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The Count of Monte Cristo ( ) is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It is often considered to be, along with The Three Musketeers, Dumas' most popular work. The writing of the work was completed in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from the plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.

The story takes place in Francemarker, Italymarker, islands in the Mediterraneanmarker and the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838 (from just before the Hundred Days through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. It is primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, forgiveness and death, and is told in the style of an adventure story.

Background to the plot

Dumas has himself indicated (see the introduction of the Pléiade edition of Le comte de Monte-Cristo (1981)) that he had the idea for the revenge in The Count of Monte Cristo from a story which he had found in a manuscript compiled by Jacques Peuchet, a French police archivist. Dumas included this essay in one of the editions from 1846. Besides that, none of the works of Jacques Peuchet were published until after his death. Peuchet related the tale of a shoemaker named Pierre Picaud, who was living in Nimes in 1807. Picaud had been engaged to marry a rich woman, but three jealous friends falsely accused him of being a spy for England. He was imprisoned for seven years. During his imprisonment a dying fellow prisoner bequeathed him a treasure hidden in Milanmarker. Picaud was released in 1814. He took possession of the treasure and returned under another name to Parismarker. Picaud spent ten years plotting his successful revenge against his former friends. In another of the "True Stories.." Peuchet relates the tale of a terrible affair of poisoning in a family. This story, also quoted in the Pleiade edition, has obviously served as model for the chapter of the murders inside the Villefort family. The introduction to the Pleiade edition mentions other sources from real life: the abbé Faria really existed and died in 1819 after a life with much resemblance to that of the Faria in the novel. As for Dantès, his fate is quite different from his model in Peuchet's manuscript, since the latter is murdered by the "Caderousse" of the plot. But Dantès has "alter egos" in two other works of Dumas: First in "Pauline" from 1838, then, more significantly, in "Georges" from 1843 where a young man with black ancestry is preparing a revenge against white people who had humiliated him.

Historical background

The success of Monte Cristo coincides with that of France's Second Empire and besides the description of the return of Napoleon I in 1815 Dumas gives at least one hint to the events: the governor at the Château d'If is promoted to a position at the castle of Ham.The attitude of Dumas towards the "bonapartisme" was extremely complicated and involved. This conflict dates back to his father who was a coloured man, born by a slave and who became a famous general during the revolution. When new racist laws were applied in 1802 the general was dismissed from the army and he was profoundly bitter towards Napoleon when he died in 1806. An event in 1840 renewed the patriotic support for the Bonaparte family in the population: the ashes of Napoleon I were brought to France and became object of veneration in the church of Les Invalidesmarker.

In "Causeries" from 1860, Dumas prints a short paper on the genesis of Monte-Cristomarker. This essay, called "État civil du "Comte de Monte-Cristo"" is included in the Pléiade edition (Paris, 1981) as an "annexe". It appears that Dumas had close and intimate contacts with members of the Bonaparte family while living in Florence in 1841. In a small boat he sailed around the island of Monte-Cristo accompanied by one of the young princes – a cousin to the one who was going to be emperor of France ten years later. During this trip he promised the prince that he would write a novel with the island's name as title. At this moment the future emperor was imprisoned at the citadel of Ham – a name that is mentioned in the novel. Louis Napoleon was imprisoned for lifetime, but he fled under disguise. This happened in 1846 while Dumas's novel was already a gigantic success. Just as Dantès, Louis Napoleon reappeared in Paris as a powerful and enigmatic man of the world. In 1848, however, Dumas did not vote for Louis Napoleon, but the novel may have participated – against the will of the writer – to the victory of the future Napoleon III.

A chronology of The Count of Monte Cristo and Bonapartism

The grandfather Dumas:

1793: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas is promoted general in the army of the First French Republic.

1794: He disapproves of the revolutionary terror in Western France.

1795-97: He attains great celebrity. Is fighting under Napoleon.

1802: Black officers are dismissed from the army. The Empire has reestablished slavery.

1802: Birth of his son, Alexandre Dumas père.

1806: Th. A. Dumas dies, still bitter towards the injustice of the Empire.

The father Dumas:

1832: The only son of Napoleon I dies.

1836: A. Dumas is already a famous writer.

1836: First putsch of Louis Napoleon, aged 28. Fails completely.

1840: June. A law is passed to bring the ashes of Napoleon I to France.

1840: August. Second putsch of Louis Napoleon. He is imprisoned for lifetime and becomes known as the candidate for the imperial succession.

1841: Dumas lives in Florence and is acquainted with the King Jérôme and his son, Napoléon.

1841-44: The novel is conceived and written.

1846: The novel is a European bestseller.

1846: Louis Napoleon escapes from his prison.

1848: French Second Republic. Louis Napoleon is elected its first president but Dumas does not vote for him.

1857: Dumas publishes État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo

Plot summary

Edmond Dantès

Edmond Dantès, a young and successful merchant sailor recently granted his own command, returns to Marseillemarker to marry his fiancée Mercédès. Leclère, a supporter of the exiled Napoléon I, charges Dantès on his deathbed to deliver two objects: a package to Maréchal Bertrand (who had been exiled with Napoleon Bonaparte to the isle of Elbamarker), and a letter from Elba to an unknown man in Paris. Subsequently, an anonymous letter accuses Dantès of being a Bonapartist traitor. The letter is later revealed to have been written by Mercédès' cousin Fernand Mondego and Danglars, Dantès' ship's supercargo. Villefort, the deputy crown prosecutor in Marseille, assumes the duty of investigating the matter. Villefort is normally considered a just man, but on discovering that the recipient of the letter from Elba is his Bonapartist father, he ultimately chooses to save his political career and condemns Dantès without trial to life imprisonment and protects his father by destroying the incriminating letter.

