The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 54–62

Dumas portrays Noirtier as one of the sympathetic characters of the novel, which is strange in light of Dumas’s concern for individual liberties. In his days as a revolutionary, Noirtier committed the high sin of sacrificing individual lives to big ideas. In Villefort’s words, he was a man “for whom France was a vast chessboard, from which pawns, rooks, knights, and queens, were to disappear, so that the king was checkmated.” In other words, Noirtier treated people as means toward that which he considered an important end. Perhaps Dumas pardons Noirtier because he violated individual rights only with the eventual aim of securing such rights. As a revolutionary leader, Noirtier fought for the common people and for liberal, democratic ideals. In addition, because he is poised perfectly to do harm to Villefort, one of the novel’s least sympathetic characters, Noirtier must, by default, have a redeeming character.

The telegraph episode of Chapters 61 and 62 is one of the only events in the long and drawn-out destruction of Danglars that Dumas actually portrays. Unlike the downfalls of Fernand and Villefort, which occur in brilliant bursts of spectacle, Danglars’s downfall is slow and dull. Since Danglars cares about nothing but his wealth, it is his wealth that Monte Cristo attacks, causing repeated losses that destroy Danglars’s credit. For the most part, Dumas gives us the behind-the-scenes story of Danglars’s destruction in small hints. Various long-standing clients of Danglars suddenly borrow large amounts of money and then go bankrupt, unable to honor their debts to him. These long-standing clients, we are to understand, are all Monte Cristo borrowing under assumed names.