The Count of Monte Cristo Lesson Plan

Those who are not intimidated by its length (117 chapters and 1,500 pages) discover in The Count of Monte Cristoa fascinating adventure novel, nothing like the dry philosophizing we pertain to anticipate from “the classics.” From the very first chapters, in which our lead character is wrongly implicated of treason and tossed in prison on his wedding day, the action races from one dramatic (and not necessarily credible) scene to the next. We have drugs with almost wonderful powers, cold-blooded murders of all kinds, incredible coincidences, secret love affairs, betrayal in its every shade, impregnable prisons, shipwrecks and smugglers, and obviously, the treasure of Monte Cristo – an endless supply of diamonds and emeralds and gold.

Alexandre Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristoin 1844 and it was released in 18 pieces between the years 1844-46. We can imagine 19th century Frenchmen talking about the current installment and waiting impatiently to see what would happen next, as we may make with a popular television show.

But Dumas offers the reader more than a good story. Rather, the novel is a deep exploration of vengeance: cruelly imaginative methods to vengeance, the point at which even the most righteous payback is no longer warranted, the mental effect of dedicating one’s life to pursuing one’s opponents. Revenge here takes on biblical percentages; Dantes is not just a man getting back at an opponent – he considers himself an instrument of divine justice, an emissary of God. Unlike many timeless novels, The Count of Monte Cristodoes not consist of a love story at the center of its plot. In Dantes’ world, love takes a rear seat to comprehensive, long-lasting hatred.

While we are observing the Count’s almost superhuman plots, we also become witnesses to life in 19th century French society. Dumas describes with great accuracy the lives of French aristocrats of his time – the correct routines of checking out good friends and associates, nights at the opera, suppers and balls, trips to Italy for Carnival, engagements and marital relationships, and so on. We learn what is acceptable, appreciated and looked down upon. We see men rise and fall in the financial, political, and legal arenas. While describing French society is not Dumas’ main function in the novel, he certainly dedicates effort to getting the information right!

Key Elements of The Count of Monte Cristo


Dumas utilizes a severe tone throughout the novel. Almost every scene is imbued with the gravity of fate – fitting for a story of divine justice. Chains of events move with an air of inevitability to their remarkable conclusions.


Marseilles, 1815

The novel starts in dynamic seaside Marseilles, house to lead character Edmond Dantes and the other key characters, including the computing Danglars, the enthusiastic Villefort, the lovelorn Fernand, the upstanding Morrel, and the lovely Mercedes. 1815 is a time of political turmoil – the exiled Napoleon is preparing for a return, only to be vanquished several months after his return. Marseilles is the setting for the occasion that precipitates the remainder of the plot – Dantes’ jail time on the basis of a false accusation. Chateau D’If, 1815-1829

For a couple of chapters, the reader is shut away along with Dantes in this high-security dungeon for political prisoners. In plain contrast to the other settings of the unique, the Chateau D’If is bleak, isolated and dark. It seems a setting more suitable for death than life.

Paris, 1838

The majority of the novel occurs in Paris, where Dantes returns to perform his vengeance on those who wronged him. Most of the characters we fulfilled in Marseilles have moved here, and are now part of the glamorous, if somewhat shallow, Parisian society. Paris offers a significant backdrop for Dantes’ imaginative schemes as the Count of Monte Cristo – shimmering ballrooms, country homes with hidden staircases and secrets, dark streets concealing murderers, and beautiful mansions housing rich but unhappy families.


The Count of Monte Cristo is written in 3rd person. Although we periodically peek into the minds of certain characters, particularly Dantes/Monte Cristo, the storyteller is not totally omniscient, leaving many secrets concealed till they come to light through dialogue or action. This ability to reveal and hide characters’ thoughts and sensations according to his impulses permits Dumas to preserve suspense throughout the novel, keeping readers on edge.

Character development

Over the 23-year period covered by the unique, protagonist Edmond Dantes undergoes a variety of severe modifications. In fact, he embraces an entirely brand-new identity as the Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond modifications from a trusting, good-natured teen to a terrifying, almost inhuman being driven by revenge alone. His revenge, in turn, alters him yet once again towards completion of the novel, leading him to question his actions and inspirations and think about that there might be some excellent in life.

We likewise witness a modification (though a less remarkable one) in Fernand Mondego’s son Albert. Albert is introduced to us as a Parisian fop – brave and total excellent, however driven mostly by the pleasure of the finest enjoyments in life. By the end of the novel, he willingly sacrifices all this to atone for his father’s sins through poverty and tough labor.

Dantes’ banes, on the other hand, do not alter much throughout the novel – in fact, Dantes utilizes the same vices that led them to betray him in 1815 to produce their failure in 1838. Danglars remains driven by greed and desire for earnings. Villefort makes ever greater sacrifices in the name of ambition. Caderousse remains a pathetic coward, ever dissatisfied with his lot. And Fernand is still hotheaded, deceitful, and willing to betray anybody to get what he desires. Toward completion of the novel, all of Dantes’ opponents fall apart completely in one way or another.

