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Dumas' The Count of Monte-Cristo Book Review

Categories: Book Review

Alexandre Dumas was born in 1802; his parents were Thomas Alexandre Dumas and Marie-Louis-Elizabeth-Laboret. His father died when he was about 3 years of age, leaving the family to suffer financially. Dumas was raised by his mother in a town called Villers-Cotterets. He was educated at a parochial school. He worked as a clerk when he was younger. He decided to move to Paris in 1822, at the age of 20 due to his growing interest in theatre. Dumas permanently moved to Paris a year later.

After becoming g a clerk for the Duc d’Orléans, he collaborated with Adolphe du Leuven and Pierre-Joseph Rousseau on his first staged play titled “LaChassse Et L’amour” in 1825.

Dumas started writing plays and then he turned all of his plays into novels. He rewrote one of is plays to create his first serial novels titled “Le Capitaine Paul” which lead to his forming a production studio that had turned out hundreds of stories. From 1839 to 1841, Dumas and friends complied celebrated crimes, and eight volume collection of essays on famous criminals and their crimes in European history.

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 He then wrote a book called “The Fencing Master”. It took place in Russia, Russia banned the book from their country, and this caused Dumas to be banned from Russia until Czar Nicholas died. In 1840, he married an actress named Ida Ferrier, and continued, supposedly, having affairs with other women. He had four illegitimate children. He had one son, named after him that would follow in his footsteps in becoming a successful novelist and playwright.

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Dumas’ writing made him very rich, but he kept spending lavishly on women and sumptuous living. He built the Chateau de Monte Cristo, two years later; he had to sell the beautiful property because he was short on money.

Dumas died in 1870 and was buried where he was born. On November 30, 2002, Dumas’ body was exhumed and put in a brand new coffin, draped in blue. That event was televised. Onto the Count of Monte-Cristo, it was Dumas’ best-known novel after “The Three Musketeers”. Its based on a true story, improbable as that may seem. Dumas employed collaborators to search through published memoirs for suitably existing plots. A volume called “Memoires Tires des Archives de la Police de Paris” by Jaques Peuchet, and it caught Dumas’ attention.

In Peuchet’s memoires, was a case of wrongful imprisonment and avengence that appealed to Peuchet strongly. In 1807, a shoemaker, residing in Paris, named Francis Picaud, was engaged to marry Marguerite Vigoroux, a beautiful, rich orphan. Four of Picaud’s friends, jealous of his new fortune, accused him of being an English agent. Picaud was taken away by police, who were worried about insurrectionary movements, at the time. In 1814, with the fall of the empire, Picaud was released from the castle Fenestrelle, where he had been imprisoned.

While he was held captive, he looked after an Italian prelate who was in prison for a political charge. The man informed Picaud about a treasure he had hidden in Milan. When Picaud was released from imprisonment, he went to Milan to go and get the treasure and returned to the place that he was staying before he went to prison to plot against the people that did this to him.

Dumas liked the idea of creating a character who had a fortune and avenges. The Count of Monte-Cristo was a great success. Dumas had great senses of narrative and dialogue. He had a creative imagination but a very limited sum of critical sense and a vague concern for historical accuracy.

Characters are described as one-dimensional, and stranded in the molds Dumas had set for them. Despite many problems, the book is still intriguing on many, many levels. The Count of Monte-Cristo satisfies the dreams of anyone who has strived to win the lottery or whoever has wanted to get revenge on someone who deserved it. Monte-Cristo is classified as a “nineteenth century Superman” (Jennifer Smith). His Houdini-like escape from prison was miraculous. He even escaped his planned death! Everything goes right for the Count.

During the party of the book that is set in Rome, Dumas portrays Monte-Cristo as a Byronic hero, after the romantic poet, Lord Byron. He was the most talked about man of the age. Women were drawn to him like magnets! Despite the references to Byron, the resemblances of him and Monte-Cristo are superficial. The Byronic hero seems to be more complex than Monte-Cristo. He’s usually guilty of something against society’s rules or something and searches for meaning. But, this isn’t Monte-Cristo… Monte-Cristo is confident of the moral order of the world. Dumas threw in the Byronic allusions only to add some spice into his literary pot, just to give it flavor.

It also applies to the Venetian lady. She thinks that Monte-Cristo was a vampire because of his pale skin. Vampire lore was often associated with Byron, who also resembled a vampire figure with his obsession to darkness and destructive characteristics of love. There is a great similarity to the vampire myth and Monte-Cristo that this allusion would work. Monte-Cristo has returned many times from the Château d’If to ruin living people’s lives.

