The Count of Monte Cristo
-- An Analysis --
Le Clerc develops brain fever while arranging to deliver the letter to Napoleon
and dies soon after. It indicates the
dangerous intensity connected with the mission which results in Dante’s
imprisonment. Dantes is overjoyed at
the good fortune issuing from Le Clerc’s death – his joy is premature and
unwise and later frustrated.
Napoleon was a giant and an enemy of the state
imprisoned on Elba. The moment Dantes lends himself to aid the Emperor he lands
in prison, as Napoleon was. When he emerges, he too like the Emperor is a man
whose power and stature are larger than life.
On board Dantes quarrels with Danglers and proposes they stop
at the isle of Monte Cristo to settle their differences, but Danglers
refuses. It forebodes the
importance of this isle in their later life and the greater quarrel to ensue.
Morrel’s main concern on the arrival of his ship is for his
cargo, only secondarily for the dead Le Clerc. Years later when the same ship
is sunk, his concern is for the crew rather than the ship, though its loss
means his certain ruin. His years of
crises have brought out his goodness, while Caderousse’s years of suffering
brought out his evil. (A man who is
more concerned with his
cargo than with his crew is one who will lose cargo. Fourteen years later when Morrel comes to
think of the crew first and cargo only after, immediately his fortune is restored
Danglars, Caderousse and Fernand are overtly and explicitly
jealous of Dantes and resentful of his happiness and prosperity. This atmosphere around him, unwilling to
support his joy, brings him misery instead.
Dantes clearly feels Caderousse’s hostility behind his dissimulating
Although Caderousse tries to dissuade Danglars and
Fernand from their plot against Dantes, in fact he is the one who brings them
together and feels an intense jealousy because Dantes is rising in life. His
inner feeling is as evil as theirs, though his outer action is apparently positive.
Caderousse loses his first wife and he ends up marrying a devil as Villefort
Mercedes was a Catalan and an orphan. By custom the Catalans did not intermarry
with the population of Marseille.
Fernand calls it a sacred law.
Being an orphan, Mercedes’ need for physical companionship and security
is far greater than normal. That need
attracts Fernand despite her mental purity to Edmund. Fernand reminds Mercedes that his love of her had Mercedes’
mothers’ sanction. They are cousins.
Mercedes’ mother died a year ago when she was sixteen, leaving a small
inheritance of a hut.
Mercedes and Edmund disapproved of being called Madame and
Captain Dantes by their evil wishers, since to be called by a title before it
is attained is an evil omen.
Villefort has not just sacrificed Dantes to protect his
father, Noirtier. He could have simply burned the letter and cautioned Dantes
to silence for that. He has sacrificed
Dantes to his ambition for the king’s attention.
betrothal party for Edmund and Mercedes occurs the very same night as the
betrothal party for Villefort and Renee. Edmund loses his bride to his enemy,
Villefort loses his wife to an early death and ends up marrying a devil. Renee’s mother, the Marquise, urges
Villefort to prosecute and punish without mercy any Bonapartist. Her instinctive response to Dante’s arrest
is negative, whereas her daughter regards the news as a bad omen for their
marriage (which it is since she dies within ten years) and pleads for
mercy. The marquise is poisoned by
Madame Villefort; Renee’s daughter Valentine is spared. Because Rene pleads mercy for Dantes
without even knowing him, 20 years later Dantes saves Renee’s daughter
Valentine from poisoning by her stepmother.
Caderousse’s outer behaviour is one of goodwill and friendship
for Dantes but conceals envy and ill-will.
Therefore, though Dantes outwardly helps him by giving the jewel, the
result is Caderousse’s downfall.
Dantes invites Caderousse, Danglars and Fernand to his
betrothal despite their ill-will. He
sits Danglers on his left. Mercedes
sits Fernand on hers. Their ill will
destroys the occasion.
Edmund had smuggled a small chest of coffee and tobacco on the
ship for his father. A small illegal
act on his part is sanction for legal action against him.
Like Othello, Edmund achieves a peak of joy, which becomes
unbearable and unsustainable and calls into play the other side of his
nature. In Othello’s case it is the
impure vital depths that rise in jealousy.