Similarly, the few excellent characters in the novel barely change. Angelic Julie and her hubby Emmanuel are simply as perfect in 1838 as they were when we satisfied them in 1829. Valentine is unbendingly generous and kind, Maximilian brave, unfaltering, and idealistic.



Revenge is the central theme of The Count of Monte Cristo. Revenge is Dantes’ driving force from the minute he discovers who has mistreated him. It supplies the strength to get away prison and develop a new life for himself, and the inspiration to design complex plots that exquisitely destroy each of his enemies. It is also revenge that hangs over Dantes’ life like a dark cloud, keeping him from finding true joy or building bonds with other humans. Can revenge, however warranted, ever be a good thing? As the reader vacillates between the complete satisfaction of seeing wicked males get their fees and the horror at the lead character’s practically inhuman character, Dumas explores this question without straight answering it.


Hand in hand with revenge, Dumas explores the idea of justice. Who is guilty before Dantes? Definitely Danglars, Fernand and Villefort, who straight played a role in his imprisonment. But what about Caderousse, who found out of their betrayal and did not speak out? What about Mercedes, who did not understand of the plot, however chose to marry Fernand after Dantes stopped working to return home? What about Fernand’s kid Albert? Are the sins of the daddy likewise the sins of the child? As soon as regret is identified, what retribution do the guilty deserve? At what point can they be considered to have received a full punishment? More significantly, whose task is it to make these choices? To what degree does man can carry out the will of God (as he sees it)? If Dantes had not stepped up to provide justice, serious criminal offenses would have gone completely unpunished. This does not appear just. At the same time, Dantes vengeance seems to go too far sometimes, to the point where it can possibly no longer be thought about simply either.


Another secondary style Dumas checks out is the role of an individual’s attitude in identifying his or her fate. Dantes secretly provides financial help to the family of his previous company Morrel as well as to his former neighbor Caderousse. Nine years later, Morrel’s child and child live happy lives, material with their lot and eternally grateful to their benefactor. Caderousse, on the other hand, is dissatisfied with his windfall, and murders a jeweler and his own other half in a mission for more cash. When he is eventually able to leave prison and receives another chance at life, he turns to a life of crime once again. Caderousse might have been perfectly delighted, thanks to Dantes’ present. Instead, his mindset condemned him to suffering and an early death.


The Count of Monte Cristo is light on signs. One reoccuring item is M. Morrel’s red silk purse. When Edmond Dantes is in prison, his former company, Morrel, brings his starving father some money in a red silk bag. Years later on, Dantes leaves prison and finds the purse in his daddy’s home. At this point, Morrel is going bankrupt, and Dantes conserves him, offering financial assistance in this exact same purse. We see the bag again nearly 10 years later, protected by Morrel’s kids as a sign of their benefactor. In a story focused on revenge, the purse is a tangible suggestion of a better side of life: kindness and the benefits for these deeds.

Another key symbol is a nearly magical elixir, which has the ability to deal with disease or kill the drinker. We initially see the elixir (or possibly another similar drug), in the Chateau d’If, where the Abbe Faria instructs Dantes to utilize it to restore him after a fit of epilepsy. The elixir initially works, but ultimately can not save the abbe from dying. When Dantes resurfaces as the Count of Monte Cristo, he uses the elixir as a medication to restore characters at key points in the book. Nevertheless, when somebody must pass away, like Caderousse after he is stabbed, or Edward after he is poisoned, Dantes’ elixir can not conserve them. The elixir represents the Count of Monte Cristo’s power over other guys – sometimes seeming practically superhuman, but ultimately minimal before the power of God.


Although the unique consists of numerous climax-like scenes, each referring the failure of a different character, perhaps the most considerable is Villefort’s embarrassment and the subsequent death of Madame de Villefort and her boy. Villefort’s penalty – a very public denunciation by his invalid kid – is more significant than Caderousse’s peaceful murder or de Morcerf’s suicide. It is followed by the no less significant discovery that his other half has actually poisoned herself and her son. This moment first makes Monte Cristo question his project of justice and vengeance; for the remainder of the book, the tone modifications appropriately.


The Count of Monte Cristo is divided into 117 short, action-packed chapters, reflecting its original format (18 fragments released gradually over 2 years). The unique tends to move chronologically, but only discuss some time durations briefly and entirely skips others. These are deliberate choices on Dumas’ part – creating mystery where needed (i.e. the Count of Monte Cristo’s journeys in 1829-1837) and offering plentiful information in essential moments (the events in Paris in the summer of 1838). A number of detailed flashbacks are an exception to the sequential structure. These supply detailed backstory when it is most needed to understand upcoming events.

The book can be divided into roughly 4 parts:

1) Chapters 1-14; Dantes’ life in Marseilles and apprehend

2) Chapters 15-30; Dantes’ experience in prison, escape, and return to Marseilles

3) Chapters 31-38; Dantes’ interaction with Albert and Franz in Italy; initially introduction of Dantes as the Count of Monte Cristo

4) Chapters 38-117; Dantes arrives to Paris brings his revenge plot to fulfillment

As is evident from the relative length of the final part compared to the others, the details of the lead character’s revenge form Dumas’ main focus.

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