Chapter 63: Shadows
The guests arrive at the house in Auteuil for Monte Cristo’s dinner party. The entire house has been decorated magnificently. Only two parts of the home have been left unchanged: the garden in the back and a small bedroom. Maximilian Morrel arrives first, followed by the Danglars, accompanied, as always, by Lucien Debray. Next, Monte Cristo introduces the two impostors as Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and his son, Andrea. Much as Monte Cristo predicts, the fabulously wealthy Italian prince and his son pique Danglars’s curiosity, especially when Monte Cristo casually mentions to Danglars that Andrea is determined to find a wife in Paris. Finally, Villefort and his wife arrive.
Bertuccio, peeking out at the scene through a partly open door, is shocked when he sees Madame Danglars among the guests. He tells Monte Cristo that she is the widowed baroness who used to meet Villefort in this very house. Bertuccio is even more surprised to see Villefort himself, whom he thought he had killed years before. Monte Cristo explains that Villefort was only injured, not killed, when Bertuccio stabbed him. Bertuccio’s greatest surprise, though, comes when he lays eyes on the man pretending to be Andrea Cavalcanti, as this man is actually his wayward son, Benedetto.
Chapter 64: The Dinner
After dinner, Monte Cristo leads the party to the one bedroom he has left unchanged. He announces to his guests that he has felt, from the first moment he stepped inside, that some horrible crime was committed in this room. He begins to describe the scene he imagines took place here, which is, of course, the scene he knows actually did take place here. He imagines that a mother (Madame Danglars), who has just given birth, and a father (Villefort) take a child down the staircase. Monte Cristo then takes his guests, who include both Villefort and Madame Danglars, down into the garden and shows them the spot where, he claims, while working on his trees, he dug up the skeleton of a newborn baby. Deciding that he has pushed the murderous couple as far as he wants, Monte Cristo redirects the party back to the lawn for coffee. Villefort whispers to Madame Danglars that he must see her the next day in his office.
Chapter 65: The Beggar
After the party, as Benedetto climbs into his carriage, he is stopped by an old acquaintance from his former life, Caderousse. Caderousse, who has escaped from the prison where he was serving a life sentence for the murders he committed, demands that Benedetto give him an allowance of 200 francs each month. Benedetto, worried that Caderousse might jeopardize his newfound position, reluctantly agrees.
Chapter 66: A Conjugal Scene
Back home from the party, Madame Danglars retires to her room with Debray in tow. Unexpectedly, her husband bursts into the room and asks Debray to leave. Debray and Madame Danglars are shocked, since Danglars has never before opposed his wife’s wishes. With Debray gone, Danglars confronts his wife. He knows that Debray supplies her with inside information, which she then leaks to him. He also knows that Debray pockets Madame Danglars’s share of the investment earnings. Danglars does not mind this arrangement so long as Debray’s information consistently wins him money, but now that he has lost a considerable sum on the Spanish bonds, he resents that Debray is not helping to defray the costs he incurred. Danglars also reveals that he knows about all of his wife’s previous lovers, including the lovers she had during her first marriage. Most important, he knows that she bore Villefort’s child and that her first husband killed himself as a result.
Chapter 67: Matrimonial Plans
The following day Danglars visits Monte Cristo and presses for more information about Andrea Cavalcanti. He admits that he would very much like his daughter to marry this young man, who is far richer than Albert de Morcerf. Danglars confides in Monte Cristo that the Count de Morcerf was not originally a nobleman but used to be a poor fisherman named Fernand Mondego, who suddenly gained considerable wealth under mysterious circumstances. Monte Cristo pretends to recall that he has once heard of a Fernand Mondego in connection with the Ali Pacha affair in Greece. Danglars admits that he too has heard vague stirrings about this connection. Monte Cristo encourages Danglars to get in touch with his contacts in Yanina, the site of the Ali Pacha affair, and to make inquiries into the nature of Mondego’s involvement.
Analysis: Chapters 63–67
The scene in Monte Cristo’s bedroom and garden at Auteuil is born from the Romantic fascination with the Gothic and the grotesque. Monte Cristo paints a chilling scene for his audience, complete with a dark night, a secret staircase, an illicit love affair, and an act of infanticide. Gothic romances were extremely popular in the nineteenth century and had a strong influence on Dumas and other Romantic writers. Dumas plays up Madame Danglars’s hysteria and Villefort’s terror at hearing Monte Cristo’s story to chilling effect, leaving us almost sympathetic for these two evildoers. Like the heroes and heroines of Gothic novels, Villefort and Madame Danglars are faced with a seemingly supernatural, terrifying, and inescapable force in the person of Monte Cristo. In this respect, though it is also a novel of contemporary manners and a fantastical melodrama, The Count of Monte Cristo is a good example of Gothic literature.
The scenes in this section also indicate that Monte Cristo’s two most trusted companions, Bertuccio and Haydée, share his overwhelming desire for revenge. Bertuccio wants to avenge himself on Villefort because of his refusal, as public prosecutor, to seek justice in the murder of Bertuccio’s brother. Haydée wants to take revenge on Fernand Mondego for betraying her father and selling her into slavery. It is, of course, convenient for Monte Cristo that his own enemies overlap with the enemies of his friends. Haydée and Bertuccio both have information and contacts that can help bring about the downfall of their mutual enemies, and they are willing to do whatever is required of them to accomplish this downfall. Yet it seems that Bertuccio and Haydée are not merely convenient to Monte Cristo but also enormously important to him as his only two true companions. However, it may be merely their common lust for revenge that draws Monte Cristo toward Bertuccio and Haydée. Monte Cristo is himself so obsessed with revenge that perhaps he cannot be truly comfortable around anyone who does not share this obsession to some degree.
Though Monte Cristo seems quite comfortable in the company of Bertuccio and Haydée, it is misleading to speak of him as having any close relationship—platonic or romantic—with another human being. Monte Cristo has willfully exiled himself from human society. He isolates himself to an extreme, living above the law, without a homeland, and without any emotional attachments. In Chapter 49, Monte Cristo describes himself to Villefort as “being of no country, asking no protection from any government, acknowledging no man as my brother.” His refusal to acknowledge himself as a member of any country, society, or fraternity indicates that he has rejected membership in every conceivable community. None of these communities, Monte Cristo implies here and elsewhere, live up to his strict standards of justice and propriety. As a solitary being, unable to find a spiritual home anywhere in the modern world, Monte Cristo is a familiar type of Romantic hero. The theme of spiritual exile from the modern world was a popular one in the Romantic era, and famous nonconformists like Prometheus—the mythical Greek hero who stole fire from the gods to give to humans—and Satan frequently turn up as characters in Romantic prose and poetry. Monte Cristo, like other popular Romantic heroes, is the inveterate renegade, both rejecting and rejected by society.