Villefort’s warning has come too late. Napoleon has already landed in France and is marching on Paris. Nevertheless, Villefort wins the king’s gratitude, as he is the only person who was able to uncover Napoleon’s plot in advance.
Noirtier visits Villefort. Villefort tells his father that the police are looking for a man who fits Noirtier’s description in connection with the murder of a royalist general. While Villefort looks on, Noirtier shaves his beard and changes his clothes. As he leaves, he tells Villefort that Napoleon is advancing quickly and is again being hailed as emperor by a still-admiring public.
Napoleon quickly recaptures all of France. Now that Bonapartism is no longer considered a crime, Monsieur Morrel approaches Villefort multiple times to intercede on Dantès’s behalf, but he is always placated with promises. Danglars, unaware that Villefort has an intense personal interest in keeping Dantès locked away, fears that Dantès will be released and then will seek revenge. Danglars resigns from Morrel’s service and moves to Madrid. Fernand comforts Mercédès and wins her gratitude, but has to leave to join Napoleon’s army. In the meantime, Dantès’s father dies of misery over his son’s imprisonment. Morrel pays for the old man’s funeral and settles the small debts he has incurred. After only one hundred days in power, Napoleon is deposed again, and Louis XVIII reassumes the throne.
The inspector-general of prisons visits the Château d’If, where Dantès begs him for a fair trial. The inspector is moved by Dantès’s pleas and promises to look into his case. When he examines the register, he sees that Villefort wrote that Dantès took an active part in Napoleon’s return from Elba. The inspector decides that he cannot help Dantès.
Nineteenth-century France was divided by a deep political schism between revolutionary Bonapartists, who hoped to bring Napoleon and his liberal democratic ideas back to the French throne, and conservative royalists, who were committed to the old French royal family and their traditional rule. This divide plays an important role in the early chapters of The Count of Monte Cristo. Characters associated with the Bonapartist cause, such as Morrel, Dantès, the dead captain, and Noirtier, are portrayed in a sympathetic light, while the aristocratic royalists, such as Villefort and the Marquise de Saint-Méran, are cast in the roles of villains. This stark division between good Bonapartists and bad royalists is not surprising, since Dumas was a great admirer of Napoleon and had strong democratic leanings. His father had been a general in Napoleon’s army, and Dumas grew up with a love of freedom and a respect for individual rights.
The Count of Monte Cristo is heavily tinged with these Napoleonic ideals, which Dumas clearly prefers over the old aristocratic tenets. Dantès is undone not only by the jealousy of dishonorable men but also by the oppressive political system of the post-revolutionary era, a system that routinely sentenced suspected radicals to life in prison with little or no proof of guilt. Dantès is a pawn in a game of political intrigue, and his rights as an individual are ignored as Villefort uses him to advance his personal political goals. Furthermore, Noirtier paints a bleak picture of modern political regimes when he tells his son that “in politics . . . there are no men, but ideas—no feelings, but interests; in politics we do not kill a man, we only remove an obstacle.” The political system’s prioritization of ideas over men and interests over feelings, along with its perception of man as an obstacle, is a natural outcome of its impersonal and dehumanizing nature. Like Napoleon himself, Dantès eventually emerges as a champion for the rights of the individual, working against the oppressive tyranny of the political system.