The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 63–67

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.