The Count of Monte Cristo

by: Alexandre Dumas

Chapters 26–30

The terrible news arrives while Dantès is still in Morrel’s office: the Pharaon has been lost. Dantès, who now owns a significant percentage of the debt Morrel owes, grants the devastated man a reprieve. He tells Morrel that he can have an extra three months to find the money to make the payment. On his way out of the building, Dantès pulls Julie aside and makes her promise to follow any instructions she receives from a man calling himself “Sinbad the Sailor.”

Chapter 30: The Fifth of September

The three months draw to a close, and Morrel still has very little money. He decides that he must take his own life, unable to bear the shame of breaking his obligation to creditors. On the day that his debt is due, Morrel confides his plan to his son, Maximilian, and his son understands, granting his approval. As Morrel and Maximilian share this morbid discussion, Julie receives a letter from Sinbad the Sailor. She follows the instructions in the letter and finds the red silk purse her father once gave to Louis Dantès. It is filled with Morrel’s debt notes, which are marked as paid. The purse also contains a tremendous diamond tagged for use as Julie’s dowry, enabling her to marry Emmanuel.

Julie bursts in with this miraculous find just as her father cocks his gun to take his own life. They hear an uproar from outside. A ship built and painted to look exactly like the Pharaon is pulling into the port, laden with the same cargo that the original had been carrying when it was lost at sea. Amid this happy scene, Dantès boards his yacht and departs Marseilles.

Analysis: Chapters 26–30

Dantès’s speech in these chapters makes it clear that he truly considers himself an agent of Providence rather than a man merely carrying out a good cause. He feels qualified to tell Caderousse that “God may seem sometimes to forget for a while, whilst his justice reposes, but there always comes a moment when he remembers.” Here, Dantès implies that the signal that God “remembers,” in this particular case, is that God has given him this vast fortune to use as a tool of reward and punishment. As Dantès departs Marseilles, he reflects, “I have been Heaven’s substitute to recompense the good—now the God of Vengeance yields to me his power to punish the wicked!” In calling himself “Heaven’s substitute,” Dantès could not be more explicit about how he views his role. Given that he clearly considers himself God’s emissary on earth, it is fitting that he chooses to disguise himself as a priest when visiting Caderousse. In some traditions, the priest acts as a direct intermediary between God and man—the same role Dantès sees himself as occupying in his quest for revenge.

Each of Dantès’s various disguises correlates with the role that he plays while assuming that identity. He tends to dress as the Abbé Busoni when he is standing in judgment; thus, he dons the Abbé Busoni disguise when visiting Caderousse, as he must decide whether Caderousse should be rewarded as a friend or punished as an enemy. When engaging in acts of excessive generosity, as he does toward Morrel, Dantès dresses as an Englishman whom we later learn he refers to as Lord Wilmore. Dantès tends to use the name Sinbad the Sailor when acting in a particularly eccentric manner, though he primarily makes use of this name when in Italy. Later, Dantès assumes the name Monte Cristo when acting as an angel of vengeance. Like the God of the Old Testament, who uses a different name to refer to each of his different aspects—his punishing side and his compassionate side, for example—Dantès, a self-appointed emissary of God on earth, also fractures his personality into its various components: judging, rewarding, and punishing. Like God, he assigns each aspect a different identity.

Of all the names Dantès uses, Sinbad the Sailor bears its own original significance, as it is a recognizable name. Sinbad the Sailor is a character in a famous Middle Eastern folktale about a merchant who goes on seven dangerous and fantastical journeys, ultimately ending up enormously wealthy. There are many reasons why Dantès might have chosen this familiar name as one of his aliases. There is the obvious fact that Dantès himself was a sailor during the happy years of his life. Likewise, there is a clear parallel between Sinbad’s seven dangerous voyages leading up to his ultimate wealth and Dantès’s own dangerous journey through prison before the discovery of his treasure.