The Count of Monte Cristo: Summary & Characters

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joe Ricker

Joe has a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Learn about Alexandre Dumas' famous novel ''The Count of Monte Cristo,'' a tale of betrayal, revenge and redemption. Much like the plot of most thrillers today, Dumas' brings the main character Dantes through an array of challenges that he must overcome to achieve redemption.

Summary & Characters Part 1

The Count of Monte Cristo is a novel by Alexandre Dumas about love, betrayal, jealousy and revenge. After all, what's a love story without jealousy, betrayal, and revenge?

This particular novel tells the story of Edmond Dantes, a well-adept sailor aboard the ship Pharaon. During the voyage, the captain of the Pharaon dies, and Dantes takes over, impressing the ship's owner. Dantes is promised a captainship when he returns to port in Marseilles. Also set to marry his fiancé Mercedes, things are looking up for Dantes.

This wouldn't be much of a revenge story without a villain or betrayal. Unfortunately, Dantes' success has incurred jealousy, which has created more than one enemy for him.

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  • 0:04 Summary & Characters Part 1
  • 0:47 Summary & Characters Part 2
  • 2:00 Summary & Characters Part 3
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Summary & Characters Part 2

Everyone in the story of The Count of Monte Cristo seems to be jealous of Dantes. Fernand Mondego is jealous of Dantes because he wants Mercedes for himself. Baron Danglars is jealous of Dantes' promised captainship of the Pharaon, which he wants. Gaspard Caderousse is a jealous neighbor of Dantes. Gerard de Villefort is a prosecutor who fears a letter that Dantes is carrying for Villefort's father - it might bring harm to Villefort's social and political status. The four of them plot to rid themselves of Dantes, each benefiting in their own way with Dantes out of the picture.

The four men conspire and Dantes is taken away in secret and imprisoned at Chateau d'If, an inescapable prison. Dantes does all he can to keep his sanity during his solitary confinement. Eventually, he hears Abbe Faria, another prisoner, burrowing through the prison. Dantes begins to dig as well and soon meets the elderly Abbe. Abbe teaches Dantes many scholarly things. He also tells Dantes of an incredible Italian treasure that's been hidden on an island. Just before the two of them have burrowed their way out, Abbe dies. Dantes conceals the body and hides himself in Abbe's burial sack that the guards carry out and throw into the sea.

Summary & Characters Part 3

Dantes is picked up by smugglers. Because of Dantes' sailing prowess, he is an asset to the smugglers and travels with them until he can locate the treasure that Abbe told him about. When he finally discovers it, he reemerges into society a very wealthy man. He calls himself the Count of Monte Cristo (hence the title of the novel). At this point, Dantes is ready to exact his revenge on the people responsible for ruining his life.

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