The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 54–62

Chapter 59: M. Noirtier de Villefort

While Maximilian and Valentine hold their secret tryst, Villefort and his wife visit the room in their house in which Noirtier lives with his devoted servant, Barrois. Noirtier’s stroke has left him with only the powers of sight and hearing, so he is unable to communicate with anyone but Villefort, Barrois, and Valentine. Valentine is Noirtier’s sole happiness in life; because of her love and devotion, she is able to read all of her grandfather’s thoughts and desires in his eyes. Villefort and his wife break the news of Valentine’s engagement, and Noirtier is silently enraged, since Franz’s father was his greatest political enemy. Valentine is sent to comfort her grandfather, and she confides in him that she does not want to marry Franz. Noirtier vows that he will help Valentine escape her unwanted engagement.

Chapter 60: The Will

Noirtier summons a notary and rewrites his will. He provides that if Valentine marries Franz, all of his inheritance will go to the poor rather than to Valentine. Villefort is unmoved by his father’s threat and refuses to call off Valentine’s engagement.

Chapter 61: The Telegraph

Downstairs, the Villeforts find Monte Cristo waiting for them. Monte Cristo invites them to his upcoming dinner party and tells them that he would like to visit a telegraph office. They suggest that he visit the Spanish line, which is the busiest.

Chapter 62: The Bribe

Monte Cristo visits a remote telegraph post, where he bribes the operator to pass along a false report. The next day, Debray hurries to the Danglars household and tells Madame Danglars that her husband must sell all of his Spanish bonds. Debray has just learned—in advance because of his government position—of a telegraph that came in announcing that a revolution is about to break out in Spain.

Madame Danglars follows Debray’s advice. That evening’s newspaper confirms the news about Spain, and Danglars saves a fortune as Spanish bonds plummet. However, the following day the newspaper states that the previous report of impending unrest was mistaken, stemming from an improperly intercepted telegraph communication. Danglars ends up losing one million francs.

Analysis: Chapters 54–62

The scene at the opera in Chapter 64 provides a sharp juxtaposition of two opposing elements of The Count of Monte Cristo. On one hand, the story is a fantastical melodrama, with a vampirelike count, a beautiful Greek princess, horrible betrayals, and breathtaking acts of revenge. On the other hand, it is a highly realistic novel, depicting the customs, hypocrisies, and everyday lives of French nobility. Dumas himself saw his novel as essentially a tale of contemporary manners, taking great care to provide the characters with real addresses, real restaurants, and stores to frequent, along with behavior authentic to their social status. Even the opera Monte Cristo attends is carefully chosen: Robert Le Diable, an 1831 work by Jacques Meyerbeer, is a performance that the upper crust of Dumas’s time would certainly have turned out to see. Dumas even goes so far in his realism as to engage in some mild social satire. He mocks contemporary notions of propriety, for instance, by noting that while it would have been considered a scandal if Madame Danglars and her daughter had attended the opera alone, it is considered perfectly appropriate for them to be accompanied by Madame Danglars’s lover, Debray. Dumas’s impressive realism gives his novel a depth that a mere melodrama would not possess.