During his fourteen years imprisonment in the Château d'Ifmarker, Edmond is visited in his cell by the Abbé Faria, a priest and fellow prisoner trying to tunnel his way to freedom. Faria provides Dantès with a comprehensive education in subjects including languages, history, economics, philosophy, mathematics, chemistry and the manners of polite society. The priest, ill from a form of catalepsy and knowing that he will soon die, confides in Dantès the location of a treasure hoard on the Italian islet of Monte Cristomarker. After Faria's death the following year, Dantès escapes and is rescued by a smuggling ship. After several months of working with the smugglers, he gets the opportunity to go to Monte Cristo for a goods exchange. Dantès fakes an injury and convinces the smugglers to temporarily leave him on Monte Cristo. He then makes his way to the hiding place of the treasure. He returns to Marseilles, where he learns that his father has died in poverty. He buys himself a yacht and hides the rest of the treasure on board. With his new found wealth and education, Dantès buys the island of Monte Cristo and the title of Count from the Tuscan Government.

Returning to Marseille, Dantès puts into action his plans for revenge. Traveling in disguise as the Abbé Busoni, Edmond first meets Caderousse, whose intervention might have saved Dantès from imprisonment. Now living in poverty, Caderousse believes his current state is punishment by God for his jealousy and cowardice. Dantès learns from Caderousse how his other enemies have all become wealthy and prosperous since Dantès' betrayal. Edmund gives Caderousse a diamond that can be either a chance to redeem himself, or a trap that will lead to his ruin. Caderousse murders the jeweler to whom he sold the diamond and is sentenced to life in the prison galleys. Dantès (using another disguise, this time as the English Lord Wilmore) frees Caderousse and gives him another chance at redemption. Caderousse does not take it, and becomes a career criminal.

Learning that his old employer Morrel is on the verge of bankruptcy and disgrace after his ships have been lost at sea, Dantès (in the guise of a senior clerk of the banking firm of Thompson and French of Rome) buys all of Morrel's outstanding debts and gives Morrel an extension of three months to fulfill his obligations. At the end of the three months and with no way to repay his debts, Morrel is about to commit suicide when he learns that all of his debts have been mysteriously paid and that one of his ships has returned with a full cargo (the ship had been secretly rebuilt and laden by Dantès).

The Count of Monte Cristo

The story then moves forward nine years. Dantès debuts in public as the Count of Monte Cristo, a mysterious and fabulously rich aristocrat. He surfaces first in Rome, where he becomes acquainted with the Baron Franz d'Epinay, a young aristocrat, and Viscount Albert de Morcerf, Mercédès's and Fernand's son. He later rescues Albert from Italian bandits. Dantès subsequently moves to Paris, and with Albert de Morcerf's introduction, becomes the sensation of the city. Due to his knowledge and rhetorical power, even his enemies - who do not recognize him as Edmond Dantès - find him charming, and because of his status they all desire his friendship.

Monte Cristo meets Danglars, who has become a wealthy banker. Monte Cristo dazzles the crass Danglars with his seemingly endless wealth, eventually persuading him to extend him a 6,000,000 francs credit, and withdraws nine hundred thousand. Under the terms of the arrangement, Monte Cristo can demand access to the remainder at any time. The Count manipulates the bond market, through a false telegraph signal, and quickly destroys a large portion of Danglars' fortune, and the rest of it begins to rapidly disappear through mysterious bankruptcies, suspensions of payment, and more bad luck on the Stock Exchange.

Monte Cristo threatens Villefort with knowledge of his past affair with Mme Danglars, which produced a son. Believing the child to be stillborn, Villefort had buried the child. The boy was rescued and raised in Corsica by his enemy, Bertuccio (now Monte Cristo's servant), who gave the child the name "Benedetto". As an adult, Benedetto becomes a career criminal who is sentenced to the galleys with Caderousse, but after being freed by "Lord Wilmore", takes the identity of "Viscount Andrea Cavalcanti" (sponsored by the Count) and cons Danglars into betrothing his daughter Eugenie to him. Caderousse blackmails Andrea, threatening to reveal his past.

Cornered by "Abbé Busoni" while attempting to rob Monte Cristo's house, Caderousse begs to be given another chance, but Dantès grimly notes that the last two times he did so, Caderousse did not change. He forces Caderousse to write a letter to Danglars exposing Viscount Cavalcanti as an impostor and allows Caderousse to leave the house, but the moment Caderousse leaves the estate, he is stabbed in the back by Andrea. Caderousse manages to dictate and sign a deathbed statement identifying his killer, and Monte Cristo reveals his true identity to Caderousse moments before Caderousse dies.

Ali Pasha, the ruler of Yannina (in French, Janina), was betrayed to the Greeks by Fernand. After his death, his daughter Haydée and his wife Vasiliki were sold into slavery by Fernand; subsequently, Haydée was located and rescued by Dantès and becomes the Count's guest in his residence. The Count manipulates Danglars into researching the event, which is published in a newspaper. As a result, Fernand is brought to trial for his crimes. Haydée testifies against him, and Fernand is disgraced.

