The Count of Monte Cristo | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo | Chapters 112–113 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 112

Maximilien visits his sister, Julie, and her husband, Emmanuel. They discuss the misfortunes that have visited Morcerf, Danglars, and Villefort. Emmanuel suggests that perhaps God struck them because there was nothing in their lives to redeem their bad deeds. Monte Cristo arrives to say goodbye and to collect Maximilien, who will be traveling with him. They leave Paris and go to Marseille. When they arrive, they spot Albert on board a ship that's leaving for Algiers, waving to a veiled woman on the dock. While Maximilien visits his father's grave, Monte Cristo goes to see Mercédès in the house where his father had lived. He wants to know what he can do to bring some happiness or comfort to her future. She says she's angry with herself because she was a coward. She didn't have enough faith to believe that Edmond could still be alive, and she married Fernand because she was afraid to be alone.

Monte Cristo tells her how, after his captivity, he made himself an instrument of God. In doing that, he says, he made himself "vengeful, secretive, and cruel—or rather, impassive, like fate itself." Before he leaves, Monte Cristo asks what she wants, and she responds that the only thing she wants is for her son to be happy. She says she no longer feels she has free will; all she can do is accept God's will. Monte Cristo urges her to use her free will to debate God's power, but Mercédès replies that this would lead her to despair. When they say goodbye, she tells him she still hopes.

Chapter 113

The count feels sad after leaving Mercédès, and questions whether he had set the wrong goal in seeking vengeance. He decides to revisit his past to help him get perspective, so he hires a pleasure boat to take him to the Château d'If. No longer a prison, it is now a tourist attraction. He is taken to see his old cell, and the guide tells him a somewhat distorted version of his own story, including the escape. Being in the cell brings back a flood of memories of those long, difficult years. He notices an inscription he had made on the wall: "'My God!' he reads, 'Let me not forget!'" Visiting Faría's cell brings back the warm feelings he felt for the abbé. He gives the guide such a large tip that the man goes to fetch something to give him in return. While he waits, Monte Cristo kneels by Faría's bed and prays for a sign that he hadn't been mistaken in the path he'd taken. The guard returns and gives the count Abbé Faría's manuscript on the monarchy of Italy. Monte Cristo's eyes fall on the epigraph: "You will pull the dragon's teeth and trample the lions underfoot, said the Lord." This is the answer he'd hoped to find.

Monte Cristo meets Maximilien in the cemetery as planned. Maximilien is to stay in Marseille for a few days while the count takes care of some business in Italy. On October 5, they'll meet on the island of Monte Cristo. The count reminds Maximilien of his promise not to harm himself, and the young man seems to be wavering. Monte Cristo tells him there are people who have suffered even worse than he and have come through it to find happiness. As an example, he tells his own story, avoiding identifying details. Maximilien asks if God sent him consolation, and the count replies that he found tranquility.

Analysis

In these chapters, Monte Cristo tries to resolve some lingering concerns and doubts. Because of his actions, Mercédès's life has completely changed. Monte Cristo could easily provide her with the wealth to maintain the kind of lifestyle she'd had in Paris, but he knows her pride wouldn't allow her to accept that. At least the money left to her by her young fiancé will allow her to live comfortably and independently. She wants nothing for herself, only happiness for her son. Unlike Monte Cristo, she has no impulse to seek out happiness or satisfaction; instead, she accepts her fate and tries to make the best of it. Mercédès's fate in the novel seems a bit unfair. She is punished for being "unfaithful" to Edmond Dantès, but she waited a year-and-a-half with no word of him, believing him to be dead, before marrying Fernand.

Returning to the Château d'If brings Monte Cristo full circle, as this is where his vengeance plan was born, in those long solitary hours in its dungeon. He goes there hoping to find reassurance that his pursuit of vengeance in the name of divine justice hadn't been misguided. Otherwise, he'll be consumed by feelings of remorse for the rest of his life. When he reads the epigraph in Abbé Faría's manuscript, he takes it as a positive message from the spirit of the abbé, so he is able to tell Maximilien, a little later, that he has found tranquility.

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