee in Paris. Caderousse, a neighbor, learned of the plot but kept silent. On his wedding day Edmond was arrested and taken before a deputy named Villefort, a political apostate, who, to protect himself, had Edmond secretly imprisoned in the deepest dungeons of the Chateau D'If. There Dantes' incarceration was secured by the plotting of his enemies outside the prison, particularly towards Villefort, who wished to cover up his own father's connections with the Bonapartists. Dantes suffered for fourteen grueling years. While in prison, he was determined to escape and began digging a tunnel in hopes that it would lead to freedom. During this exercise, he met an elderly inmate named Abbe Faria whose attempt to dig his way to his salvation had led him only to Edmond's cell. The two meet daily and an incredible relationship flourished. The old man taught Edmond history, mathematics, and languages. In Edmond's fourteenth year, Faria became mortally ill. The wise elder told Edmond where to find a massive buried fortune. When Faria finally did die, his body was placed in a burial sac. Edmond seized the opportunity of escaping and replaced Faria's corpse with himself. Jailers threw the sack into the sea which allowed Dantes to escape. He is rescued by a passing ship which gives him a position on the boat. After paying homage for the noble act, Dantes recovered the buried treasure and became extremely wealthy. He returned as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo and dazzled all of Paris with his extreme wealth and social graces and also he ingeniously managed to be introduced to the cream of French society, among who he goes unrecognized. But, Monte Cristo, in contrariety, recognized all of his enemies, which now are
all powerful and influential men. Therefore, he was slowly plotting the ruin of the four men who had caused him to be sent to the Chateau D'If. Ferdinand had married Mercedes and was now the Count de Morcef. Monte Cristo released information to the press that proved that Morcef is a traitor, and Morcef is ruined socially. Then Monte Cristo destroyed Morcef's relationship with his family, whom he adored. When they leave him, he was so distraught that he committed suicide. To revenge himself on Caderousse, Monte Cristo easily trapped Caderousse because of his voracious greed. Monte Cristo awakened this greed with the gift of a diamond. Later, urged by his wife, Caderousse committed robbery and murder. Now escaped from prison, Caderousse unsuccessfully attempted to rob Monte Cristo. The Count watched as one of Caderousse's companions mortally wounding him. As the man lay dying, Monte Cristo exposed his true name- Edmond Dantes. To revenge himself on Danglars, who loves money more than life it self, Monte Cristo ruins him financially. To revenge himself on Villefront, Monte Cristo slowly reveals to Villefront that he knows about a love affair that Villefront had long ago with Madam Danglars. He also revealed to him, by hints, that he knows about the illegitimate child whom he fathered, a child whom Villefront had believed to be buried alive. The child lived, however, and was now engaged to Mademoiselle Danglars, who is really his half-sister. Ironically, Villefront's wives proves to be more villainous than her husband, for she poisons her parents and her daughter so that her real son can have the full inheritance. Villefront, however, discovers the plot and Threatens to kill her if she doesn't do it first, and so she kills herself and her son. The Count had rescued Valentine from a drug induced coma and reunited her with her love, Maximilian, on the island of Monte Cristo leaving the two young loves his entire fortune. The Count sailed off into the sunset never to be seen again. Major Characters: Edmond Dantes (alias the Count of Monte Cristo, Sinbad the Sailor, Abbe Busoni, and Lord Wilmore) Edmond Dantes is the dashing and idyllic champion of the novel. He is a sailor who, at the prime of his life and career, is betrayed by close friends because of their jealousy. He is imprisoned for fourteen grueling years during his imprisonment he meets another prisoner named Abbe Faria, who teaches Dantes many languages, sciences, history and other subjects, they become like father and son, and when the Abbe was about to die, he revealed to Dantes the hiding place of a long-secret buried treasure consisting of untold wealth, diamond, gold coins, and other precious jewelry. After his miraculous escape from the prison, Dantes recovers buried treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. The rest of his life is spent, at first, performing acts of goodness and charity for the good people whom he has known, then he devotes his life to brining about gods retribution against the evil people who were responsible for his imprisonment. Monsieur De Villefort Villefort is the type of person, as describe early in the novel, which sacrifice anything to his ambition, even his own father. Villefort, the prosecuting attorney, is most responsible for the suffering of Dantes because it was he who ordered that Edmond be sent to prison which ignited his spark for revenge. Villefort is willing to
have an innocent man imprisoned for life. Thus, he becomes the central enemy against whom the Count of Monte Cristo affects revenge. Fernand Mondego (alias the Count de Morcerf) During the time in which Edmond was a sailor, Fernand was a simple fisherman and sometime smuggler who was in love with the same woman whom Edmond Dantes was ingaged to. Because of his jealousy, Fernand mailed the letter condemning Dantes, hoping that if Dantes was arrested, he would then be able to marry Mercedes. Fernand gained much wealth by smuggling and by betraying the great Ali Pasha. When all of his treachery was exposed, he discovers that his wife and son have deserted him, thus he commits suicide.