Mercédès, still as attractive as before, alone recognizes Monte Cristo as Dantès. When Albert blames Monte Cristo for his father's downfall and publicly challenges him to a duel, Mercédès goes secretly to Monte Cristo and begs him to spare her son. During this interview, she learns the entire truth of his arrest and imprisonment. She later reveals the truth to Albert, which causes Albert to make a public apology to Monte Cristo. Albert and Mercédès disown Fernand, who is also confronted with Dantès' true identity and subsequently commits suicide. The mother and son depart to build a new life free of disgrace. Albert enlists and goes to Africa as a soldier in order to rebuild his life and honor under a new name, and Mercédès begins a solitary life in Marseille.

Villefort's daughter by his first wife, Valentine, stands to inherit the entire fortune of her grandfather (Noirtier) and of her mother's parents (the Saint-Mérans), while his second wife, Héloïse, seeks the fortune for her small son Édouard. Monte Cristo is aware of Héloïse's intentions, and "innocently" introduces her to the technique of poison. Héloïse fatally poisons the Saint-Mérans, so that Valentine gets their inheritance. However, Valentine is disinherited by Noirtier in an attempt to prevent Valentine's impending marriage with Franz d'Epinay. The marriage is cancelled when d'Epinay learns that his father was killed by Noirtier in a duel. Afterwards, Valentine is reinstated in Noirtier's will. Héloïse then targets Valentine, so that Édouard will finally get the fortune.

After Monte Cristo learns that Morrel's son Maximilien is in love with Valentine de Villefort, he saves her by making it appear as though Héloïse's plan to poison Valentine has succeeded and that Valentine is dead. Villefort learns that Héloïse is a murderer and confronts her, giving her the choice of a public execution or committing suicide by her own poison.

Fleeing after Caderousse's letter exposes him, Andrea gets as far as Compiegne before he is arrested and brought back to Paris, where he is prosecuted by Villefort. Andrea reveals that he is Villefort's son and was rescued after Villefort buried him alive. Villefort admits his guilt and flees the court. He rushes home to stop his wife's suicide but he is too late; she has poisoned her son as well. Dantès confronts Villefort, revealing his true identity, which drives Villefort insane. Dantès tries to resuscitate Édouard but fails, and despairs that his revenge has gone too far. It is only after he revisits his cell in the Chateau d'If that Dantès is reassured that his cause is just and his conscience is clear, that he can fulfill his plan while being able to forgive both his enemies and himself.

After the Count's manipulation of the bond market, all that Danglars is left with is a tarnished reputation and five million francs he has been holding in deposit for the hospitals. The Count demands this sum to fulfill their credit agreement, and Danglars embezzles the hospital fund. Abandoning his wife, Danglars flees to Italy with the Count's receipt, hoping to live in Vienna in anonymous prosperity. However, he is kidnapped by the Count's agent. Danglars is imprisoned the same way that Dantès was. Forced to pay exorbitant prices for food, Danglars eventually signs away all but 50,000 francs of the stolen five million (which Dantès anonymously returns to the hospitals). Nearly driven mad by his ordeal, Danglars finally repents his crimes. Dantès forgives Danglars and allows him to leave with his freedom and the money he has left.

Maximilien Morrel, believing Valentine to be dead, contemplates suicide after her funeral. Dantès reveals his true identity and explains that he rescued Morrel's father from bankruptcy, disgrace and suicide years earlier. He persuades Maximilien to delay his suicide for a month. On the island of Monte Cristo a month later, Dantès presents Valentine to Maximilien and reveals the true sequence of events.

Having found peace, Dantès leaves for an unknown destination to find comfort and possibly love with Haydée, who has declared her love for him.


There are a large number of characters in the book, and the importance of many of them is not immediately obvious. Furthermore, their fates are often so interwoven that their stories overlap significantly. The chart below shows the relationships between the many characters of the novel.

Edmond Dantès and his aliases

  • Edmond Dantès (born 1796) — Dantès is initially a generally well-liked sailor who is inexperienced - but not in his profession - and seems to have everything going for him, including a beautiful fiancée (Mercédès) and an impending promotion to ship's captain. After transforming into the Count of Monte Cristo, his original name is revealed to his main enemies only as each revenge is completed, often driving his already weakened victims into despair.

  • Number 34 — Early in Dantès' stay in prison, the governor of the Château d'If is replaced. This governor does not feel it is worth his time to learn the names of all the prisoners, and instead chooses to refer to them by the numbers of their cells. Thus, Dantès is called Number 34 during his imprisonment.

  • Zatarra the sea pirate, which meant "Driftwood", was Edmond's alias; after escaping prison, when he was befriended by Italian pirates.

  • Chief Clerk of Thomson and French — Shortly after Edmond escapes and learns of Morrel's sorry state of affairs, he disguises himself as an English senior agent of the banking firm of Thomson and French, with whom Morrel deals, and in this form sees Morrel for the first time in fifteen years. Precise and formal, this persona is a phlegmatic, serious banking officer.

  • Count of Monte Cristo — The person that Edmond assumes when he escapes from his incarceration and while he carries out his dreadful vengeance. This persona is marked by a pale countenance and a smile which can be diabolical or angelic. Educated and mysterious, this alias is trusted in Paris and fascinates the people.

