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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The Count of Monte Cristo is essentially an adventure story that gleans its appeal from its elements of intrigue, betrayal, revenge and punishment - elements that appeal to nearly all readers. The plot follows a chronological order and is frequently supplemented and complemented by historical references relating to French political events taking place during the time in which the novel is set, and these historical references serve to support many of the events and actions within the novel (such as the Kingís fear of Napoleonís return and its effect on Villefortís career) but also serve to provide a level of realism not found in many other novels.
The plot is neatly broken into four general sections:
1) The initial introduction of Dantès, a naive, innocent and happy man
2) A depressed and betrayed Dantès, learning about the nature of man while in prison
3) A grimly determined Count of Monte Cristo, wreaking vengeance on his enemies
4) The resolution of The/The Countís plans for revenge, and his acceptance of the past and steps for the future.
The Countís personal journey and quest for vengeance makes up the bulk of the novel and also generally contains the climax of the novel, where all the Countís preparation for his time in Paris has been painstakingly planned for years. In some senses, the plot and conflict is tied up a little too neatly, in that other "evil" characters (e.g. Benedetto), remarkably related to other "evil" characters, get caught up in the action and are also neatly punished, or in that the Count meets forms relationships with people who are fundamental for his revenge plans, sometimes years before his plans are actually put into action (e.g. Madame de Villefort, Haidee, Albert de Morcerf).
In general, however, most scenes and chapters become fascinating as one realizes they tie into the Countís plans for revenge, particularly as disparate events which seem unimportant (e.g. The detailed description of the bandit Luigi Vampa and his relationship with the Count) become suddenly clear in purpose.
After carrying out his plans for revenge which are effected (almost) perfectly, the novel ends on a note of hope, in stark contrast to the sometimes dark and sinister chapters which have made up the majority of the novel. In this sense the novel has a "happy" ending, but manages to avoid the cliché of the happy ending by having the Count disappear with the woman he has recently realized he loves, probably never to be seen again.