The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel written by French author Alexandre Dumas completed in 1844. It is one of the author’s more popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. Like many of his novels, it was expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.
The Count of Monte Cristo Summary
The novel begins with the handsome young sailor Edmond Dantes. He has just returned from a journey aboard the Pharaon.
The Pharaon’s shipowner, M. Morrel, rushes out to meet the ship. He finds that the captain has died en route, and Dantes has assumed the post with admirable skill. He thus plans to make Dantes officially the next captain of the ship.
Dantes future is thus promising. His father’s financial situation as well as his own will be greatly ameliorated. In addition, Dantes has plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes who has awaited his return from sea with great anxiety and love.
Dantes will not get the chance to realize his bright future, however. His success has earned him three conspiring enemies. They write a letter falsely incriminating him in a Bonapartist plot (the royalists are currently in power). The Count of Monte Cristo!
These three enemies are Danglars, Fernand Mondego, and Caderousse. Danglars will become captain of the Pharaon once Dantes is removed, Fernand aspires to win Mercedes’ love, and Caderousse is a jealous neighbor of Dantes.
Perhaps the conspiracy would not have been so successful had not the denunciation fallen into the hands of the public prosecutor, Monsieur de Villefort. This man has nothing personal against Dantes, however, he has Dantes incarcerated as a most dangerous criminal. The Count of Monte Cristo!
His policy against Bonapartists must be extremely vigilant in order to counter the reputation of his father. His father is a known Bonapartist, and Villefort is paranoid that this fact shall hurt his career among the ruling royalists. Thus, he throws Dantes, an innocent man, into the Chateau D’If.
Political regimes change, yet Dantes is forgotten. M. Morrel attempts to have him freed, yet to no avail. In prison, Dantes loses hope and decides to starve himself to death. Thankfully, the prisoner in the next cell was building a tunnel to escape. Miscalculations bring the Abbe Faria, to Dantes cell instead of freedom.
The two become friends, and the learned Abbe teaches Dantes all his vast knowledge of literature, the sciences and languages. The Abbe also reveals to Dantes the location of an immense treasure on the Isle of Monte Cristo. He hopes Dantes will retrieve this treasure should he escape.
When the Abbe dies, Dantes replaces his body with the Abbe’s. The Abbe’s body bag is thrown into the sea. Dantes is free at last, after fourteen years of imprisonment. Dantes is saved from the sea by Italian smugglers. The Count of Monte Cristo!
Dantes’ only reason for living now is to have vengeance upon those who threw his life away. He becomes a smuggler for a time, and finally has the opportunity to retrieve the treasure spoken of by Abbe Faria. He shall use this treasure to calculate the downfall of the four men who imprisoned him.
Dantes’, now the Count of Monte Cristo, shall calculate his revenge over the next10 years. He has already waited fourteen years, thus he has learned the virtue of patience. These men deserve to suffer. Their downfall shall be all the more destructive if his revenge is not brash, but calculated.
Over the next ten years, Monte Cristo conditions himself, and learns of all the details of his enemies past. He also amasses a circle of servants who are forever indebted to him. Using his immense fortune he buys back freedom of men such as Peppino. Luigi Vampa, the great Italian bandit is also indebted to the Count. These men owe the Count their lives, and will prove indispensable to the Count’s plans for revenge.
Before exacting revenge, however, the Count rewards the one family that remained true to him. He saves the Morrel firm from financial disaster by providing a diamond and a new ship to the family anonymously.
The count is now ready to exact revenge. He understands his duty to act as divine justice. When the Count is ready to enter Parisien society, and to destroy his enemies, he does so through contact with Albert de Morcerf. This is the son of Count de Morcerf, a new title given to the very same Fernand Mondego who conspired against Dantes. The Count of Monte Cristo!
By winning Albert’s trust he is introduced to all his former enemies, including Danglars, Count de Morcerf, and Monsieur de Villefort. These men are at the center of social and political life in Paris and are very rich. Monte Cristo’s arrival in Paris causes a great stir, for his fortune is immense.
None of his enemies recognize him however. In fact, they are all eager to associate with this great man. Mercedes, now the Countess de Morcerf, recognizes him, yet she does not reveal his identity to anyone. The Count of Monte Cristo!
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About the Author
Alexandre Dumas, also known as Alexandre Dumas père, was a French writer. His works have been translated into many languages and he is one of the most widely read French authors. The Count of Monte Cristo!