Dumas uses another one of his favorite authors to get some help with some plot devices. William Shakespeare. When Valentine drinks the potion given to her by Monte-Cristo, she falls into a deep sleep, resembling death. Her family then buries her and soon after, she is awaken and is reunited with her love, Maximilien. This is basically what happened in Romeo and Juliet.

Hamlet, another Shakespearean play, shares many similarities to The Count of Monte-Cristo. Hamlet believes he has a mission from God to complete by avenging someone who had done wrong. But he doesn’t go along with the task. Monte-Cristo, on the other hand, goes along with his task, and accomplishes his revenge.

Innocent suffering doesn’t trouble Monte-Cristo, not until the death of Edourard. His revenge wreaks devastation on all the families. He doesn’t question his own actions because he bleives he’s suffering a punishment by God for his sins. He uses that argument upon the death of Caderousse. He cleared his guilt for not preventing his murder by stating that he refuses to get in between justice. Dumas uses the same argument for inaction with Madame de Villefort went and poisoned four people.

Everyone who suffers deserves their own misery. Those who die untimely deaths are recipients of the justice of God. That’s not an argument that can take much scrutiny. If Monte-Cristo were consistent, he would have to acknowledge that according to his beliefs, the injustice of seeking revenge must also have to have been a part of the judgment of God. His own sufferings during his fourteen year imprisonment, the same argument could be applied to that. It’s a weak argument for a person to hold that someone else’s death or mourning is sent by God.

Monte-Cristo eventually comes to his senses and sees that God is the only source of supreme power. If he had taken more notice to his enemy, Villefort, who had commented at their first meeting, he may have learned what he had learned a lot sooner. In his final words to Maximilien, the sum of all human wisdom is summed up into two words, “wait and hope” (The Count of Monte-Cristo).

In the book, a nineteen year old, Edmund Dantès, a future ship captain, a future husband. He has the perfect life. Or so you think. His perfect life ends up getting a little dangerous when his so-called friends step in. Fernand Mondego is the one in love with Dantès’ fiancée. He and a couple others make up a letter accusing Dantès of treason and on the day of his wedding, he’s arrested for the false crime.

The deputy sees through the false accusation, and sets Dantès free, but he isn’t set free because he reveals the name of the man to whom he is supposed to deliver the letter from Napoleon. Dantès ends up getting sent to the Château d’If , where all the most dangerous political prisoners are held. While he was in prison, he meets a priest, Abbè Faria, who was imprisoned because of his political views. Faria taught Dantès history, science, languages, and philosophy, turning Dantès into a very well educated man.

Faria tells Dantès of a treasure hidden on Monte-Cristo, and tells him how to find it. Dantès digs himself a tunnel and throws himself into the sea and swims for freedom. Dantès arrives at Monte-Cristo finds Faria’s treasure. He considers this fortune a gift from God, given to him for the purpose of people helping him out, and punishing those who have not helped him out. He disguised himself as an Italian priest named Abbé Busoni and travels back to Marseilles and visits Caderousse, who is struggling to make a living as an innkeeper.

Caderousse tells Dantès more of the plot that his friends used to frame him, and that his father had died of the grief of his absence, and his fiancée, married Fernand. He also found out that Fernand and another one of his old friends who betrayed him, had become rich and powerful and reside in Paris. Dantès gives Caderousse a very valuable diamond as a reward for giving him the information.

Ten years later, Dantès is in Rome, he now goes by the name, The Count of Monte-Cristo, an all-knowing and unstoppable man. Dantès meets the son of Fernand and Mercedes, Albert. He saved him from bandits. In return for the favor, Albert introduces Dantès to Parisian society. Dantès then starts to plot his revenge.

Fernand is the first one to be punished. Dantès revealed his darkest secret. Frenand got rich by betraying his former patron and sold Ali Pacha’s wife into slavery. Villefort’s punishment comes at a slow, steady pace, and in many stages. He tutors Madame Villefort in the use of potion, he then has her killing people of the household. He then publicly exposes Villefort’s charge of infanticide.

For Danglar’s revenge, Dantès just drains him of money. He spares his life but leaves him with no money, not a cent. Dantès does one act of goodness though. He helps out Maximilian by saving his fiancee, Valentine from her stepmother. He gives Valentine a pill that simulates death, but really she’s asleep, and carries her off to Monte-Cristo. Maximilian thinks that she’s dead, which makes him want to die too, but Dantès reveals that Valentine is actually alive. Maximilian and Valentine live happily together. Dantès also finds happiness with Haydée.

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Dumas' The Count of Monte-Cristo Book Review. (2016, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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