In Edmund the inner content is pure and good (Eg: he first seeks his father, only then Mercedes), but the
outer nature is naïve and unsuspecting.
He lacks the wisdom and alertness to protect himself, his woman, his
position from attack. The years in
prison impart that mental capacity which he lacked as a youth.
Mercedes is beautiful, but not capable of true loyalty while
Edmund is essentially loyal; therefore their marriage was broken. Mercedes who betrayed her oath never to
marry any man but Edmund, is married to Fernand who betrays his oath of loyalty
to Napoleon (deserting to England during the 100 days) and Ali Pacha.
Morrel and his son both undergo prolonged suffering before
Dantes restores good fortune to them (Morrel 90 days till the pronotes expire
and Maximillian 30 days during which he believes Valentine dead) – this
indicates their goodness was not an inherent natural possession, but something
acquired. Therefore life’s response is
At the age of 20, Edmund who was good, honest and noble,
lacked the knowledge of human nature, alertness, sagacity, and cunning
necessary to marry a beautiful woman
and assume a captaincy, both coveted by others with less scruples than himself. His arrest and imprisonment are a direct
result of this weakness in his character.
Dantes is charged with conspiring for Napoleon’s return. In fact it is true that he did serve that
purpose. The letter he delivered to the
Emperor helped Napoleon gain freedom from his island prison for a hundred
days. The price Dantes paid was years
of imprisonment on an island like
The death of Captain Le Clerc before he could deliver the
letter to Napoleon reflected the weight of that mission. Le Clerc was not strong enough to accomplish
it, Dantes was. Le Clerc paid with his
life; Dantes retained his life but lost everything else – his job, his love,
Napoleon’s letter to Noirtier never reached its
destination. It foreshadowed the
failure of Napoleon’s return. For a few
moments in his life a sailor named Dantes came face to face with Napoleon. Dantes’s later life – the knowledge and
wealth he attained – were reminiscent of a gift from the Emperor who possessed
both in great measure.
Dantes could not suppress his joy at Le Clerc’s death which made his promotion to Captain
certain. His joy brought Le Clerc’s
misfortune on Dantes in a different form. His premature joy evokes a hostile
reaction that deprives him of even what he had.
Dantes, like Othello, was overwhelmed by the ecstatic good
fortune that greeted his return to France – captaincy at the age of twenty and
marriage to a beautiful girl. He too
could not support that peak of joy and swiftly turned into an equal intensity
There was a close parallel between Dantes and Villefort. Both were at the beginning of a bright
career. Both met on their betrothal
days. What should have ended
Villefort’s career and marriage plans he used to fulfill his highest ambitions
by simultaneously destroying Dantes’ life and marriage. The letter Dantes received from the hands of
the Emperor brought Villefort into the presence and graces of King Louis
XVIII. One man’s fortune was another’s
What brought about Dantes’s fall? The negative atmosphere around his life, the jealousy of Danglars for his job and Fernand for his would-be
wife (and perhaps Caderousse for his wealth).
Dantes’s father nearly starved for want of money during Dantes last
voyage. It was an omen of things to come, for his father did starve to death.
Edmund failed to see the danger.
Napoleon returns to power, Morrel tries to assert his power as a Bonapartist
over Villefort in order to aid Dantes. But Villefort is more clever than Morrel
and matches his social assertion with a social bluff.
26. From the
moment of his arrest until his decision to starve to death in prison several
years after his arrival, Dantes life was in a steep decline. Suddenly when he was near his very last
breath, virtually dead, the pendulum began its upward swing beginning with the
sound of the Abbe’s digging. From then
on the climb was steady – the meeting with the Abbe, friendship, acquisition of
knowledge, the hope of the treasure, his escape to the island, the wreck of the
ship providing him wood to float on, the arrival of the smugglers’ ship just
before the discovery of his escape, his acceptance and survival with the
smugglers, the smugglers’ plan to land at Monte Cristo, the discovery of the
Jacobo is the one who pulls the drowning Dantes out of the
water, saving his life, and lends him some clothes. When Dantes is wounded by a
customs officer’s bullet while trading smuggled goods, Jacobo leaps to attend
on him with greatest concern. Dantes tests him by offering to give half his
prize money from the raid, but Jacobo refuses it. He is attracted to Dantes as
a superior man and natural leader. When Dantes is apparently injured on Monte
Cristo, Jacobo offers to relinquish his share in the smuggling venture to
remain and care for him. Dantes is struck by the loyalty and affection of the
smugglers for him. Later Jacobo becomes captain of Dantes boat.
