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Free Study Guide-The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas-Summary
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The novel takes place almost entirely in France, initially at Marseilles on the southern coast of France. When Edmond Dantès is sent to the Chateau díIf, a political prison, he is imprisoned on a small island just off the southern coast of France. After escaping the prison some years later, Dantès spends some time on the Island of Monte Cristo, a small island between Italy and Corsica. Dantès will meet two characters (Albert de Morcerf and Franz díEpinay) in Rome, Italy, and the rest of the novel is primarily set in Paris, although the last few chapters return full circle to be set again in Marseilles.

The characters are almost all French or Corsican, and the novel begins on February 24, 1815, around the time of Napoleonís defeat at Waterloo. The French King has just been restored to the throne and is anxious to hang onto his power, which has been in jeopardy since the French Revolution of 1789. The novel spans a time period of about 20-25 years, ending sometime in the 1840s. During this time, Napoleon will return briefly to power for a period known as the 100 Days, after which the monarchy will again gain power.

LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major Characters

Edmond The/The Count of Monte Cristo/The Abbé Busoni/Lord Wilmore

Born Edmond Dantès, the latter three names are aliases and/or disguises that Edmond will use in his pursuit of revenge on his enemies. He is nineteen years old and naive at the beginning of the novel, and will be betrayed by his enemies, namely, Danglars, Fernand, Villefort and Caderousse, and will be forced to spend 14 years of his life in prison. When he finally escapes, Edmond is a new man, set on vengeance, who will systematically punish each one of the people he considers evil. The aliases all provide specific advantages in various cases, e.g. the title of Count of Monte Cristo, which Edmond will purchase, will permit him to ensure entry to Parisí high society, where his enemies are all currently installed. The Abbé disguise is one that permits him to gain the trust of others, and the "Lord Wilmore" disguise is used mainly to conduct business. A "good" character.


M. Gerard de Villefort

Villefort is a staunch royalist, and a public prosecutor with heavy ambitions at the outset of the novel when he is about 27 years of age. He will betray Edmond and have him thrown in jail in order to secure his own ambition: to be a favoured prosecutor and judge of the King. Although a public prosecutor, Villefort commits a number of crimes himself, and will ultimately be punished by Edmond and go mad. Although his father Noirtier is a Bonapartiste, he will use the name "Villefort" to distance himself from his father as he is himself a royalist. He will marry twice and has two children. A "bad" character.

Madame Héloise de Villefort

She is Villefortís second wife and is about 25 years old. She will methodically poison her husbandís in-laws from his first marriage, her father-in-lawís servant, and will attempt to murder her stepdaughter Valentine and her father-in-law Noirtier in an attempt to make her son Edward the only surviving Villefort heir. Upon being discovered in her plans by her husband, she will kill herself and her son.

M. Gaspard Caderousse

Originally Dantèsí neighbor and a tailor of about 25-26 years of age, Caderousse is a greedy and inadvertent accomplice to Fernand and Danglars in their anonymous denouncement to Villefort of Dantès as a Bonapartiste and traitor to the Crown. Caderousse will spend time in jail for his greed, and although "Lord Wilmore" will help him escape jail, his greed is insatiable and he will die while trying to rob the Count of Monte Cristo. A "bad" character.

Mercedes Herrera/The Countess de Morcerf

Originally a 17-year-old Catalane and Dantèsí fiancée at the beginning of the novel, she will be an unwilling dupe in Dantèsí betrayal and will eventually marry Fernand, one of Dantèsí main betrayers whose actions are prompted by his desire to win her love. Her son is Albert. A "good" character.

Fernand Mondego/The Count de Morcerf

Originally a 20-22 year old Catalan in love with Mercedes, Dantèsí fiancée, he will cooperate with Danglars to denounce Dantès as a traitor to the Crown in order to gain Mercedesí love for himself. He will betray his benefactor in Greece, Ali Tepelini (the Pasha), and will sell the Pashaís wife and daughter (Haidee) into slavery. He will eventually marry Mercedes and become a rich and respected Count in Paris and a peer of France. He will be punished by the Count and abandoned by his wife and son when they learn of his two betrayals and he will commit suicide. A "bad" character.

M. Danglars/Baron Danglars

Originally the supercargo on the same ship as Dantès and aged about 25-26 years, his jealousy of Dantèsí good fortune and position will prompt him to entice Fernand to join him in denouncing Dantès as a traitor to the Crown. Later, Danglars will serve in the governmentís opposition (Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and member of the Chamber of Deputies) and will be a well-known, respected, and extremely wealthy banker and baron. His greed and ambition will result in his severe punishment by Dantès. He is married twice and has one daughter. A "bad" character.

