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

CHAPTER 70 - The Ball

Summary

Although initially hesitant to attend the Morcerf ball, Madame Danglars agrees to go upon Villefortís request. Albert makes small talk with Madame Danglars when she arrives, and then speaks to Madame de Villefort, who relates all her newly- acquired information regarding the Countís true name and heritage. She tells Albert that the information was researched by the police because of the Countís high profile in Paris. The Count tells Danglars that a Frankfurt bank has just gone bankrupt, which makes Danglars very upset as they owe him 200,000 francs. Danglars then leaves to speak to Andrea Cavalcanti, and Madame de Morcerf (Mercédès) notices that the Count refuses to eat anything in the house, despite her trying to persuade him. She feels strongly that his refusal to eat anything in the house is intended.

Notes

According to Eastern custom, the Count refuses to take any refreshment in the house of his enemy. While making the Count an "avenging angel of God", Dumas fuses Eastern and Western philosophies for revenge, borne in large part by his fascination with the Arabian Nights.

CHAPTER 71 - Bread & Salt

Summary

Madame de Morcerf asks the Count to escort her outside and again tries to get him to eat some fruit, but he refuses. She then asks him whether he is happy and if he is married, and he replies that he once loved a girl, but war carried him away and she married someone else. Madame de Morcerf asks significantly whether he ever forgave the girl, while hating those that separated them. The Count appears not to understand why he should hate the people that separated them, but acknowledges he forgave his first love. Albert arrives with the news that everyone has just learned that M. de Saint-Méran, Valentineís grandfather on her motherís side, has just died and that the Villeforts are leaving.


Notes

In keeping with the theme of the previous chapter, Mercédès is suspicious of the Count when she says, "ĎCount...there is a beautiful Arabian custom, which makes eternal friends of those who have together eaten bread and salt under the same roof.í ĎI know it, madame,í replied the count; Ďbut we are in France, and not in Arabia, and in France eternal friendships are as rare as the custom of dividing bread and salt with one another.í" We learn, however, that the Count has forgiven Mercédès - likely from the realization that she too was deceived and played no part in his betrayal.

CHAPTER 72 - Madame de Saint-Méran

Summary

Villefort had not gone to the ball, but stayed home to think and review a private list of those people who, throughout his life, had become his enemies. He is stumped as to who could have waited so patiently to crush him with his secret, and what role the Count of Monte Cristo has to play in the scheme. Madame de Saint- Méran arrives with the news that her husband has died of an apparently apoplectic stroke while they were en route to Paris for Valentineís wedding. Villefort leaves immediately for the ball to bring his wife and Valentine back to comfort his first mother-in- law.

The next day, Madame de Saint-Méran becomes very ill and wishes to meet Franz díEpinay and to hasten Valentineís marriage as she believes she does not have much longer to live. In particular, she believes she saw the ghost of the soul of her husband enter her room the previous night. Valentine considers telling her grandmother the truth about her wishes to marry, but knows that she will not approve of Morrel as he is not noble. A notary arrives so that Madame de Saint-Méran can ensure that the Saint-Méran fortune goes to Valentine. A doctor then arrives to see Madame de Saint-Méran. Valentine, very upset, goes to the garden to try to pull herself together.

Notes

In this chapter is the first hint that there may be a murderer at work in the Villefort home.

CHAPTER 73 - The Promise

Summary

Valentine tells Morrel that according to her grandmotherís wishes, her marriage contract will be signed as soon as Franz arrives in a few days. Morrel is desperate and hopes that Valentine will resist the marriage by leaving the country with him, but she cannot imagine defying her familyís wishes. Morrel is desolate and tells Valentine he intends to take his own life if she marries as she is the only happiness in his life. Horrified, Valentine makes him promise that he will wait until she figures out a way out of the marriage with Franz. The two make plans to escape if necessary. Two days later, Morrel receives a letter from Valentine saying that she has been unsuccessful at delaying or stopping the marriage and that the contract will be signed that evening; the two will then escape together just before the planned contract signing.

That night at the appointed time for the escape, Valentine does not appear and Morrel learns by eavesdropping on Villefort and the doctor that Madame de Saint- Méran has died. The doctor tells Villefort in confidence that her death is suspicious and that the symptoms of her death resemble poisoning by brucine or strychnine. Villefort refuses to believe she has been poisoned and, rather than cause an embarrassing public inquest, the doctor agrees to hide his suspicions. Morrel sneaks into the house to comfort Valentine, who tells him that the contract signing has only been delayed, and she then sneaks him into Noirtierís room. Noirtier and Morrel meet, and Valentine tells her grandfather that they are in love. She leaves the two men alone to speak and Morrel tells Noirtier of the plans for his and Valentineís escape. Noirtier insists they must not escape and he promises to help them if they wait a bit longer.

Notes

Like his father years before, Morrel is contemplating suicide - in this case due to his extreme unhappiness over losing the woman he loves. Once again, the Count will prove to be Morrelís saviour as he is maintains a high level of affection for the Morrels. Villefortís ambition and fear of embarrassment prevents him from having the doctor investigate the suspected poisoning in his home, and which will ultimately lead to more deaths in his home - proving once again that Villefortís own ambition will ultimately come back to haunt him.

CHAPTER 74 - The Villefort Family Vault

Summary

Two days later, the funerals of both Saint-Mérans take place. Morrel is introduced to Franz and Franz goes to the Villeforts after the funeral. Franz and Villefort agree that the marriage contract will be signed later that day, and Franz leaves to get Albert de Morcerf and Château-Renaud as his witnesses. The ceremony begins within an hour. As it begins, Noirtierís servant interrupts and states that Noirtier wants to speak to Franz immediately. Despite Villefortís objections, Franz agrees to see Noirtier.

Notes

In this chapter, we further see the extent of Villefortís own ambitions despite the effect that they have on his family members.

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