When Dantes is wounded, he feels the joy of strength and says
“Pain, thou art not evil.” Pain has been the teacher that gave him knowledge,
strength and wealth. Therefore, in trying to help others—Morrel and Maximillian,
Dantes resorts to the only teacher he knows—pain.
treasure belonged to Cardinal Spada who dies of poisoning. It serves Dantes and
Haydee primarily as an instrument for vengeance.
escaping from prison, Dantes in disguise as the Abbe Busoni meets Caderousse
and tries to reward the outer action by presenting Caderousse with the diamond.
It brings out the evil in Caderousse and his wife and he responds directly by
murdering the jeweler. Caderousse ends up in prison and lives the rest of his
life as a criminal. For trying to give Caderousse what he did not deserve,
Caderousse tries to take his life when he stabs Abbe Busoni during his
attempted robbery of the Count’s house in Paris.
Dantes escapes and returns 20 years later, Morrel loses the Pharaon which
Dantes had sailed on and becomes bankrupt. This time he is able to express
genuine concern for his crew rather than his cargo and his wealth comes back to
him. He has acquired real goodness.
Mercedes’s son Albert had an aristocratic Parisian friend,
Franz, who stumbled on Monte Cristo’s island while in search of adventure and
was entertained by the Count in his grotto paradise. Later one night in the Coliseum, Franz overheard the Count
arranging with the outlaw Vampa for the release of a peasant who was sentenced
for execution in Rome. A day later
Franz recognized the Count in a box at the opera and learned that the Count was living on the same floor
of the same hotel as he and Albert in Rome. Still later, Albert is kidnapped by
Vampa. By what mechanism of life was Albert, Fernand’s son, put in intimate
contact with his father’s bitter enemy? The link was always a smuggler or
outlaw. Franz’s adventure on the Isle
of Monte Cristo was after warnings that it was a smuggler’s haven and with the
intention of dining with the smugglers on the shore to share their roast
goat. He dined with the Count instead,
who befriended smugglers and thieves.
The night he overhead the Count and Vampa at the Coliseum, it was after
he and Albert had been expressly warned of the danger of Vampa by their hotel
patron and they chose to ignore it.
Franz had been further warned of the Count’s links by the patron’s story
of the Count’s initial encounter with Vampa within hours befire Vampa became
chief of the bandits. Meeting the Count and exchanging gifts with him propelled
Vampa from mere shepherd to the top of the criminal profession!
The Countess G’s prescient fear of the Count and warning to
Franz and Franz’s own anxiety and discomfort
with the Count did not prevent he and Albert from availing of the Count’s
hospitality. Albert was finally
committed to return the Count’s kindness after the Count saved him from Vampa
and got him released. The Count had
innumerable links with the underworld including his rescue by the smugglers
after his escape from prison and the smuggler who employed as a steward. As an
outcaste and escaped criminal, Dantes felt a natural affinity with criminals.
The young men’s thirst for adventure brought them into touch with that world
and through it with the Count.
From Edmund’s side his very deep and intense craving to avenge
the evil done to him by Albert’s father and the others was an all-powerful
force that attracted the proper circumstances for their fulfillment.
Albert’s search for an illicit secret love affair led him into
Vampa’s trap – sex and crime are so closely linked.
