Chapter 77: Progress of M. Cavalcanti the Younger

Monte Cristo and the man acting as Andrea Cavalcanti visit the Danglars’s home. Eugénie escapes to her room to play music with her constant companion and music teacher, Louise d’Armilly. Danglars insists that Andrea be allowed to join in the two women’s music-making. Albert then arrives. Danglars is excessively rude to him.

Chapter 78: Haydée

On the way back to Monte Cristo’s house, Albert laughs over Danglars’s obvious preference for Andrea as a son-in-law. Albert then asks to meet Haydée. Monte Cristo assents to the meeting with the condition that Albert not mention the name of his father. Haydée tells Albert the tragic story of Haydée’s childhood. Her father, Ali Pacha, was the ruler of the Greek state of Yanina until a French soldier, who had become Ali Pacha’s right-hand man, surrendered Ali’s castle to the Turks and then betrayed him, allowing him to be brutally murdered by his enemies. This Frenchman then sold Haydée and her mother into slavery. Her mother died soon thereafter, and Haydée was eventually liberated when Monte Cristo purchased her freedom. Albert is bewildered by the story, not realizing that his father is the treacherous Frenchman who betrayed Ali.

Chapter 79: Yanina

Villefort receives an angry letter from Franz, calling off the engagement. Noirtier changes his will yet again, leaving all his fortune to Valentine on the condition that she is never separated from him. Meanwhile, Fernand pays a visit to Danglars in order to finalize the engagement between Albert and Eugénie. Much to his dismay, Danglars tells him that he has changed his mind about the engagement. Though Fernand presses him, Danglars refuses to divulge the cause for his change of mind.

The next morning a small article appears in Beauchamp’s newspaper, reporting that a man named Fernand betrayed Ali Pacha to the Turks. Though there are many people who bear the name Fernand, and no one thinks to associate this article with the Count de Morcerf, Albert is convinced that the article is a libelous slander against his father. Despite Monte Cristo’s pleas for Albert to show restraint, Albert orders Beauchamp to retract the article or else fight a duel. Beauchamp, who did not even write the offending article, asks for three weeks to investigate the matter before he is forced to decide between these two options.

Chapter 80: The Lemonade

Barrois fetches Maximilian on behalf of Noirtier. As Albert, Noirtier, and Valentine discuss plans for the future, Barrois, overcome with thirst, takes a drink from his master’s lemonade. Almost instantly, he falls sick and dies. The doctor discovers that there is brucine in the lemonade. Though Noirtier has drunk some of the lemonade, he is not affected because the small amount of brucine he takes every day for his paralysis has given him a tolerance for the substance.

Chapter 81: The Accusation

The doctor deduces that the poison was almost certainly meant for Noirtier. He then concludes that Valentine must be the murderer, as she is the sole heiress of all the intended victims thus far.

Chapter 82: The Room of the Retired Baker

Caderousse summons Benedetto to his home. No longer satisfied with his 200 francs per month, Caderousse presses Benedetto for more. Benedetto reveals his suspicion that Monte Cristo is really his father and that he will receive a large inheritance. Caderousse hatches a plan to break into Monte Cristo’s Parisian home while he is away at Auteuil.

Chapter 83: The Burglary

The next day Monte Cristo receives an anonymous letter warning him of the robbery. He orders his entire staff to abandon the Paris house, leaving only himself and Ali, both fully armed. After several hours, a man enters through the bedroom window. Ali notices another man keeping watch outside. Monte Cristo watches as the first man tries to break into his desk. He realizes, with surprise, that the thief is Caderousse. Monte Cristo quickly changes into his Abbé Busoni disguise and presents himself to Caderousse. Caderousse recognizes the priest instantly and is terrified.

Abbé Busoni tells Caderousse that he will let him go free if he reveals the entire truth about how he escaped from prison and explains what he is doing here now. Caderousse explains that an Englishman named Lord Wilmore sent a file to Benedetto, Caderousse’s companion in chains, and that the two of them filed off their shackles and escaped. He also admits that he is now in league with Benedetto, living off of his friend’s newfound salary. Busoni feigns shock at learning that Benedetto’s alter ego, Andrea Cavalcanti—the fiancé of Eugénie Danglars—is nothing but a convict. He declares that he will make this fact known immediately.

