Log Line

A young man wrongly accused of political conspiracy and sentenced to indefinite detention in a political prison escapes and attempts to exact revenge on those who were responsible for his imprisonment.

Overview

Medium: Novel (Published 1844–1846)

Author(s): Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870)

Original Publication: Journal des Débats (18-parts)

As The Count of Monte Cristo begins, the main character, Edmond Dantès, is a smart and skillful young sailor on a French merchant vessel called the Pharaon, which is owned by a respected Marseilles merchant named Morrel. When the ship docks in Marseilles after a long voyage, it soon becomes clear that she has encountered troubles along the way—not to the vessel itself but to her crew, which has lost its brave captain, Leclère, to brain fever during the journey home. Upon the captain's demise, command of the vessel transferred temporarily to Edmond, who handled the responsibility skillfully but committed what will prove to be a critical error by honoring the captain's dying request to deliver a packet to someone on the Island of Elba, where the former French Emperor, Napoleon Bonapart, has been exiled by King Louis XVIII, the current ruler of France.

It is this simple act, and Edmond's intention to fulfill the captain's other last request—to deliver an envelope to someone in Paris—that will prove to throw his life off its rails and send it on the long and arduous journey that the story details.

After making sure that the ship is safely in port and all the formalities of its docking are taken care of, Edmond races off to visit the two people he loves most—his father and his fiancée, Mercédès, a beautiful Catalan girl who loves him deeply. In doing so, he also encounters two of the four men who will soon become his mortal enemies—a false friend of the family, Gaspard Caderousse, and a hot-tempered young man, Fernand Mondego, who burns with an unrequited love for the lovely Mercédès (who is his cousin). Together with the supercargo on the Pharaon, a man named Danglars, who is jealous of Edmond's favored status as the front-runner to become the new captain, these two men will become part of a heinous act of subterfuge that will destroy Edmond's hopes and dreams regarding the Pharaon and the beautiful Mercédès.

On the day of the wedding between Edmond and Mercédès, but before they can take their vows, the festivities are rudely interrupted by a magistrate and several soldiers who arrest Edmond on the charge of being a Bonapartist agent, and therefore an enemy of the king—a charge fabricated by means of letter drawn up by Danglars and conveyed to the authorities by Fernand, the true nature of which is kept secret by the silence of Caderousse. Edmond is whisked away to face the deputy royal prosecutor, Gérard de Villefort, who might very well set him free out of pity if it were not for the contents of the letter that Edmond was asked by Captain Leclère to deliver to Paris—a letter that implicates Villefort's own father, Noirtier de Villefort, as a member of the Bonapartist faction.

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