The Countess’ instinctive repulsion to the Count who she feels
is a Vampire is actually an unconscious attraction. In Paris she unknowingly supports the Count’s entry in the horse
race which wins the cup and is intrigued when she finds the cup waiting for her
at her home.
is a good girl socially. She acts out with a sense of honesty, propriety and
goodwill. She seeks to be honest and fair with her cousin Fernand, she is
caring and concerned about Edmund’s father, she is affectionate with Edmund and
longs and suffers for him as well as herself when he is imprisoned. After
hearing the report of his fall into the sea, she dreams of his death every
night for years and later has herself painted as the Catalan girl in front of a
then does such a good, loyal girl end marrying a traitor like Fernand who is
capable of any betrayal? The principle is that when we live on the surface
we attract to ourselves that which is similar to our own nature. Thus, a
socially good Mercedes is attracted to Edmund who is psychologically good. But
her social goodness cannot fulfill his psychological need. Both he and she need
to evolve beyond their present attainments and neither can be the source of that
evolution for the other. Mercedes must outgrow the social goodness of being a
beautiful, happy loyal girl to become a psychological person. That requires
separation from that which would fulfill her socially. A deeper principle is
that when we are making a progress beyond the level of our present endowment we
attract that which is necessary to complete that progress, which is very often
the opposite of that which we are or possess. Mercedes marries a treacherous,
unscrupulous man incapable of the psychological feelings she is trying to
evolve. She develops and expresses them in her relationship with her son. Her
progress is from social goodness to psychological depth through a process of
estrangement, a marriage of form that lacks inner substance, the discovery of
Fernand’s betrayal and her renunciation of the title, wealth, property and
security he had given her in favor of real psychological right or goodness. The
strength she confesses to Edmund that she lacked at the time of his
imprisonment she acquired through her life and is now able to exercise to leave
Fernand. Had she possessed that inner goodness and strength at the outset, she
would not have needed to undergo that separation from Edmund.
his part, Edmund also needed to make a psychological progress from surface
attachment to deeper emotions. He is separated from all that he loves and
cherishes, but later forges a relationship with a real psychological
personality, Heidi, a woman capable of mature, deep emotions of loyalty and
devotion. Edmund is forced to give up the social forms of recognition, wife,
career and become a true psychological individual. When he makes that progress,
he meets and is loved by another psychological individual.
Cucumetto , the bandit chief, had raped Rita, the lover of his
gang member, Carlina. Carlina then killed Rita to save her the humiliation of
further molestation by the gang. Rita’s
father came and learning the facts killed himself. A few days later Cucumetto shot Carlina in the back anticipating
Carlina’s plan for revenge. Once when
Cucumetto was escaping from the soldiers he was hidden by the shepherd boy
Luigi Vampa and his girlfriend Teresa.
Luigi refused to turn him in despite the offer of a big reward.
Luigi and Teresa are invited to their master’s, Comte de San
Felice, masquerade ball. For want of a
fourth appropriate lady dancing partner, Teresa is invited to fill in and a
noblemen extends an amorous proposition to her. Overcome with jealousy, that night Luigi steals the Countess’
precious gown and jewels for Teresa.
When he gives the dress to Teresa, the Count happens to arrive asking
for directions. Luigi walks off to show
him the way and they exchange gifts of friendship. On his return Luigi sees Teresa being carried off by Cucumetto
and he kills Cucumetto with a bullet in the back just as Cucumetto had killed
Carlina. Luigi decides to become an
outlaw and is chosen as chief.
Carlina had learned that resorting to force as a way of life
also exposes what is dear to him to the same force. He and his love die for it, since he is not strong enough for
revenge. His revenge is fulfilled by
Vampa when Cucumetto tries to repeat the act against Teresa. Vampa’s initial encounter with the Count has
two immediate results. He loses Teresa only to recover her by homicide and he
becomes chief of the bandits. Again the
Count is linked to bandits. Sometime
later Vampa and ten of his gang try to capture the Count not recognizing him,
but the Count captures Luigi and his men, then lets them go in a show of
friendship. The Count is the only one
who has defeated the outlaw Vampa. Where does his power come from? It comes from being an outlaw himself of
greater energy and purpose; though like Luigi essentially not evil in nature.
The Count cements their relationship when he arranges for the
release of Pepino, an innocent shepherd boy who helped feed Vampa’s gang and
was sentenced to death for complicity with the bandits.
In return Vampa becomes an unconscious aid to the Count’s
scheme for revenge when Vampa kidnaps Albert and gives the Count the opportunity
to save Albert’s life by asking Vampa to release him, which he does. The Count’s life is in harmony with those of
other underworld characters.