  • Lord Wilmore — The English persona in which Dantès performs seemingly random acts of generosity. The Englishman is eccentric and refuses to speak French. This eccentric man, in his kindness, is almost the opposite of the Count of Monte Cristo and Dantès exploits this to persuade Villefort that Lord Wilmore is an enemy of Monte Cristo.

  • Sinbad the Sailor — The persona that Edmond assumes when he saves the Morrel family. Edmond signs a letter to Mlle Julie using this persona, which was accompanied by a large diamond and a red satin purse. (Sinbad the sailor is the common English translation of the original French Simbad le marin.)

  • Abbé Busoni — The persona that Edmond puts forth when he needs deep trust from others because the name itself demands respect via religious authority.

  • M. Zaccone — Dantès, in the guise of both Abbé Busoni and Lord Wilmore, told an investigator sent by Villefort that this was the Count of Monte Cristo's true name.

Dantès's allies

  • Abbé Faria — Italian priest and sage; befriends Edmond while both are prisoners in the Château d'If, acts as a father for Edmond Dantès (as Dantès said once "I can have my revenge, thanks to you, my second father") and reveals the secret of the island of Monte Cristo to Edmond. Becomes the surrogate father of Edmond, while imprisoned, digging a tunnel to freedom he educates Edmond in languages, economics, and all the current sciences (including chemistry which comes to Dantès' aid greatly during his revenge plan) and is the figurative father of the Count of Monte Cristo. He dies from the third attack of catalepsy.
  • Giovanni Bertuccio — The Count of Monte Cristo's steward and very loyal servant; in the Count's own words, Bertuccio "knows no impossibility" and is sure of never being dismissed from the Count's service because, as the Count states, he (the Count) will "never find anyone better." He had declared a vendetta against Monsieur de Villefort for Villefort's refusal to prosecute the murderer of Bertuccio's brother. Tracking Villefort to Auteuil, he stabs Villefort, leaving him to die, but by coincidence becomes involved in Villefort's personal life by rescuing his illegitimate newborn, later named Benedetto (Italian for blessed) by Bertuccio. Years later, he is later jailed on suspicion of the murder of a jeweler, but is released when Caderousse is arrested and proved to have committed the crime, and "Abbe Busoni" gives him a recommendation for employment to Monte Cristo.
  • Luigi Vampa — celebrated Italian bandit and fugitive; owes much to the Count of Monte Cristo, and is instrumental in many of the Count's plans. He enjoys reading classic historical works dealing with great military leaders.
  • Peppino — Formerly a shepherd helping Luigi Vampa, he later becomes a bandit and full member of Vampa's gang. He is condemned to be executed by Roman authorities, but Monte Cristo secures his pardon from the Pope. His alias is Rocca Priori.
  • Haydée — The daughter of Ali Pasha of Yannina, eventually bought by the Count of Monte Cristo from the Sultan Mahmoud. Even though she was purchased as a slave, Monte Cristo treats her with the utmost respect. She lives in seclusion by her own choice, but is usually very aware of everything that is happening outside. She usually goes to local operas accompanied by the Count. At the trial of the Count de Morcerf, she provides the key evidence required to convict Fernand of treason and felony. She is deeply in love with the Count of Monte Cristo, and although he feels he is too old for her, he eventually reciprocates.
  • Ali — Monte Cristo's Nubian slave, a mute (his tongue had been cut out as part of his punishment for intruding into the harem of the Bey of Tunis; his hands, feet and head had also been scheduled to be cut off, but the Count bargained with the Bey for Ali's life). He is completely loyal and utterly devoted to the Count. Ali is also a master of his horses.
  • Baptistin — Monte Cristo's valet-de-chambre. Although only in Monte Cristo's service for little more than a year, he has become the number three man in the Count's household and seems to have proven himself completely trustworthy and loyal, except for some financial irregularities that some employers, and certainly his own, were considering practically normal for a servant. That is, when buying cosmetics or other supplies for his employer, he was inflating the price and pocketing the difference.

Morcerf family

  • Mercédès Mondego — (née: Herrera) Edmond's fiancée at the beginning until their planned marriage is interrupted by Edmond's imprisonment. Eighteen months later, she marries cousin Fernand Mondego (while still pledging eternal love to Dantès) because she believes Edmond is dead and feels alone in the world. Thus, she lives as Mme. the Countess de Morcerf in Paris and bears a son. At Dantès's release and reappearance as the Count, their love is still evident and passionate but circumstances (including her own marriage and Edmond's involvement with Haydée) dictate that they cannot marry. In the end, she returns to Marseille with Edmond's respect and admiration.

  • Fernand Mondego — Later known as the Count de Morcerf. Edmond's rival and suitor for Mercédès; will do anything to get her, including bearing false witness against Edmond. He is overall a representation of evil, as he lies and betrays throughout his military career for his own personal gain. When confronted by his nefarious acts, disgraced in public and abandoned by his wife and son, he commits suicide.

  • Albert de Morcerf — Son of Mercédès and the Count de Morcerf. Is befriended by Monte Cristo in Rome; viewed by Monte Cristo as the son that should have been his with Mercédès, but does not have as strong a filial bond with him as does Maximilien Morrel. At the end, he realizes his father's crimes and, along with his mother Mercédès, abandons him and his name.