The scene now changes dramatically. We are in Rome, where two new characters appear: Franz d'Epinay (a young baron) and Albert de Morcerf (a good-looking viscount). The young men are fretting because they have come to Rome to find romance and laughter during the carnival season, but strangely, all of Rome's carriages and horses have been rented. The two young men are furious; men of their class do not "run around Rome on foot like lawyers' clerks." Nevertheless, they decide to deliver their "letters of introduction" to all of Rome's first families and make plans, if need be, to costume themselves as colorful "Neapolitan harvesters" and ride around in a festive and beribboned oxcart. But at the last minute, the two men are saved by a stroke of good fortune: The hotel-keeper tells them that the "very great" Count of Monte Cristo has heard of their plight and has offered them two seats in his carriage, as well as two seats in his window above the square where most of the merriment will take place. When Franz and Albert meet Monte Cristo, they are in awe of him and of his palatial quarters and his princely generosity. In addition, both men are startled by Monte Cristo's enthusiastic invitation to join him in witnessing a public execution from a window overlooking the execution site. Both Albert and Franz survive the ordeal, but they are both greatly distraught. Immediately before the execution, Monte Cristo talks of little else except the justice of slow and painful revenge; the guillotine, he feels, offers death too quickly and too painlessly. In contrast to instantaneous decapitation, however, Franz and Albert witness a singularly savage execution: A man is bludgeoned with a mace, his throat slit open, and his stomach trampled on until jets of blood spurt from his mouth like fantastic ruby-colored fountains. Curiously, the other prisoner on the block, a bronzed and handsome young man with a wild, proud look in his eyes, is pardoned at the last minute?as Monte Cristo prophecied earlier that he would be. Hurriedly, the two men and Monte Cristo don their carnival costumes and join the festivities. Albert is soon rewarded with romance; a masked lady in a carriage tosses a bouquet of violets to him, and on the second day of the carnival, she tosses another bouquet to him; then Albert is rewarded with an invitation to a rendezvous with the mysterious lady. He goes to the appointed street, but at the moment when all of the carnival candles are suddenly extinguished in a dramatic finale, he is kidnapped. Franz receives a note demanding a great deal of money and threatening Albert's life if the sum is not paid. In desperation, Franz asks Monte Cristo for a loan, explaining that a man waits below for the ransom money. Monte Cristo goes to the window and speaks to the fellow. It is Peppino, the handsome, tanned youth who was pardoned earlier, and who, it turns out, "owes his life" to Monte Cristo. He explains that his master, the notorious Luigi Vampa, kidnapped Albert. Monte Cristo immediately tells Peppino to take them to Vampa at once. Deep in the bowels of Rome's catacombs, Monte Cristo accuses Vampa of breaking his vow never to molest a friend of the Count's. Vampa, more like a gallant gentleman than a bandit, profusely apologizes to Monte Cristo and immediately releases Albert. Later, Albert asks Monte Cristo how he can ever repay him for saving his life, and Monte Cristo answers that he would like to be introduced into Parisian society. Albert, of course, promises to do so, and he sets a date for their next meeting?in Paris, in exactly three months. The two men shake hands on the agreement, and Monte Cristo leaves. Franz turns to Albert and says that Monte Cristo is indeed a strange man; he feels uneasy about the Count's coming to Paris. Commentary
These two transitional chapters show Edmond Dantès now totally metamorphosed into the noble, distinguished, and very rich Count of Monte Cristo. Quite a number of years have passed since the episode with Monsieur Morrel, and we can only gather from later facts that the Count has traveled extensively and performed many acts?such as acquiring Ali, his mute valet, Bertuccio, his steward, and Haydée, his "slave-mistress." And note that although it seems that the Count is "accidentally" staying in the same hotel with Albert de Morcerf and Franz d'Epinay, and although it seems to be a "miraculous" rescue of Albert, there is every indication (virtual proof, in fact) that Monte Cristo has arranged these things to happen so that he can "seemingly" come to the rescue of these two young (and prestigious) Parisian gentlemen. In other words, the Count of Monte Cristo wants Albert to become so indebted to him that Albert will introduce him into Paris society, and thereby introduce him to the very enemies against whom he plans his revenge. The first and simplest obligation which Albert owes to Monte Cristo is, of course, the loan of a carriage when one was "suddenly impossible to obtain" during Rome's carnival season. But the major obligation occurs when Monte Cristo "saved Albert's life" after he was "captured" by the bandit Luigi Vampa, a person who is also obligated to the Count. Albert is obligated to such an extent, therefore, that he will gladly introduce Monte Cristo to prominent Parisian society, where Monte Cristo will begin his slow revenge against those who are responsible for his long years of brutal imprisonment. In this section also, we discover Monte Cristo's philosophy of revenge and death. Since the Count could obviously hire an assassin, or in other ways bring about the immediate death of his enemies, we should note that he does not believe in a quick and easy death for a person who has made others suffer for a long and extended period of time. As he says, "If a man has tortured and killed your father, your mother, your sweetheart, one of those beings who
 

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