The classic The Count of Monte Cristo gives us an adventurous revenge tale that has stood the test of time. Entertaining since its 1844-45 release, this story holds themes and plots of intrigue that still interests readers today. It even has inspiration from a true crime, a topic that has boomed into its own nonfiction category recently. The actual book resembles a brick in its physical dimensions, but so far it reads simply enough.
First, the story begins in Marseille, France near a Notre Dame de la Garde port in 1815. Young Edmond Dantes leads the ship Pharaon to Fort Saint-Jean as its first mate, and he has the promise of becoming captain due to Captain Leclere’s death during the voyage. At somewhere between 18-20, Dantes already holds a lot of hope for a satisfying life with the prospect of becoming a captain so young and marrying a beautiful woman.
Dantes couldn’t fill a 1,000+ page book if those details unfolded so easily though. Danglars, the supercargo slightly older than Dantes and generally less well liked, greets ship owner Morrell with a story about Dantes that contradicts the one Morrell heard from Dantes. This only marks the beginning of the words Danglars spins to paint a negative portrait of Dantes. He later demonstrates how a pen and words can hold as much as and more danger than a sword or pistol.
Sweet reunions abound when Dantes visits his father and then his fiancé Mercedes to arrange their marriage. However, Mercedes accepting Dantes stings Fernand because he wants to marry his cousin Mercedes. Upon leaving, he accepts the invitation to join Danglars and Caderousse as they plot a downfall for Dantes. This leads to an interruption at the betrothal party that ends with men arresting Dantes. In a parallel scene, we see the judge Villefort leave his own betrothal party to oversee Dantes in court. The lies continue to thicken as Villefort sees the letter allegedly condemning Dantes reveals a secret about himself. So he sends Dantes to a cell at Chateau D’If.
These first seven chapters set up a story of secrets and deceit. The players who play a key role in Dantes’s arrest cater to their selfish ambition and jealousy despite the harm they cause. Now I wonder to what lengths Villefort will go to keep his secret and therefore maintain his position in society and how far Danglars will go to get his desired status on the ship as well as how deep his dislike for Dantes goes and why. Of course the story continues with Dantes going to jail, so I wonder how he will handle imprisonment. I know a revenge plot and treasure adventure has yet to unfold.