The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Caderousse

[Y]ou forgot at that time a little debt to our neighbor Caderousse. He reminded me of it, telling me if I did not pay for you, he would be paid by M. Morrel, and so, you see, lest he might do you an injury— . . . Why, I paid him.

These lines represent readers’ first introduction to Caderousse, Dantès’s neighbor. He loaned Dantès money, but while Dantès was at sea, he asked Dantès’s father for the money back. By suggesting he would go to Dantès’s employer to get his money, Caderousse implicitly threatened to negatively impact Dantès’s career. M. Dantès senior recognized the threat and paid the loan, which resulted in his own suffering. Neither Dantès father or son, therefore, likes Caderousse, though both speak politely to him.

‘Upon my word,’ said Caderousse, from whose mind the friendly treatment of Dantès, united with the effect of the excellent wine he had drunk, had effaced every feeling of envy or jealousy at Dantès’ good fortune, — ‘upon my word Dantès is a downright good fellow, and when I see him sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be, I cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to have served him that trick you were planning yesterday.’

Caderousse drunkenly witnessed Danglars and Fernand plotting to ruin Dantès, but he felt both incapable and disinclined to stick up for Dantès at the time. Now he feels more friendly towards Dantès. His remarks here show that he remembers what Danglars and Fernand were plotting. When he realizes that they did indeed go through with the “trick,” his conscience will challenge him to denounce them, but own instinct for self-preservation will override this intention.

Like other dwellers of the south, he was a man of sober habits and moderate desires, but fond of external show, vain, and addicted to display. During the days of his prosperity, not a fête, festivity, or ceremonial took place without himself and his wife being among the spectators . . . But, by degrees, watch-chains, necklaces, many-colored scarves . . . all disappeared: and Gaspard Caderousse, unable to appear abroad in his pristine splendor, had given up any further participation in these pomps . . . although a bitter feeling of envious discontent filled his mind[.]

Caderousse, once a tailor, now runs an inn which receives few visitors. Here, the narrator explains that when he had enough money, Caderousse enjoyed showing his wealth off, but now that he cannot appear outwardly prosperous, he does not like to appear in public at all. Thus he feels doubly unhappy: He has lost his former wealth, and since he won’t go out in public, he misses out on entertainments he once enjoyed.

I confess I had my fears in the state in which politics then were, and I held my tongue; it was cowardly, I confess, but it was not criminal . . . and my remorse preys on me night and day. I often ask pardon of God, I swear to you, because this action, the only one which I have seriously to reproach myself with in all my life, is no doubt the cause of my sorry condition. I am paying for a moment of selfishness, and thus it is I always say to Carconte, when she complains, “Hold your tongue, woman, it is the will of God.”

Speaking to the Abbé Busoni, Caderousse claims to feel remorse about his lack of support for Dantès, which he says stands as the one mistake he ever made. At the same time, however, he describes the vast successes of both Danglars and Fernand, who bear more guilt for the same crime. And later, while dying, Caderousse claims God does not exist. Readers may use this information to infer that Caderousse’s piousness here may simply be a performance for the Abbé.

I recognized the features of Caderousse,—pale, ghastly, and convulsed,—while the front and sleeves of his shirt were covered with blood . . . Soon he came down holding in his hand the small shagreen case which he opened to assure himself it contained the diamond,—seemed to hesitate as to which pocket he should put it in . . . After this he took from his cupboard the bank notes and gold he had put there, thrust the one in the pocket of his trousers, and the other into that of his waistcoat . . . and rushing towards the door, disappeared in the darkness of the night.

The Abbé Busoni, actually Dantès in disguise, gave Caderousse a large diamond as a supposed legacy from Dantès. Caderousse’s wife wanted more, however. She cajoled Caderousse into murdering the jeweler who bought the diamond, thus gaining back both the diamond and the money. In the process, she was killed. Caderousse escaped, but unbeknownst to him, Bertuccio saw the whole thing which he recounts here. Far from deserving Dantès’s unexpected gift, the fortune provoked Caderousse to commit murder.

In the interim it pleased Providence to bring about the arrest of Caderousse, who was discovered in a distant country and brought back to France, where he made a full confession, refusing to make the fact of his wife’s having suggested and arranged the murder any excuse for his own guilt. The wretched man was sentenced to the galleys for life, and I was immediately set at liberty.

Bertuccio explains his arrest and eventual exoneration for Caderousse’s crime. Because he was nearby while Caderousse committed murder, authorities apprehended Bertuccio as Caderousse had already escaped, and they accused Bertuccio of the crime. Fortunately, thanks to the help of Abbé Busoni/Dantès, the correct man—Caderousse—was eventually caught and punished. Caderousse probably confessed because pleading guilty allowed him to avoid capital punishment, although he may also have felt some regret about the crime. Caderousse is not truly evil: He just wants easy money.

You wrong me, my boy, and now that I have found you, nothing prevents my being as well dressed as anyone, knowing as I do the goodness of your heart. If you have two coats you will give me one of them. I used to divide my soup and beans with you when you were hungry.

Caderousse speaks to Benedetto, a former fellow prisoner, after finding Benedetto pretending to be Andrea Cavalcanti, a rich Italian nobleman. Caderousse feels entitled to some of Benedetto’s current good fortune, but he does not directly say so. Instead he implies that Benedetto’s own kind nature will make him share with Caderousse. As they both know, Caderousse could easily denounce Benedetto as an escaped prisoner and end Benedetto’s current charade.

‘Come!’ said Caderousse, wiping his large knife on his apron, ‘if I did not like you, do you think I should endure the wretched life you lead me? Think for a moment. You have your servant’s clothes on — you therefore keep a servant; I have none, and am obliged to prepare my own meals . . . Well, I, too, could keep a servant; I, too, could have a tilbury; I, too, could dine where I like; but why do I not? Because I would not upset my little Benedetto. Come! Just admit that I could, eh?’

Even though Benedetto is supporting Caderousse financially, Caderousse demands more. As Caderousse indicates, he could command much more money from Benedetto in order to keep the secret of Benedetto’s true identity. Caderousse once again frames his threats as friendship, but obviously he intends to bleed Benedetto dry, believing himself entitled to share in Benedetto’s good fortune. At this moment, Benedetto decides he must kill Caderousse.

‘Listen,’ said the abbé, extending his hand over the wounded man as if to commit him to believe; ‘this is what the God in whom, on your death-bed, you refuse to believe, has done for you; he gave you health, strength, regular employment, even friends — a life, in fact, which a man might enjoy with a calm conscience. Instead of improving those gifts, rarely granted so abundantly, this has been your course: you have given yourself up to sloth and drunkenness, and in a fit of intoxication ruined your best friend.’

Busoni/Dantès, having caught Caderousse robbing Monte Cristo’s home, confronts Caderousse, then lets him go, only to see him mortally wounded by Benedetto. Dantès, in the guise of a priest, wants Caderousse to acknowledge all his wrongdoing, and lets him know that his death now is God’s will. In addition to God’s gifts that Dantès enumerates, Caderousse also received repeated secret help from Dantès but never appreciated that support. Dantès’s assistance now ends.