He felt and expressed strong jealousy of Dantes when he
returns to port and is likely to be made Captain.
was not a conscious participant in Danglar’s plot against Edmund. He was drunk while the scheming took place,
but protested against the very suggestion of implementing it. When he realized Danglars has acted, he is
restrained by Danglar’s warning that he too may be arrested along with Dantes.
While Dantes was at sea, Caderousse demanded the return of his
loan to Edmund from Edmund’s father who by complying deprived himself of
sufficient money and nearly starved to death.
After Dantes’s imprisonment, his father did die of voluntary
starvation of which Caderousse was an innocent by-stander. Later Caderousse’s business failed, he
bought the Port de Gard tavern and became bankrupt. After the death of his first wife, he remarried and his second
wife got marsh fever which made her a half crippled, constantly suffering
At this moment when Caderousse had fallen to the very depths
and had nothing more to lose, Edmund returned disguised as the Abbe Busoni and
gave him the 50,000 franc jewel in return for the information about the others
which Caderousse rendered with honesty.
Instead of becoming a turning point in Caderousse’s life
leading to recovery and happiness as it did for Morrel’s family, the jewel
evoked their greed, and led to the jeweler’s murder, his wife’s death and
Caderousse’s conviction for life imprisonment.
Later he meets Benedetto and escapes.
did Dantes’ gift have such a different affect on Caderousse and Morrel? Because
Morrel was essentially positive, Caderousse essentially negative.
M. Morrel suffered a long downward spiral of fortune after Edmund’s
imprisonment. He made innumerable
attempts to discover Edmund’s fate and get him released, but to no avail. When Edmund’s father was short of funds,
Morrel left a purse of gold on his mantle.
Edmund returned fourteen years later when Morrel was on the
verge of bankruptcy. By purchasing
Morrel’s pro-notes from his creditors, Edmund saved him from the humiliation of
dishonouring his debts. The very moment
that they met, news came that Morrel’s last ship, the Pharaon - Edmund’s own – had sunk, and that Morrel
was broke. Edmund gave him three
month’s extension, then canceled the notes, gave a 100,000 franc diamond to
Morrel’s daughter as dowry and replaced the lost Pharaon with its cargo.
Morrel’s goodness is amply demonstrated not only by his
concern for Edmund’ father, but at his great joy on learning the crew of the
Pharaon had been save at the very moment
he believe he was totally
Until his death Morrel constantly sought to discover the
identity of his benefactor and came to suspect it was none other than
Edmund. So great was his desire to
discover and offer gratitude, that sure knowledge of that it was Edmund came as
an inspiration the moment before his death.
He was a Corsican smuggler whose brother, an officer in
Bonaparte’s army, was murdered by Royalists after the second restoration. When Bertuccio applied to Villefort for
legal action against the murders, he was roughly rebuffed. Bertuccio swore
revenge against Villefort. Three months later Bertuccio tracked Villefort to
his country house at Auteuil where
Villefort had gone for a rendezvous with Hermione de Nargonne (now Madame
Danglars after her first husband had died a few months earlier) who was about
to give birth to their illegitimate child.
When the child was born, Villefort thought it still-born or smothered it
(?) and buried it in the garden.
Bertuccio stabbed him, dug up the box and escaped only to discover he
was carrying a nearly dead infant.
Bertuccio’s sister-in-law (brother’s widow) raised the child,
Benedetto, with deep affection, but when the evil boy was in his late teens he
and a few friends attacked the woman who burned to death and they stole all
Bertuccio’s money and disappeared. Unknowingly
she was raising the means of avenging her husband’s death.
Bertuccio, a lucky smuggler, was one day nearly caught and
narrowly escaped to the Pont De Gard tavern run by Caderousse and concealed
himself in a closet under the stairway just in time to witness to arrival of
Caderousse and the jeweler who offered to buy the F50,000 diamond given
Caderousse by the Abbe (Edmund).
