The Count or Monte Cristo
Monte Cristo is paying an older gentleman to act as Marquis Bartolomeo Calvacanti, father of Andrea Calvacanti. They are both receiving an allowance to act as Andrea Calvacanti. They are presented to one another.
Monte Cristo also invites them to his dinner party. He intends to introduce Andrea Calvacanti to Parisien society. Analysis: Monte Cristo is here setting the stage for Calvacanti’s entrance to Parisien society where he will be instrumental in the downfall of Villefort, Caderousse, and Danglars. Chapter 32 In this chapter one learns that Maximilien Morrel and Valentine are in love.
Valentine’s father however, is to marry her off to Franz d’Epinay, whom she can never love. Her stepmother is opposed to the idea of her marrying in general for it means that Madame de Villefort’s son will have nothing to inherit, for valentine will receive the fortune. Valentine and Maximilien meet in the garden, but Valentine must hurry off to meet her stepmother. Analysis: This chapter presents Valentine’s marriage dilemma. Her father still is trying to loose his ties to the Bonapartists. He thus wishes to marry her to the son of a staunch royalist.
Valentine, however, is closer to her Bonapartist grandfather. Noirtier will reveal his biggest secret to save her from the arms of a man she does not love. This chapter also presents Valentine’s stepmother as a greedy mother who only seeks funds for her son. This woman’s monetary greed foreshadows the tragedies that will strike the Villefort household. She is in fact a mirror image of Villefort, who was willing to sacrifice human life for is own gain. Chapter 33 Monsieur and Madame de Villefort live with Noirtier, Villefort’s aged paralyzed father.
Noirtier’s fortune shall pass to Valentine upon her marriage. Thus, in this chapter, the Villefort’s proceed to Noirtier’s chamber to tell him of Valentine’s coming marriage to Baron Franz d’Epinay. Noirtier is unable to speak since he suffered a stroke, however his discomfort and fury at this arrangement is apparent. There is existed much political enmity between Noirtier and this family. In fact, Noirtier was suspected of murdering the Baron’s father. Villefort’s goal in marrying Valentine to the Baron is thus to allay suspicion of this assassination. Valentine is summoned.
She alone can decipher the old man’s thoughts. He decides to make a will disinheriting Valentine if she marries the Baron. She, of course, approves of this for she does not wish to marry the Baron. She will still have Noirtier’s love. Valentine also has other sources of income. Thus, Noirtier’s actions are a threat to Villefort, not Valentine. Villefort, however, will not allow themselves to be intimidated by the whims of an old man. Let him donate his money to charity, says Madame de Villefort, for he has also made it clear that the money will not go to Madame de Villefort’s son.
Analysis: This chapter is a continuation of the previous chapter. Noirtier attempts to save Valentine from marriage. By denying her of his fortune, (but not his love) he hopes to prevent her father from marrying her to Franz. He will have to resort to greater measures, however. Only after he reveals his guilt in the death of Franz d’Epinay’s father Chapter 34 The Count visits the Villeforts to remind them to attend his dinner party at his Auteuil house. Monsieur de Villefort of course recognizes the address of this haunting house.
It is the one where he was stabbed attempting to bury his live newborn child. The Count also sends a telegram to Debray in this chapter relating a contrived news bulletin of a political chaos in Spain. Debray thus rushes to Danglars’ wife telling her to recommend to her husband that he sell all his Spanish bonds. He does so, though he loses money. At the end of the day when the news is proven false, the bonds rise to twice their original value. The net loss for Danglars is thus a million francs. Analysis: The Count’s mechanism to destroy two of his enemies is set in motion.
He insists that the Villeforts attend, even though this shall be very emotionally taxing for the public prosecutor. The Count also is responsible for providing false information to Debray. This will cause Danglars to speculate incorrectly and lose one million francs. Chapter 35 The guests arrive at the dinner party. Monte Cristo serves them astounding exotic foods. Bertuccio, his servant recognizes Andrea Calvacanti as the newborn baby he has saved from Villefort’s box. It is the baby his sister in law raised. He also recognizes Madame Danglars as the woman Villefort used to visit at Auteuil.
After dinner, Monte Cristo gives the guests a tour of the house and makes several insinuations that a crime was committed in his new house. He gives the guest a tour, finally leading them to the garden where he says he dug up the skeleton of a newborn baby. All the while he has observed Villefort and Madame Danglars tremble. Analysis: The Count’s tour causes Villefort and Madame Danglars much psychological trauma. The rest of the guest’s are astounded at the Count’s exotic hospitality. The exotic foods are a symbol of the Count’s worldliness. He is no longer a naïve youth.
