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The Count of Monte Cristo

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, in the original French)

author  Alexandre Dumas

type of work  Novel

genre  Adventure; Romantic novel; moralistic tale

language  French

time and place written  1844, France

date of first publication  Published serially from August 1844 until January 1846

publisher  Le Journal des Débats

narrator  The novel is narrated by an anonymous voice.

point of view  The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing almost entirely on outward action and behavior rather than delving into the psychological realities of the characters.

tone  The narrator is detached from the story, relating the events as they happen.

tense  Present

setting (time)  The novel takes place during the years following the fall of Napoleon’s empire. The story begins in 1815 and ends in 1844.

setting (place)  Though most of the action takes place in Paris, key scenes are also set in Marseilles, Rome, Monte Cristo, Greece, and Constantinople.

protagonist  Edmond Dantès

major conflict  Unjustly imprisoned, Dantès’s seeks to punish those responsible for his incarceration; as the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo, he struggles to transcend his human nature and act as an agent of divine retribution.

rising action In prison, Dantès meets Abbé Faria, who unravels the mystery of Dantès’s downfall; Dantès vows to spend his fortune on an obsessive quest to reward those who have been kind to him and to punish those who have harmed him; Dantès visits Caderousse and confirms the details of the events leading up to his incarceration; Dantès eases himself into the lives of those responsible for his time in prison.

climax Dantès slowly brings complete devastation upon Caderousse, Fernand, Villefort, and Danglars.

falling action  Dantès enables the blissful union of Maximilian Morrel and Val-entine Villefort; Dantès finally opens himself to emotions other than gratitude and vengeance and admits his love for Haydée.

themes  The limits of human justice; relative versus absolute happiness; love versus alienation

motifs  Names; suicide; politics

symbols  The sea; the red silk purse; the elixir

foreshadowing  Abbé Faria’s apology to Dantès; the painting of Mercédès looking out to sea suggests her undying love for Dantès.