Bertuccio overheard Caderousse’s story and the theft which resulted in the
death of Caderousse’s wife and the jeweler while Caderousse escaped. Bertuccio was arrested by the customs
officers who overheard the shot nearby, was imprisoned for murder and released
when the Abbe came to confirm his story, then on the Abbe’s recommendation
joined up with the Count.
Benedetto became a criminal, joined the same prison as
Caderousse and later escaped.
Caderousse too later escaped and found Benedetto at Auteuil playing the
role of Andrea Cavalcanti which the
Count has established for him.
punished Edmund as a Bonapartist. He is
nearly assassinated and his affair with Hermione and infanticide are discovered
when he allows the murder of another Bonapartist to go free, thus evoking
Bertuccio, suffering from a similar offense by Villefort, is a
willing and suitable instrument for Edmund’s revenge. Villefort’s vulnerability arises from his own violation of law
and morals by his affair and attempted infanticide.
Napoleon’s letter which Dantes was carrying was for
Villefort’s father, Noirtier, making it imperative for Villefort to somehow
conceal the fact and resulting in Edmund’s imprisonment.
Just as Edmund is about to die of self-imposed starvation, he
hears the sound of Abbe Faria’s excavations and therefore decides to live. Knowledge, freedom and wealth follow.
Dantes is rescued from the sea after his escape from prison by
the sudden wreck of a fishing boat and the passing of a smugglers’ ship.
Disguised as a representative of a Roman banker, Dantes meets
Morrel on the very day Morrel’s last ship, Pharaon, is lost and Morrel is
ruined. (Dantes’s desire to repay Morrel’s help, brings him just at the most
Bertuccio swears revenge against Villefort, the same man
Dantes seeks, and discovers Villefort’s secret affair and infanticide
Bertuccio, trying to escape the customs agent, witnesses the
murder of the jeweler and Caderousse’s wife’s death. The storm outside conspires to aid Caderousse in his plot.
The Count meets Bertuccio and learns Villefort’s secret
through Bertuccio’s chance encounter with Caderousse and Bertuccio,s arrest.
The child Bertuccio saved, Benedetto, killed Bertuccio’s
sister-in-law as Benedetto’s father, Villefort, had condoned the murder of
Bertuccio meets Caderousse in prison.
also meets Caderousse in prison and later again in Paris.
arrives by chance at Monte Cristo isle and meets the Count – or is it by the
Albert and Franz reside on the same floor of the same hotel in
Rome as the Count - again perhaps the
Franz overhears the Count’s discussion with Vampa in the
Vampa’s meeting with the Count the first time coincides with
Cuccumetto’s kidnapping of Teresa and Vampa’s turning bandit.
Vampa’s kidnapping of Albert and Albert’s release by the Count
may have been contrived by the Count, but if so it is Albert who responds to
The flight of Madame
Danglar’s carriage with Madame Villefort and Edmund inside which Ali halted –
the Count’s contrivance surely since he returned the same horses to Madame
Danglars just hours before and he had Ali waiting for them to pass by.
In the early part of his life, Edmund is subject to the whims
of life – his captain’s death, Danglar’s plot, Villefort’s betrayal, Abbe’s
excavation. As the Count he learns to
drive life and make it respond to his wishes – Bertuccio, Albert, Franz, Benedetto all aid his plots.
Maximillian overhears the doctor inform Villefort that his
mother-in-law died of poisoning, (a
poison given to Villefort’s wife by the Count).
Madame Villefort, Villefort’s second wife, poisoned Marquis
Madame de Saint Meran, the parents of Villefort’s first wife, with poison that
Madame Villefort obtained from the Count.
The St. Meran’s were present at Villefort’s betrothal to Renee St Meran
at the time when Edmund was arrested.
The parents instinctively urged a severe punishment for the unknown
suspect, while the daughter who died after bearing Valentine, pleaded for
mercy. Even at her death, Madam St.
Meran sided with Villefort, urged Valentine’s immediate marriage to Franz which
opposes Valentine’s and Maximillian’s hopes.
The news of Marquis de St. Meran’s death came at the Mercerf’s
ball at the moment that Edmund and Mercedes are talking privately for the first
time. Their meeting signals the
beginning of calamity in Villefort’s house.