The Count of Monte Cristo (Chapters 6 through 10)

On the Docket: The Count of Monte Cristo (Chapters 6 through 10)

Genre: Classic Literary Fiction

The Plot Thus Far: Although I was rather intrigued by the glimpse into Villefort’s personal life and political philosophy, I was glued to my seat for the duration of chapters 7 & 8. For the first time, we catch light of Dantes’ inner turmoil. My heart broke for him when he was tricked into the gated carriage, the promise of freedom at his fingertips and a life with Mercedes crumbling into a thousand little pieces.

Okay, back to the summary. We are introduced to M. Villefort, who is, coincidentally, attending his own betrothal dinner. The topic of discussion is the extent of M. Villefort’s power to judge a man and render him guilty, innocent, or dead. Although Villefort is clearly of aristocratic blood (and talks that way too), at first the reader can’t help but feel as though his logic will inevitably surface. We can’t deny that, at first glance, he has a sense of morality and sound judgement of character. However, it is the drama surrounding that mysterious letter Dantes was ordered to deliver that becomes his undoing. Villefort is prepared to release Dantes, until he reads the contents of the letter, which apparently fingers his own father as a Bonapartist. This piece of information would, of course, be a stain upon his reputation and ambitions, so he sets into motion a plan that will ultimately silence the only person with access to this juicy bit of gossip. Dantes, being the naive young thing that he is, doesn’t understand the power of that letter, nor does he know the contents. Villefort, however, does not want to take a chance, and orders him locked up in Chateau d’If, after promising that Dantes will only be detained for a couple of days as a precaution.

Alas, the nightmare begins.

The prisoner followed his conductor, who led him into a room almost under ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as though impregnated with tears; a lamp placed on a stool illuminated the apartment faintly, and showed Dantes the features of his conductor; an under-gaoler, ill-clothed, and of sullen appearance.

As you can tell, the future looks very dreary for Edmond Dantes.

The reader is also privy to a moment of moral consciousness for Villefort, who begins to questions his own actions. He begins to wonder if the life of a man is worth the financial gains that will undoubtedly result from his social and political climbing. I even get the impression that he doesn’t feel completely comfortable with himself but, at that point, having already made his choice, feels that he cannot go back. Why? That remains a mystery… or possibly a character flaw. Even even promises himself that, if Renee or Mercedes were to plead one second longer for the life of Edmond Dantes and intervene, he might reconsider his actions. I am not completely convinced of this, but Villefort seems to be convinced of his own behaviour. Needless to say, his logic is somewhat skewed.

Lastly, chapter ten is somewhat unexpected. The reader is actually allowed into the home of King Louis XVIII in Paris, where Villefort has ventured to warn him of potential dangers concerning his father.

Thoughts & Impressions: Even though I was reading chapters 7 & 8 on the bus to and from work, I couldn’t put it down. So, being in the midst of a reading slump, you can imagine my sheer surprise and happiness at such a development. Even though I still struggle to find something satisfying to read, I am very pleased with my progress of The Count of Monte Cristo.

As for the story itself, the description of Chateau d’If was enough to send chills up and down my spine… twice! There is something painfully claustrophobic about the notion of being caged, closed in and kept prisoner. The frustration that builds, which is clearly depicted through Dantes, is palpable. I can feel his anxiety through the pages and I am eager to see Dantes’ plan of revenge take shape.

Villefort, however, is a curious character. While Danglars and company could more traditionally be categorized as villains, but Villefort is a little different. Yes, he is causing Dantes great pain and is obviously greedy enough to ruin the life of another man for his own gain. It is his inner battle of morality and his compulsion to justify his deeds that casts him in a strangely undefinable light. Is he a bonafide villain? 100% evil? I don’t know… yet.

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13 thoughts on “The Count of Monte Cristo (Chapters 6 through 10)

  1. The only villain I see so far who is completely evil is Danglars. Fernand’s crime was a crime of passion, Caderousse cowardice and Villefort a political crime to protect his father and warn the king which he sees as his loyalty and as an excuse to bury a man for his own profit, a thing that was done often during those times by the aristocrats without much thought of its morality. In Villefort we see a representation of the conservative royalist of whom Dumas did not admire. Also, he portrays a man who uses reason above emotion to make his decisions; another thing contrary to Dumas’ beliefs.