Villefort trembles because he now realizes that the Count knows the secrets of his past. He is aware that there was no skeleton buried in the garden, for he had searched for this very same skeleton and had never found it. Thus, he is aware that the count is lying to everyone by saying that he had found the remains of a newborn baby. Chapter 36 Caderousse returns as an escaped convict and enters Andrea Calvacanti’s carriage as he is leaving Monte Cristo’s dinner party. He demands a cut of what Calvacanti is being paid by Monte Cristo. Andrea agrees. Analysis:
This chapter links both Caderousse and Calvacanti (Benedetto). It creates tension between the two that shall not be resolved until Benedetto kills Caderousse when he attempts to rob the Count. Chapter 37 Monsieur Debray, upon leaving Monte Cristo’s dinner party, returns to Madame Danglars’ residence. He notices her agitation but she denies any trouble. Danglars enters their suite. He advises his wife that she should not keep Debray away from his house late at night since Debray’s residence is some distance away. Debray is shocked at this intrusion.
Danglars, however, wins the battle of words between himself and his wife. Debray leaves. Danglars proceeds to blame her for ruining his fortune. He demands that she pay him a quarter of what he lost because it was at her request that he had sold his Spanish bonds. After all, he reasons, when he earns money he pays her a cut of the profits. When he gives her this money he claims that he does not ask her where she spends it, though he insinuates that he knows she passes it on to Debray. Thus, if she does not have the money to pay for the loss, she should ask Debray for the money.
Danglars knows all about her love affairs. He knows that Debray is not the first, and he tolerates it until it dips into his fortune. He even knows that her past includes her lover Monsieur de Villefort, and that she was at one time six months pregnant by him. Madame Danglars is overwhelmed. Analysis: Monte Cristo has succeeded in ruining a million francs of Danglars’ fortune by providing false knowledge to Debray. Danglars consequently falsely speculated after his wife relayed Debray’s false information. Thus Monte Cristo is on the road to destroying the man who was the mastermind behind his incarceration.
His destruction must occur slowly, however, just as he was made to rot slowly away in prison. Chapter 38 Danglars pays a visit to Monte Cristo. He complains of his investment adviser, Jacopo, who never made a mistake till now. He just lost seven hundred thousand francs at Trieste. Calvacanti is also opening credit with Danglars, and Monte Cristo backs up this man’s “incredible fortune” verbally for Danglars. He also mentions that Calvacanti’s son may be looking for a Parisien wife. Danglars, the speculator is intrigued at this prospect.
He reveals to Monte Cristo that he is not completely sure about his daughter’s engagement to Albert de Morcerf.. Danglars was made a baron, but de Morcerf made himself a count. They are both of humble birth, but there has been scandal attached to Morcerf’s name. Monte Cristo feigns vague recollection of the Ali Pasha affair. Analysis: Monte Cristo continues to destroy Danglars financially. He also wishes to humiliate Danglars publicly. He thus introduces Danglars to the idea that Calvacanti may be looking for a Parisien wife such as Eugenie.
Danglars shall make the arrangements for the betrothal despite his daughter’s wishes. Chapter 39 Madame Danglars visits Monsieur de Villefort, for he had given her an appointment to discuss the previous evening’s events. Recollect that Monte Cristo had told his guests that he had found a skeleton in the backyard of a newborn baby. However, Villefort now admits to Madame Danglars that this is impossible. It is impossible because he had returned after his recuperation from the Corsican’s stabbing to find the garden devoid of any box containing the dead child.
He thus assumes that the Corsican saved the child and that it is alive. Monte Cristo must know their secret and he swears to find out how. Within a week he says he will know who Monte Cristo really is, where he comes from, and why he knows their secret. Analysis: This chapter clarifies that Madame Danglars did not know that her baby was born alive. She believed it to be a stillbirth. She was unaware of Villefort’s evil sin. Ironically, Villefort will soon know Monte Cristos true identity, but only once he has been ruined and Monte Cristo chooses to deliver the final blow.
Chapter 40 Albert returns from Treport and visits Monte Cristo. Albert states that the thought of living with Mademoiselle Danglars every day horrifies him. Monte Cristo reassures Albert by stating that Monsieur Danglars may back out on his word in favor of another husband for his daughter. At this Albert wonders why he is not good enough for Danglars, despite his desire to be rid of the duty to marry. Monte Cristo reassures Albert Danglars is a man of bad taste, and thus prefers another to Albert.