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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 53 - Robert le Diable
That night, Lucien Debray (who is well known as Madam Danglarsí lover) escorts Madame Danglars and her daughter Eugénie to the Opera. The Count, Haidee, Albert de Morcerf and Château-Renaud are also all at the Opera. Albert introduces Château-Renaud to the Countess that he and Franz had met in Italy. Château-Renaud tells Morcerf that the winner of the horse races that day was an unknown horse and jockey entered under the name "Vampa", which Albert recognizes as belonging to the Count. Albert confesses to Château-Renaud his general unhappiness with his arranged marriage to Eugénie Danglars, who is known to be very independent, artistically inclined and somewhat masculine. The Countess tells the two men that the jockeyís prize from that afternoon had been delivered to her home, possibly because her fear of the Count in Italy had been reported by Albert. Albert and Château-Renaud then visit the Danglarsí and Debray, where they all discuss their fascination with the Count and Haidee.
Albert then visits the Count in his opera box, who is pleased to hear about the general curiosity surrounding him. The Count then visits the Danglarsí and Debray, who have, by this time, been joined by the Count of Morcerf, Albertís father. Everyone is alarmed when, from the other side of the room, Haidee reacts violently to seeing the Count of Morcerf. When the Count returns to Haidee, he informs her that the Count of Morcerf has just admitted that he owes his fortune to Ali Tepelini, Haideeís father. Haidee is outraged and asks the Count whether he is aware that the Count of Morcerf made his fortune by selling her father to the Turks in a treacherous act. The Count professes to know very little of this and agrees to leave with the very upset Haidee.
Dumas using the real opera "Robert le Diable" as the backdrop for this chapter, in itself interesting because we know the Countís appearance (and sometimes his actions) resemble that of a vampire. The Count and Haidee are making all the right appearances in Parisian society and it is in this chapter that we learn Haidee will play a role in the Countís revenge, as she reacts violently to seeing Fernand de Morcerf, the betrayer of her father. Interestingly, both Villefort and Fernand went on to commit other atrocities after their betrayal of Dantès - further proving their "evil natures". The Count, of course, pretends he is unaware of Fernandís history or of Haideeís.
CHAPTER 54 - A Flurry of Stocks
Some days later, Albert and Debray visit the Count, and they discuss the marriage match between Albert and Eugénie Danglars, which neither Albert nor his mother Mercédès particularly approve of, although Albert does not know why his mother does not like the idea. Debray remarks that the Danglarsí made a good amount of money by cleverly buying and selling Haitian bonds the day before. Lucien, as the ministerís secretary, certainly passes on political news to Madam Danglars, which she then uses to play the stock market. Debray, suddenly uncomfortable about his relationship with Madame Danglars being discussed, leaves. The Count warns Albert about a dinner he will hold soon to which he will invite the de Villeforts, the Danglars and the de Morcerfs, giving Albert and his mother the opportunity to come up with a previous excuse to avoid the Danglars. The Count tells Albert that he cannot have dinner with him and his mother that evening as he is expecting two minor acquaintances, Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and his son Andrea.
The Count tells Albert he is going to act as a sort of host for Andrea as the young, rich and famous Cavalcanti makes his entry into the Parisian world. Albert gives Count Franzí regards from Italy, noting that the intended marriage between Franz and Valentine de Villefort is also not a particularly happy match. The Count gives Bertuccio instructions to arrange the house in Auteuil appropriately for the dinner that he will host there that weekend, but does not tell Bertuccio who he is expecting for dinner.
The Count is gaining the trust of everyone, particularly Albert, who informs him that his mother does not like the Danglars "for some reason". The Count is very interested to know what Mercédès thinks of him, and is surprised to learn she has taken an interest in him. Speaking of the Cavalcantis who will soon enter Parisian society, the Count immediately states that they are not old friends, and that he is only a guide for the younger Cavalcanti. Knowing that these men will prove to be frauds and that he will use them for his revenge, the Count wishes to keep his own reputation unblemished and to distance himself from his having used them in his plans. The Count further becomes convinced of Debrayís influence on Madame Danglars, and thus his influence on Danglarsí fortune.
For the second time here, Dumas has the Count make reference to Lucullus, a Roman general and consul, famous for his luxurious banquets. The first occasion was during the evening he first met Franz in his cave. Interestingly, Lucullus once fought Mithradates VI - a man legendarily immune to poisons, and a person of great interest to Madame de Villefort. Dumas is using ancient Roman history to impart an almost mythical and legendary quality to the Count and his contemporaries.
CHAPTER 55 - Major Cavalcanti
Major Cavalcanti arrives at the Countís and is very nervous. The Count asks him several questions regarding his identity, and "confirms" his name and position as an ex-major in the Austrian service. However, Major Cavalcanti himself appears to be unsure of the details and is also confirming his identity and getting the story straight. The two decide/agree that the Major has been sent to the Count by the Abbé Busoni, and the two have a very strange and humourous conversation recapping the details and events of the Majorís "life" including the size of his fortune and the "fact" that he has but one wish - to "recover a lost and adored son stolen away in infancy at the age of five years" by an unknown person.
The letter that the Major presents from the Abbé also asks the Count, as the Abbe's friend, to advance the Major a sum of money while in Paris, which he needs. After confirming all details with the Major concerning his identity and the clothing that he should wear while in Paris, the Count announces that he has located the Majorís son as a happy and convenient surprise, and leaves to fetch him in the next room as he has just arrived.
This chapter further delves into the intricacies of the Countís plans for revenge, and proves him extremely manipulative. Again, he has used his Abbé Busoni disguise to bring "Major Cavalcanti" to him.
CHAPTER 56 - Andrea Cavalcanti
In the next room, the Count meets Andrea Cavalcanti, who presents the Count with a letter of introduction from Lord Wilmore. Upon being asked, Andrea gives an account of his life and search for his father, which exactly matches the story discussed by the Count with the Major. The Count gains Andreaís assurance that his rather "rough" history will not interfere with his intended position in Paris, and then assures Andrea that his "father" will give him 50,000 francs for his year in Paris. The Count then permits the "Major" and "his son" to meet, while spying on them from the next room. The meeting is stiff and awkward and the Major gives Andrea his birth documents, previously supplied by the Count, and finally Andrea asks the Major how much he is being paid, and whether the Major believes the two of them can trust the Count. The two compare their letters from the Abbé Busoni and Lord Wilmore, which are very alike and which offer them both money and a story to present to the Count on this date. The two agree to play their parts as well as they can and the Count returns, asking them both to be present and appropriately dressed for his dinner party in Auteuil on Saturday.
In the case of Andrea, the Count used his Lord Wilmore disguise to bring Andrea/Benedetto into his plot. (Reader does not yet know this is Benedetto) This chapter is unique in that it shows Dumasí sense of humor: the method in which the Count manipulates the characters allows for a brilliantly forced and completely contrived conversation between the "Major" and his "son". While using these men, the Count is disgusted by them because he knows their backgrounds: "I think that disgust is even more sickening than hatred."