Danglars family

  • Baron Danglars — Initially the supercargo (the owner's agent) on the same ship on which Dantès served as first mate; he longs to be wealthy and powerful and becomes jealous of Dantès for his favor with Pierre Morrel. He also developed a grudge against Dantès, with whom he has had some arguments regarding the accuracy of his accounting. The source of his wealth is not clear but is possibly due to unscrupulous financial dealings while in the French army and has reportedly been multiplied by speculation and marriage. His intelligence is only evident where money is concerned; otherwise he is a member of the nouveau riche with only superficial good taste (he cannot even tell the difference between original paintings and copies) and no true family feelings. Although arguably guiltier than Morcerf, Caderousse and Villefort, having written the denunciation letter, he is the only one who asks Dantès for forgiveness and is partially spared, ending up a fugitive with barely enough money to support himself, but alive and not insane.
  • Madame Danglars — Full name is Hermine Danglars (formerly Baroness Hermine de Nargonne during a previous marriage), née de Servieux. Was independently wealthy before marrying Danglars. With help and private information from her close friend and lover Ministerial Secretary Lucien Debray, Madame Danglars secretly invests money and is able to amass over a million francs for her own disposal. During her marriage with the Baron de Nargonne, she had an affair with Gérard de Villefort, with whom she had an illegitimate son (See Benedetto).
  • Eugénie Danglars — The daughter of Danglars, engaged at first to Albert de Morcerf and later to "Andrea Cavalcanti" but who would rather stay unwed, living "an independent and unfettered life" as an artist. She dresses as a man and runs away with another girl, Louise d'Armilly after the collapse of her intended marriage to Andrea Cavalcanti; these connotations were considered scandalous. During their flight from Paris, she and Louise, traveling as brother and sister (Eugenie had disguised herself in men's clothing), stopping at an inn at Compiègnemarker requested a room with two beds, yet Benedetto found them in bed together.

Villefort family

  • Gérard de Villefort — A royal prosecutor who has even denounced his own father (Noirtier) in order to protect his own career. He is responsible for imprisoning Edmond Dantès to protect his political aspirations. After his attempted infanticide is publicly revealed and his second wife kills herself and their son, he loses his sanity.
  • Renée de Villefort, née de Saint-Méran — Gérard de Villefort's first wife, mother of Valentine de Villefort.
  • Monsieur le Marquis de Saint-Méran and Madame la Marquise de Saint-Méran — Renée's parents and Valentine's maternal grandparents. Both poisoned by Valentine's stepmother in order for Valentine to inherit their wealth, and then, through a series of further deaths in the family (Valentine's and her father's), leave it to Valentine's stepbrother.
  • Valentine de Villefort — The daughter of Gérard de Villefort and his first wife, Renée (née de Saint-Meran). She falls in love with Maximilien Morrel, is engaged to Baron Franz d'Épinay, is almost poisoned by her stepmother, saved once by her grandfather, Noirtier, and is finally saved by Dantès. Valentine is the quintessential (French, nineteenth century) female: beautiful, docile, and loving. The only person she feels that she can confide in is her invalid grandfather.
  • Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort — The father of Gérard de Villefort and grandfather of Valentine and Édouard (and, without knowing it, of Benedetto as well). After suffering an apoplectic stroke, Noirtier becomes mute and a paralytic, but can communicate with Valentine, Gérard and his servant Barrois through use of his eyelids and eyes. Although utterly dependent on others, he saves Valentine from the poison of her stepmother and her undesired marriage to Baron Franz d'Epinay. Throughout his life he was a Bonapartist – an ardent French Revolutionary and later revealed to be the President of a club of Bonapartists conspiring to overthrow the restored monarchy and re-establish Napoleon as Emperor. Gérard de Villefort had realized that Edmond intended to fulfill his dying captain's last wish by conveying a letter from the imprisoned Napoleon on Elba to Noirtier in Paris, and therefore imprisoned Edmond (who knew nothing about the family connection) in order to hide the fact that his father was a conspirator, which might have hindered Gérard's advancement.
  • Héloïse de Villefort — The murderous second wife of Villefort who is motivated to protect and nurture her only son and his inheritance. Villefort threatens to have her arrested and executed unless she kills herself and she does so before her husband, having changed his mind, gets a chance to stop her.
  • Édouard de Villefort — the only legitimate son of Villefort. A very intelligent but extremely spoiled and selfish little boy who is unfortunately swept up in his mother's greed (his mother kills him before committing suicide). (His name is sometimes translated as Edward de Villefort.) The fact that he was an innocent victim makes Dantès feel that he went too far in his revenge and explains why he treats Danglars more leniently.
  • Benedetto — The illegitimate son of de Villefort and Hermine de Nargonne (now Baroness Hermine Danglars); raised by Bertuccio (later Monte Cristo's steward) and his sister-in-law, Assunta. Murderer and thief. Is helped to escape from a prison galley and travels to Paris to become "Andrea Cavalcanti".

