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Free Study Guide-The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas-Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

CHAPTER 17 - The Abbe's Chamber

Summary

The two men go to the Abbe's cell where Dantès is shown the Abbe's method for telling time by the light on the wall. He also sees the Abbe's handcrafted tools and inventions including homemade ink, made with blood and ashes. Dantès explains his history and arrest and the Abbé then walks Dantès through the details leading up to Dantèsí arrest, urging Dantès to think logically when considering the facts of the case. With the Abbe's help, Dantès sees clearly that Fernand, Danglars and Villefort have all benefited by his imprisonment. He learns from the Abbé that Noirtier is Villefortís father, and Dantès retires to his cell in a state of shock and revelation. Dantès becomes set on vengeance, and although the Abbé is disappointed with Dantèsí resolution for revenge, he agrees to teach Dantès as much as he knows, believing it will take about two years.

A year afterwards, the two men plot a new escape and plan to bind and gag the sentinel without killing him. Another 15 months pass and the two prepare to escape when the Abbé suffers a terrible seizure. Directing Dantès to treat him with a red liquid in his cell, he is saved, but remains paralyzed, telling Dantès to escape without him, which Dantès, in his devotion to the Abbé, refuses to do. The Abbé accepts his refusal and the two hide their escape passage. Remarking upon Dantèsí obedience and respect, the Abbé asks Dantès to return the following day as he has something of great importance to tell him.


Notes

Dantèsí own learning process begins to take place in this chapter, beginning foremost with his realization that he was betrayed, and by whom. His naiveté has come to an end and he has begun to consider vengeance. Despite Dantèsí new sentiments of hatred, we know that he still maintains some of his original character, evidenced by his loyalty to Faria.

CHAPTER 18 - The Treasure

Summary

The Abbé tells Dantès about a great treasure, which had once belong to Caesar Spada, an ancestor of the Cardinal Spada, for whom the Abbé worked. Faria found the directions to the treasure and has painstakingly solved the riddle around the directions to it. Dantès is initially reluctant to believe the story but soon becomes convinced, particularly by the scrap of paper with the directions to the treasure. The Abbé tells Dantès that should the two ever escape the prison, they will share the treasure, but that if Dantès must escape alone, the treasure will be all his. The Abbé assures Dantès that the treasure has no living heirs and should amount to almost 13 million francs. The Abbé had intended to test Dantèsí character before telling him of the treasure, but now considers Dantès a son and trusts Dantès to take them both to the Island should they escape. Dantès is overcome by the gesture.

Notes

Dumas recounts the Italian history of the treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo which will eventually render Dantès incredibly wealthy. The fact that there are no heirs to the treasure is taken as a sign from God by Dantès, who begins to believe in his own role as Godís agent of vengeance. The vengeance is to be accomplished with the money. This chapter also marks the first reference to the Arabian Nights, the text from which Dumas drew a large part of this novel in terms of customs, riches, fashions and behaviour. As always, Dumas also uses the history of real persons (in this case the Italians Caesar Borgia, Cardinal Spada, Cardinal Rospigliosi) to lend credibility to his story.

CHAPTER 19 - The Third Attack

Summary

Recalling the oath of vengeance he has taken on his enemies, Dantès reflects on how much power the money would give him. As Dantès is familiar with the Island of Monte Cristo, the two men draw plans to recover the treasure and Dantès memorizes the directions so that half the letter can be destroyed. Time passes and the Abbe's health does not improve, and he has a third and fatal attack. Despite Dantès attempts to save the Abbé, his worst fears are confirmed when he hears the prison officials pronounce the Abbé officially dead, verified by pressing burning irons to his flesh. The officials place the body in a sack and leave, stating their intent to return later that night to bury the body.

Notes

Dantès gains four things from the Abbé: a friend in whom he can believe, the treasure that will define his life when he escapes, a renewed trust in God, and "the rays of intelligence you have elicited from my brain, the languages you have implanted in my memory, and which have taken root there with all their philological ramifications." We also learn that Dantès is willing to fight to save the Abbé out of loyalty rather than let him die to keep the treasure for himself, suggesting that monetary interests will never take precedence in Dantèsí life over his own principles. This character trait is not one possessed by Fernand, Danglars, Villefort or Caderousse.

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