    The seeds of bitterness are sown as we watch Dantes world come crashing down. Chateau d’lf the harbinger of the end of Dantes and the birth of The Count of Monte Cristo in the final knowledge that justice will not be served. Too late he begins to understand how the game is played, how the rules can change based on the player. Dantes begins to gain depth as we watch him grow into his frustration and a cold and calculating individual will emerge; much as we see Villefort when he is facing his choices to do what is right or what is best for him. I wonder, without our (or at least my) admiration for the Romantic Movement if we will see Dantes in the same light that Dumas is striving for? Revenge and justice seem more admirable than forgiveness or compassion, at least at the moment.

    • I love that: the seeds of bitterness. You’ve hit the nail on the head Ellie. Dumas is quite the linguistic master isn’t he? I’m rather impressed that he can introduce so many characters within the first hundred pages without confusing the readers. I found myself confused by the cast in Middlemarch; it took some time to get all the names straight. I have yet to feel that level of frustration with this novel just yet.

      • Yeah, he really did a lot for popular fiction! I’m loving it. I was wondering if the character introduction wasn’t confusing because I am familiar with the story, but I think you are right. Dumas takes the time to properly introduce the players and you are able to get into their head so that helps. :)

  2. Well Lydia…You’ve about tortured me this week! What a cliffhanger Chapter X left off! I will probably read Chapter XI in the morning.

    I have to say that I’m liking the historical politics, but I admit I know next to nothing about King Louis XVIII and Napolean Bonaparte. That’s so sad!

    I love Dumas’ writing. It’s so engaging which I think feels fairly atypical of the older writers. Mary Shelley is another one that wrote a really engaging story in Frankenstein.

    I’m liking all the foreshadowing that he’s doing. You know all of these happenings will end in ruin. When Renee is lamenting about her husband-to-be being in control of people’s life and death, and the letter that Dantès was carrying, she says:

    “Here is an ill omen!

    I’m dorky because it’s so in your face, but I loved that moment because I was like, “Indeed, Renee! It is an ill omen!” hehehe

    I also enjoyed the moment when Villefort was interrogating Dantes and he notes that there was a lot of “violent energy beneath his mild exterior.” It’s such a note of things to come that it makes me feel SO excited! Nothing like a good revenge story, right?!

    I liked that moment when Villefort questioned what he was doing as well. Is this the quote you were thinking of?

    “Now, in the depths of that sick heart the first seeds of a mortal abscess begin to spread. That man whom he was sacrificing to his own ambition, that innocent man who was paying the price for the guilt of Villefort’s father, appeared before him, pale and menacing, clasping the hand of a fiancée who was no less pale, and bearing remorse in his train: not the remorse that makes its victims jump up like a Roman raging against his fate, but that bitter, muffled blow that intermittently chimes on the soul and sears it with the memory of some past action, an agonizing wound that lacerates, deeper and deeper until death.”

    Oh man…he knows…he knows what he’s doing and he still does it. This will only end in tears and ruin! It’s like he’s walking the plank. I loved that part. Dumas really gets me with his writing. It’s so nice to have this passionate writing style after some of the more challenging books of the year (this is actually faster reading than The Windup Girl which I just finished).

    I’m with Ellie on this. The Romantic in me is all about the revenge and justice because the setup is just so amazing and you just don’t want forgiveness and compassion. Poor Dantès just didn’t see it coming. He thought he had no enemies and now he’s stuck in Chateau d’If and his father is wasting away with sorrow as is Mercédès….and Fernand just waiting in the wings as she grieves. Good stuff. I can’t wait until next week.

    • So very, very true. That’s a great quote! I gotta say that I’m totally looking forward to the revenge plot because the coldness and selfishness of the people around him, who can so easily do heartless things to virtual strangers, can’t go unpunished. Yes, in the real world we wait for karma to catch up with the people who do mean things, but in fictitious worlds, we don’t have to wait so long! Looking forward to next week’s discussion with you guys! Sorry my response is so late. Went to Toronto for the weekend and was super busy! Hope everyone had a fun weekend.

    • Ha, my response is even later….

      That quote is perfect!

      We are really getting into some good stuff and you are right it is sooo atypical of the writing of time.

  3. I’m so excited to finally have caught up with the readalong and to finally catch up with your posts! Like you, I was riveted through this section, and was thoroughly heartbroken at Dantés’ fate at this point — his innocence is so wonderful to read, but knowing what then happens is so terrifyingly sad. I want him to run away, something — take Mercedes and marry her somewhere far away! :( I can’t put this book down!

    I’m off to check your other posts as well — I’m on Chapter 19 right now!

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