Morrel family

  • Pierre Morrel — Edmond Dantès's patron and owner of the major Marseille shipping firm of Morrel & Son. While a very honest and shrewd businessman, he is very fond of Edmond and eager to advance his interests. After Edmond is arrested, he tries his hardest to help Edmond and is hopeful of his release when Napoleon is restored to power, but because of his sympathies for the Bonapartist cause, he is forced to back down and abandon all hope after the Hundred Days and second Restoration of the monarchy. Between 1825 and 1830, his firm undergoes critical financial reverses due to the loss of all of his ships at sea, and he is at the point of bankruptcy and suicide when Monte Cristo (in the guise of an English clerk from the financial firm of Thompson and French) sets events in motion which not only save Pierre Morrel's reputation and honor but also his life.
  • Maximilien Morrel (Maximilian in some English translations) — He is the son of Edmond's employer, Pierre Morrel, a captain in the Spahi regiment of the Army stationed in Algiers and an Officer of the Legion of Honor. After Edmond's escape and the Count of Monte Cristo's debut in Paris, Maximilien becomes a very good friend to the Count of Monte Cristo, yet still manages to force the Count to change many of his plans, partly by falling in love with Valentine de Villefort.
  • Julie Herbault — Daughter of Edmond's patron, Pierre Morrel, she marries Emmanuel Herbault.
  • Emmanuel Herbault — Julie Herbault's husband; he had previously worked in Pierre Morrel's shipping firm and is the brother-in-law of Maximilien Morrel and son-in-law of Pierre Morrel.

Other important characters

  • Gaspard Caderousse — A tailor and originally a neighbour and friend of Dantès, he witnesses while drunk the writing by Danglars of the denunciation of Dantès. After Dantès is arrested, he is too cowardly to come forward with the truth. Caderousse is somewhat different from the other members of the conspiracy in that it is what he does not do, rather than what he actually plans, that leads to Dantès' arrest. He moves out of town, becomes an innkeeper, falls on hard times, and supplements his income by fencing stolen goods from Bertuccio. After his escape from prison, Dantès (and the reader) first learn the fates of many of the characters from Caderousse. Unlike the other members of the conspiracy, Monte Cristo offers Caderousse more than one chance to redeem himself, but the latter's greed proves his undoing, and he becomes in turn a murderer, a thief and a blackmailer. He is eventually murdered by Benedetto.
  • Louis Dantès — Edmond's father. After his son's imprisonment and believing Edmond dead, he eventually starves himself to death.
  • Baron Franz d'Epinay — A friend of Albert de Morcerf, he is the first fiancé of Valentine de Villefort. Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort killed Franz's father General d'Epinay in a lawful duel after unsuccessfully trying to convince him to support plans to return Napoleon to power, but it was assumed by the public that the general was assassinated; Franz only learns the truth when Noirtier reveals it to stop Franz from marrying Valentine.
  • Lucien Debray — Secretary to the Minister of the Interior. A friend of Albert de Morcerf, and a lover of Madame Danglars, to whom he funnels insider information regarding investments.
  • Beauchamp — A leading journalist and friend of Albert de Morcerf (son of Fernand Mondaego, the self-styled "Count de Morcerf), he travels to Yannina to confirm the story about Fernand's background that leads to public embarrasment and Fernand's suicide.
  • Raoul, Baron de Château-Renaud — A member of a very ancient and noble family and another friend of Albert de Morcerf. Maximilien Morrel saved Renaud's life in Algeria.
  • Louise d'Armilly — Eugénie Danglars' music instructor, actually her closest friend, but not allowed to be seen in public with Eugénie because of the possibility of Louise some day becoming a professional artist in a theater setting. Eugénie and Louise run off together.
  • Monsieur de Boville — originally an inspector of prisons (he actually meets Dantès in the Chateau d'If), he is later promoted to a senior rank of the Paris police detective force, where he does some investigating of the Count of Monte Cristo at Villefort's orders. By the close of the book, he has become a receiver-general of funds for the hospitals.
  • Barrois — Old, trusted servant of Monsieur de Noirtier, dies accidentally after drinking poisoned lemonade from a decanter brought to Noirtier, and from which Noirtier had drank a little. The poison was probably brucine. Having used brucine as medication for paralysis, Noirtier was not affected.
  • Monsieur d'Avrigny — Family doctor treating the Villefort family, he alerts Villefort when he suspects poisoning. He suspects Valentine until she becomes a victim herself. Very discreet, he is willing to keep the secret as long as Villefort solves the problem, even secretly and informally, or even illegally (for instance, by locking up or poisoning the suspect). However, he threatens to reveal the secret if Villefort fails to take action.


The Count of Monte Cristo was originally published in the Journal des Débats in eighteen parts. Publication ran from August 28, 1844 through to January 15, 1846. It was first published in Paris by Pétion in 18 volumes (1844-5). Complete versions of the novel in the original French were published throughout the nineteenth century.

The most common English translation was originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall. Most unabridged English editions of the novel, including the Modern Library and Oxford World's Classics editions, use this translation, although Penguin Classics published a new translation by Robin Buss in 1996. Buss' translation updated the language, is more accessible to modern readers, and restored content that was modified in the 1846 translation due to Victorian English social restrictions (for example, references to Eugénie's lesbian traits and behavior) to Dumas' actual publication. Other English translations of the unabridged work exist, but are rarely seen in print and most borrow from the 1846 anonymous translation.


