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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 50 - The Morrel Family
The Count visits the Morrel family house, where Maximilan, his sister Julie and her husband Emmanuel and two servants are living. Julie and her husband live on a modest yearly sum from the now sold family business. When the Count remarks how happy the Morrels appear, they tell him the story of the "angel" who once saved their familyís fortunes so many years ago, and the Count secretly blushes. They stress that they have many times sought the English man who helped save their father from ruin and suicide, but have never succeeded in discovering who it was that helped them as they have only the name, "Sinbad the Sailor", that he gave them.
The Count becomes nervous when he thinks that Julie is staring at him too closely, and tells the family that he knew a man named Lord Wilmore who had performed good deeds such as this one, and described him perfectly as the man who may have been responsible, telling them that Wilmore had left on a journey and was unlikely to return. Maximilian then tells the Count that on his deathbed, his father had attributed the kind deed to an old friend, Edmond Dantès, which makes the Count pale, and he immediately leaves.
This chapter serves to show the Countís gentle and kind side, which has obviously not yet entirely been subjugated by his desire to punish and harm. Of course, this kindness is reserved for the Morrels, those that he feels are deserving. He insists that the Morrels not discover it was he that helped them years earlier, and lies to protect his secret, preferring to be a "silent agent" of God.
CHAPTER 51 - Pyramus & Thisbe
Valentine de Villefort (Villefortís daughter) and Maximilian Morrel meet secretly and are obviously in love, despite Morrelís concern that he is not socially or financially worthy of Valentine. Morrel has even bought an abandoned property adjoined to the de Villefort house so that the two can meet easily and speak over the adjoining gate. Valentine expresses frustration with her arranged engagement to Franz díEpinay (who is due to return from his travels in about a year), her neglect by her father and the harshness of her stepmother due to preference for Edward.
Valentineís only happiness comes from Morrel and her disabled and now mute grandfather, Noirtier. Valentine believes her stepmother hates her because of the fortune she will inherit. Valentine asks Morrel whether, when both their families lived in Marseilles, there was ever any misunderstanding between their fathers, as she has noticed that the name Morrel appears to make both her father and Baron Danglars uncomfortable. Morrel is not aware of any misunderstanding, but is pleased to hear that Noirtier expresses kind feelings for the Morrel family. The two part when Valentine is advised that the Count of Monte Cristo has arrived.
The names Pyramus and Thisbe refer to a famous and doomed couple taken from the Metamorphoses by Ovid. It is upon this same couple that Shakespeare based Romeo and Juliet. The title of this chapter therefore foreshadows the fate of the couple, though not entirely. Valentine and Morrel are another couple in love, forbidden by their stations in life to be together who meet, like Pyramus and Thisbe, over a wall adjoining their houses. It is clear in this chapter that Valentine is aware that her stepmother dislikes her, which will become important. Further, we learn via Valentine that the name "Morrel" makes both her father Villefort and Danglars tremble - evidence of the guilt they feel (or perhaps only fear of being reminded of their pasts) over their actions in regards to Dantès.
CHAPTER 52 - Toxicology
The Count again meets Madame de Villefort and her son Edward, who is obviously spoiled by his mother. The Count recollects having seen Valentine and her stepmother in Naples two years before and when Madame de Villefort does not remember the Count, he reminds her that he had been dressed as a medicine man while healing his valet de chambre of a fever. Madame de Villefort appears uneasy when reminded of this meeting, and the Count further reminds her that she had asked his opinion regarding Valentineís health, at which point Madame de Villefort changes the subject and sends Valentine away to feed Noirtier.
With Valentine absent, the two discuss the Countís knowledge of poisons, the topic that had initially interested Madame de Villefort when they first met in Italy. It is clear that Madame de Villefort knows a great deal about poisons and is anxious to learn more, particularly regarding brucine, which the Count gladly explains. Madame de Villefort recalls the vial that the Count used days earlier to revive her son when he fainted as a result of the speeding horses, and the Count offers to send her some, while cautioning that too large a dose would be poisonous. The Count leaves to take Haidee to the Opera.
Again we note the Countís craftiness as he speaks to Madame de Villefort. He has met her years before and knows that she is interested in poisons, but pretends that he does not think there is anything sinister about this interest as he thinks it may serve his purposes at a later time. "Good, this is a fruitful soil, and I feel certain that the seed sown will not be cast on barren ground."