The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 94–102

Chapter 99: The Hotel of the Bell and the Bottle

As Eugénie flees Paris, so does Benedetto. He stops overnight at an inn in the town of Compiègne, but oversleeps and wakes up to find gendarmes milling around the hotel. Benedetto attempts to escape through the chimney of his room. Once on the roof, he must go down through another chimney, and he chooses the only one not emitting smoke. The room at the bottom of this chimney happens to be where Eugénie and Louise are staying. They give the alarm, and Benedetto is seized.

Chapter 100: The Law

Madame Danglars approaches Villefort, and she requests that he not pursue the case against Andrea Cavalcanti. For the sake of her family’s dignity, Madame Danglars begs that Villefort simply make the affair go away. He rigidly refuses. At the end of their meeting, news comes that Cavalcanti has been arrested.

Chapter 101: The Apparition

Valentine has been sick for four days. On the fourth night, she sees a figure approach her bed. It is Monte Cristo, who explains that he has been keeping constant watch over her from his window next door. Whenever Monte Cristo sees poison put into her glass he enters her room, as he has done just now, and replaces the deadly contents with curative ones. Monte Cristo advises Valentine to pretend that she is asleep, then watch and wait in order to see who is trying to kill her.

Chapter 102: The Serpent

Valentine does as Monte Cristo says, and sees Madame de Villefort enter her room and pour poison into her glass. When Monte Cristo returns, Valentine expresses complete bafflement as to her stepmother’s motive. Monte Cristo explains that Madame de Villefort wants Valentine’s inheritance to go to Edward, Madame de Villefort’s son. The saintly Valentine’s first emotion is pity for Edward for having such ghastly crimes committed in his name. As Valentine is emotionally unable to denounce her stepmother, Monte Cristo hatches another plan to expose the murderess. He tells Valentine that no matter what happens she must trust him. He then gives her a tiny pill, which she swallows as he watches.

Analysis: Chapters 94–102

The news of Maximilian’s love for Valentine has a profound effect on Monte Cristo, setting the scene for an emotional rebirth that is completed several chapters later. In response to Maximilian’s admission, Monte Cristo “close[s] his eyes, as if dazzled by internal light.” This reference to an “internal light” suggests a sudden epiphany. Maximilian’s love for Valentine opens up a possibility that Monte Cristo has never bothered to consider—that Valentine is innocent and does not deserve to die for her father’s crimes. Until now, he has thought of Valentine as a placeholder, the child of Villefort, the “daughter of an accursed race.” He is now forced to acknowledge that she is an independent, good person, bound up in her own life and in the lives of other good people. Though at this point Monte Cristo is still a firm believer in the justice of his cause, this episode is the first indication that he might not have quite enough knowledge to pull off his scheme perfectly. We see that he does not know everything about the people who will be affected by his actions.

Danglars and Benedetto, who are nearly joined as father and son-in-law, make a surprisingly well-suited unit. They share many of the same pathologies, caring about nothing except for money and willing to betray anyone who stands in their way of personal fortune. Danglars has no more qualms about selling Eugénie into a loveless marriage than he has earlier about sending Dantès to a life in prison. Benedetto, for his part, has been capable of torturing and killing the woman who raised him for the sake of a few gold coins. He has also showed readiness to kill the man he thinks is his father—Monte Cristo—in order to receive what he expects to be a vast inheritance.