  • ISBN 2-221-06457-7, French language edition
  • ISBN 0-19-283395-2, 1846 translation (Oxford World's Classics)
  • ISBN 0-396-08255-6, 1984 edition, copyrighted by Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. as a part of the Great Illustrated Classics series, 472 pages, complete and seemingly unabridged
  • (no ISBN), Copyright 1946 by the McGraw-Hill Book Company (complete and unabridged; forward by André Maurois)
  • ISBN 0-14-044926-4, Penguin Classics (complete and unabridged; translation, introduction and notes by Robin Buss)
  • ISBN 1-85326-733-3, Wordsworth Classics (complete and unabridged)
  • ISBN 0-375-76030-X, Modern Library Classics (complete and unabridged, introduction by Lorenzo Carcaterra)
  • ISBN 0-451-52195-1, Unknown English translation (Signet Classic)
  • ISBN 0-553-21350-4, Bantam Classic (Translated and Abridged by Lowell Bair)
  • ISBN 1-59308-333-5, Barnes & Noble Classics (Abridged with introduction By Luc Sante)
  • ISBN 9781403927934, Macmillan India (Translated and Abridged by Beatrice Conway)
  • ISBN 9781433215797 Blackstone Audio Edition (Unabridged with introduction by Lorenzo Carcaterra)