Madame Hermine Danglars

Daughter of the Kingís chamberlain (her maiden name is de Servieux), she is Danglarsí second wife. She herself has been married once before to the Colonel the Marquis of Nargonne (who committed suicide), whom she cheated on by having an affair with Villefort. The two had a child together (Benedetto/Andrea) that Villefort buries alive and the affair remains a secret. She is having an affair with Lucien Debray. Her daughter is Eugenie. A "bad" character.

M. Morrel

Dantèsí employer and the owner of the Pharaon. He has a thriving shipping business called "Morrel & Son" at the beginning of the novel, but over the course of the years he will become ruined through his own bad luck. One of the "good" characters in the novel, he will be rewarded for his friendship and goodness by Dantès.

M. Maximilian Morrel

Initially in Marseilles, Maximilian is 22 years old, a strong- minded, upright and a hard studier with a reputation as "the stoic". Years later in Paris, Morrel is 30 years old and an army Captain of Spahis. He is one of Dantèsí only friends and is in love with Valentine de Villefort. A "good" character.

Haidee Tepelini

She is about 20 years old and is the daughter of Ali Tepelini, the Greek pasha betrayed to the Turks by Fernand and then sold into slavery by him. She will be purchased by Dantès for his plans to ruin Fernand, and she will ultimately reveal Fernandís betrayal to the house of Peers where he will be found guilty and ruined. At the end of the novel, she and Dantès fall in love and begin a happy new life together. A "good" character.

M. de Noirtier

Villefortís father, a Senator and a staunch Bonapartist. He will kill General Quesnel, Franz díEpinayís father, in a duel, and will also suffer a stroke which paralyses him. He is a protective grandfather to Valentine. A "good" character.

Albert de Morcerf

The son of Mercedes and Fernand, he is initially an arrogant young man, engaged to marry Eugenie Danglars. Through his friendship with the Count of Monte Cristo and his discovery of the betrayals of his father, he and his mother will set out to make a new name for themselves free from the taint of his fatherís past. A "good" character.

Benedetto/Andrea Cavalcanti

The illegitimate child of Villefort and Madame Danglars that is buried alive by Villefort and rescued by Bertuccio. Growing up, he will be a thief and murderer and makes friends with Caderousse while the two are in jail together. The Count of Monte Cristo will track him down in jail and use him in his revenge upon Villefort. Upon arriving in Paris and according to the Count of Monte Cristoís instructions, he will assume the name "Andrea Cavalcanti" and will ultimately be punished for his evil nature. A "bad" character.

Valentine de Villefort

Villefortís daughter by his first wife. Despite her fatherís corruption, she is a good person and, although engaged to marry Franz díEpinay, she is secretly in love with Maximilian Morrel. Her stepmother will attempt to kill her. A "good" character.

Minor Characters

Abbé Faria

The Abbé who becomes Dantèsí friend while they are in prison. He will teach Dantès about God, providence, patience, education and learning, hope and strength. He will serve as Dantèsí major inspiration and will influence the man that Dantès will become. Although he dies in prison, he tells Dantès where to find a magnificent treasure, hidden on the Island of Monte Cristo.

Julie Morrel

Maximilianís sister.

Emmanuel Herbault

Julieís husband.

Edward de Villefort

Villefortís young son by his second wife. He is spoiled by his mother.

Eugenie Danglars

The daughter of Baron and Madame Danglars. She is initially engaged to marry Albert, but then becomes engaged to Benedetto/Andrea Cavalcanti as her father thinks Andrea has more money. She is a fiercely independent woman who would prefer not to marry at all.

Franz díEpinay

The son of General Quesnel, who was originally killed in a duel by Noirtier. He is engaged to be married to Valentine but will cancel the marriage when he learns that his father was killed by Valentineís grandfather. Albertís close friend and travelling companion in Italy.

Bertuccio

The Count of Monte Cristoís Corsican steward, and the adoptive father of Benedetto/Andrea. Bertuccio was also betrayed by Villefort and will figure into the Countís revenge plans for Villefort and Benedetto.

Lucien Debray

He is a private secretary to the French Minister of the Interior and he is also Madame Danglarsí lover. The two of them are using Debrayís political intelligence to play the stock market with Danglarsí money and are amassing a huge fortune.

Beauchamp - a journalist/editor for one of the major Parisian newspapers, he primarily writes articles which are critical of the government.

The Count de Château-Renaud

About 30 years of age, he is a noble in Paris by birth, and is saved by Morrel while in Africa.

Old Dantès

Dantèsí father, he will die of starvation soon after Dantès is imprisoned.

Luigi Vampa

An Italian bandit, he is a friend of the Count of Monte Cristo.

Renee de Saint-Méran

Villefortís first wife and Valentineís mother.

M. and Madame de Saint-Méran

Reneeís parents and Valentineís grandparents. They will be killed by Villefortís second wife.

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