To prevent the secret from leaking out, Caderousse lunges at Busoni with a dagger, but the dagger bounces off the chain-mail vest that Monte Cristo is wearing underneath his habit. Busoni forces Caderousse to write a note to Danglars, informing him that his future son-in-law is a convict. He then lets Caderousse leave through the window through which he entered, telling him that if he makes it home safely, then God has forgiven him. Monte Cristo knows, however, that Benedetto is outside waiting to kill Caderousse.

Chapter 84: The Hand of God

Just as Monte Cristo predicts, Benedetto stabs Caderousse. Monte Cristo brings the injured Caderousse into his house, and Caderousse signs a statement naming Benedetto as his murderer. As Caderousse dies, Monte Cristo berates him for his evil ways, urging him to repent and acknowledge God. Caderousse refuses until Monte Cristo reveals that he is really Edmond Dantès, at which point Caderousse acknowledges the existence of Providence and then dies. The police begin an all-out search for Benedetto.

Analysis: Chapters 77–84

The death of Caderousse marks Monte Cristo’s first tangible success in exacting vengeance and delivering justice. The rest of his triumphs now come in quick succession; in fact, each individual’s impending downfall is perfectly set up at this point in the novel. Danglars is losing his fortune quickly, as many of his previously reliable creditors continue to default on their debt. Danglars is also about to fall into the trap Monte Cristo has set in the form of Andrea Cavalcanti, the disgraceful suitor of his daughter, Eugénie. Fernand Mondego’s history is now known by at least a few people in France, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes widespread public knowledge. Villefort’s home is beset by murders, and his illegitimate son, whom he has tried to kill, is loose somewhere in Parisian society. Though no one but Monte Cristo knows it yet, three lives are about to be utterly destroyed.

While, as we see earlier in the novel, Julie and Emmanuel Herbaut are living proof that human beings can be truly satisfied with their lives, Caderousse embodies human dissatisfaction. Caderousse illustrates one of Dumas’s major ideas in the novel: that happiness depends more on attitude than on absolute circumstances. As Caderousse is at death’s door, Monte Cristo catalogues the man’s long history of dissatisfaction. Feeling himself unfairly stricken with poverty, Caderousse contemplated crime, but then Busoni appeared with an unexpected fortune. Though this fortune seemed tremendous at first, Caderousse soon grew used to it and longed for more, so he resorted to murder in order to double his fortune. Fate then smiled on him again and saved him from prison. He could have lived a happy, comfortable life leeching off of Benedetto, but he again quickly became dissatisfied and longed for more, deciding once again to resort to theft and murder. Monte Cristo’s message is that Caderousse can never be truly satisfied with what he has and will always want more. Additionally, because he is lazy and dishonest, he will always resort to dishonorable means in order to acquire what he wants. With his persistent dissatisfaction, Caderousse is the unfortunate foil to Julie and Emmanuel.

Read more about the theme of relative versus absolute happiness.

Comparing Monte Cristo’s behavior toward the dying Caderousse to the behavior a real priest would exhibit, we see the difference between Monte Cristo’s idea of his divinely ordained mission of justice and the traditional Christian concept of justice. As Abbé Busoni confronts the dying Caderousse with his shortcomings, Caderousse murmurs, “what a strange priest you are; you drive the dying to despair instead of consoling them.” These words remind us that Christianity preaches forgiveness and condemns revenge. Just as Monte Cristo sets himself up as a force independent of and at odds with modern society, he also sets himself up as independent of and at odds with traditional Christianity. Despite this clear rift between the nature of Monte Cristo’s mission and the content of Christian doctrine, however, Dumas nonetheless makes ample use of Christian imagery and symbolism in the novel. We recall that Dantès has been transformed in a symbolic baptism, for instance, and that Monte Cristo is said to hail from the Holy Land. The very name “Monte Cristo,” meaning “mountain of Christ,” suffuses the entire novel with religious overtones. This mixture of skepticism toward and fascination with religion on Dumas’s part was quite common among Romantic writers.