Homage and adaptations

See The Count of Monte Cristo for a list of film adaptations

  • Alexandre Dumas wrote a set of three plays that collectively told the story of The Count of Monte Cristo: Monte Cristo (1848), Le Comte de Morcerf (1851), and Villefort (1851).
  • The Telugu film "Veta", starring Chiranjeevi, is an unabashed copy of The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The film The Return of Monte Christo (1946), directed by Henry Levin, is a sequel to the book.
  • In 1881 the French author Jules Lermina (1839-1915) wrote a unofficial sequel entitled The Son of Monte Cristo.
  • The Son of Monte Cristo was made into a film in 1940 starring Louis Hayward and directed by Rowland V. Lee. It was a sequel to the 1934 Count of Monte Cristo (also directed by Rowland V. Lee.)
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo. In 1869 French Author Jean Charles Du Boys (1836-1873) published an unofficial sequel, The Countess of Monte Cristo.
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo (an unrelated comedy that borrows the same name as the 1869 book) was twice made into a film, in 1934 and 1948.
  • The Wife of Monte Cristo is a 1946 film which reimagines the Count of Monte Cristo story and one of only a few films which feature Edmond Dantès and Princess Haydée as a married couple.
  • Jules Verne dedicated his 27th novel, Mathias Sandorf, to Alexandre Dumas, basing its plot on The Count of Monte Cristo. In the dedication he stated he wished to "make Sandorf the Monte Cristo of his Extraordinary Voyages".
  • Lew Wallace went on record stating that The Count of Monte Cristo was one of the chief inspirations for Ben-Hur.
  • Alfred Bester's classic science fiction novel The Stars My Destination (1956) is a retelling of much of the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Jinyong's wuxia novel Requiem of Ling Sing (1963) is widely regarded as having a plot similar to The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The episode of The Simpsons entitled "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times" features a segment, "The Count of Monte Fatso", starring Homer in the title role.
  • Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls, retitled Revenge in the American printing, is, by his own admission "a straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and style to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo" - indeed, most character names are anagrams or cryptic references to characters from Dumas' work.
  • Arturo Pérez-Reverte wrote Queen of the South as a modern-day rendition of the tale, with a female drug dealer as the protagonist.
  • Padayottam, a Malayalam film inspired by this story, was the first indigenous 70 mm movie in India.
  • A critically acclaimed Venezuelanmarker telenovela, La Dueña, was inspired by the novel.
  • Many acclaimed Latin-American soap operas have been inspired by the novel. To mention a few: Amor Gitano (Gypsy Love, from Mexico), Renzo el gitano (Renzo the gypsy, from Puerto Rico) and Dueña y Señora (The Owner and Lady, from Puerto Rico). Further telenovelas such as La verdad oculta (The Hidden Truth, from Mexico) and Acorralada (Trapped, from Miami) have many elements taken from the book. The most recent is Montecristo: Un Amor, Una Venganza (Monte Cristo: Love and Revenge), an Argentine telenovela which premiered April 25, 2006 on Telefe and is loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, a pastiche of the original story in an anime series produced in 2004 by GONZO and directed by Mahiro Maeda.
  • Park Chan-wook's 2003 film, Oldboy, and the manga it is based on, Oldboy, written by Garon Tsuchiya, pay partial homage to The Count of Monte Cristo story. For instance, the protagonist is jailed in a private cell for a long time (15 years in the film; 10 in the manga), with a television set as his only source for acquiring knowledge from the outside world. Upon release, the protagonist is given money and new clothes, and seeks vengeance upon his captors. A strong theme of vengeance and revenge, as in the Monte Cristo story, pervades both the manga and the film. Also, in one scene of the film, Oh-Dae Su is referred to as "The Count of Monte Cristo" in jest by an antagonist.
  • The film The Shawshank Redemption features many of the same themes as The Count of Monte Cristo. It centers on Andy Dufresne, a man falsely imprisoned, who eventually makes a daring escape from prison. He then collects a large sum of money which he had amassed for his jailers, and exerts vengeance upon those who wronged him while he was in jail. The Count of Monte Cristo is itself mentioned in the movie, in a scene where one prisoner mispronounces the name of the novel as "Count of Monte Crisco", and the name of the author as "Alexand-ree Dumbass."
  • The film V for Vendetta references the Count of Monte Cristo many times.
  • In the film Sleepers the Count of Monte Cristo is taught in the children's class in juvenile jail. It serves as foreshadowing of their long wait before they eventually take revenge on the jail's guards.
  • The German progressive metal band Vanden Plas released a concept album Christ 0 in March 2006, which interprets the story of Monte Cristo.
  • In 2007, the Colombian TV Channel Caracolmarker, made an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, into a soap opera called Montecristo.
  • Singer songwriter Warwick Lobban references The Count of Monte Cristo in his song, Calming Monte Cristo.
  • Christopher Bond adapted the true crime story of a barber who killed his customers by slitting their throats by adding a fictional framework of exile and revenge, inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo. This story was later itself adapted as Stephen Sondheim's operetta Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  • Life , a 2007 series on NBC also shown in Australia, features a character, Charlie Crews, who was wrongfully imprisoned for twelve years, only to be released after DNA evidence exonerated him. He received a very large monetary settlement from the city of Los Angeles for his wrongful imprisonment and upon release resumed his career in the Los Angeles Police Department and attempted to find those who set him up and exact revenge against them.
  • The Noisettes have a song entitled The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Exact Revenge by novelist Tim Green is a contemporary retelling of the story.
  • The novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain includes a section which relates to the story of the Count of Monte Cristo, with Tom suggesting they tunnel in to save Jim, telling Huck, "Haven't you ever heard of the Castle Deef!"
  • Jean-Dominique Bauby's book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and its film adaptation reference Monsieur Noirtier de Villeforte. Jean Bauby also had locked-in syndrome.
  • Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was influenced by The Count of Monte Cristo. He used the same theme of Monte Cristo in his second novel El Filibusterismo. In the novel, Crisostomo Ibarra (the protagonist of Rizal's first novel, Noli Me Tangere), returns as Simoun, a rich jeweller, to avenge the betrayal he experienced and to recover his fiancee, Maria Clara.
  • Ian Hylands adapted the book in 2005 into an internationally produced play. Produced in the UKmarker and the United Statesmarker, the story was modified to make the Count's vengeance more psychologically accurate, whilst remaining a faithful interpretation of the novel's themes and story. Many of the characters and relationships were retained, although modified in some cases, to increase the pace of the play. Notably, the Count's many assistants, footmen and helpers were condensed into two people, Jacopo and Haydée. The relationship between Gérard Villefort and Madame Danglars was eliminated, though referenced with a line by Jacopo who confesses to stealing the baby from Auteuil. In the play, he states that the child was wild and put to death in Corsica.
  • Erotic Novelist Colette Gale adapted The Count of Monte Cristo in her novel Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo, published by Penguin/NAL May 2008.
  • Jeffrey Archer's book A Prisoner of Birth is dedicated to The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The writers Jon Smith and Leon Parris adapted The Count of Monte Cristo into a two-hour stage musical entitled Monte Cristo - The musical. A excerpt from the show was performed by a youth cast at the Birmingham Hippodromemarker, England in August 2006.
  • Tugt og utugt i mellemtiden (1976), by the Danish writer Svend Aage Madsen, is a modern novel very similar to The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • In Mark Sarvas' 2008 novel Harry, Revised, the protagonist Harry Rent patterns himself after Edmond Dantès.
  • In 2003 the original story was adapted into a musical by Alexandr Tumencev (composer) and Tatyana Ziryanova (Russian lyrics) and entitled The Count of Monte Cristo ('Граф Монте-Кристо'). This musical adaptation was performed by the musical theatre "Seventh Morning" starting from December 21, 2003. This musical was also performed in French in 2005 (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo).
  • In 2008 the original story was adapted into an almost three-hour musical by Roman Ignatyev (composer) and Yuli Kim (lyrics) entitled Monte-Cristo. This adaptation is performed in the Moscow Operetta Theatre starting from October 1, 2008.
  • In March 2009, American composer Frank Wildhorn's stage musical version, The Count of Monte Cristo premiered in St. Gallenmarker, Switzerland. An English concept album was released for the production in late 2008.
  • In 2009 the original story was adapted into a play by Ido Riklin, in Hebrew, entitled 'The Count of Monte Cristo', staged by the Beer Sheva Theater, in Israel.

Audio Adaptations

  • One of the first audiobook adaptations of the Dumas novel was an 33⅓ LP record released by Caedmon Records with Louis Jourdan reading four chapters from the novel.
  • Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air players starred in a one-hour radio adaptation on August 29, 1938.
  • Welles starred with Agnes Moorehead in a second radio version on October 1, 1939, this time on the Campbell Playhouse.
  • Robert Montgomery starred in a radio adaptation on February 8, 1939 on the Lux Radio Theater.
  • Carleton Young starred in a radio series starring Dumas' title character (currently, only two episodes are commercially available, one from 1947 and another from 1952).
  • Paul Daneman starred in an audio adaptation as part of the Tale Spinners For Children LP record series in the 1960s.
  • The Dumas novel was serialzed on radio in the 1930s in fifteen-minute episodes (currently, only Episodes #115 - 118 are commercially available through the Radio Showcase web site).
  • A number of audiobook recordings in both audio cassette and CD format, both abridged and unabridged, are commercially available.

See also



External links

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