The Count of Monte Cristo | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo | Chapters 31–33 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 31

It is now 1838. Two well-to-do young men, Vicomte Albert de Morcerf and Baron Franz d'Epinay, have reserved a hotel suite from Signor Pastrini in Rome, Italy, for carnival season. Before going to Rome to meet Albert, Franz decides to take a boat trip to the island of Elba. At the suggestion of the head boatman, Gaetano, Franz decides to go to the island of Monte Cristo to hunt goats. On the way to the island, Gaetano tells Franz that the island is sometimes used by smugglers and pirates. When they arrive after sunset, four smugglers and two Corsican bandits are cooking a goat on the shore. Gaetano gets their permission to land, and Franz is invited to dine with the chief of the smugglers. Franz must agree to be blindfolded before he is led to the chief's home. Franz learns from a sailor that this chief is not one of the smugglers but is a French aristocrat, who has an expensive yacht and an underground grotto on the island. He is led to the luxurious underground home where he is greeted by a handsome man in his late 30s, wearing Tunisian dress, who says that people call him Sinbad the Sailor. Franz detects that Sinbad has suffered and has a "terrible account to settle," but Sinbad protests that he lives a happy life, traveling where he likes, saving bandits and criminals from the law, and imposing his own brand of justice. He suggests that he might one day go to Paris. Franz says that if he does go, he'd like to return Sinbad's hospitality, but Sinbad says he will most likely be in disguise in Paris. After dinner, Sinbad offers his guest hashish, and the remainder of Franz's night is a blur of fascinating images.

Chapter 32

Franz wakes up on a soft bed of heather in a cave that bears no resemblance to Sinbad's home. Sinbad has sailed off for an appointment in Malaga, leaving apologies for Franz. After spending some time on Monte Cristo looking for the entrance to Sinbad's home, Franz makes his way to the hotel in Rome where he is to meet Albert de Morcerf. They've rented two bedrooms and a sitting room, and Signor Pastrini, the owner, tells them that the rest of the floor was rented by the Count of Monte Cristo. Franz is dismayed that it's too late to rent a horse carriage for the carnival; there are none to be found in all of Rome.

Chapter 33

The next morning, the innkeeper tells Franz and Albert that although there are no carriages available for the most important days of the carnival, they can rent one for Thursday through Saturday. They rent a carriage and spend the day touring St. Peter's. Franz, who knows Rome well, wants to show Albert the Colosseum by moonlight. The innkeeper warns them that the route they plan to take will make them vulnerable to attack by the famous bandit Luigi Vampa. Albert makes light of the danger, and Pastrini tells them Vampa's history. As a very young boy Vampa was a poor but highly intelligent shepherd who learned to read and write, was a talented artist and woodcarver, and became an excellent marksman. He had antisocial tendencies and an obsessive relationship with his girlfriend, Teresa. After killing the leader of a group of bandits for attempting to abduct Teresa, Vampa took over leadership of the bandits and now terrorizes the roads around Rome. He typically kidnaps his victims and holds them for ransom. If the ransom does not arrive within a specified time, he kills the victim.

Analysis

Ten years have passed since Edmond Dantès sailed out of Marseille, vowing vengeance. Nothing about his life during those missing years is explained, but Dantès is greatly changed. The lack of detail about these changes makes Dantès a man of mystery and keeps his plans hidden from the reader so that what unfolds will come as a complete surprise. The reader knows only that he is bent on revenge; his exact plans, his position, his allies, and his abilities are all hidden. Dumas's approach is that of a master storyteller, of course; to explain Dantès's plans would make the narrative of their unfolding anticlimactic.

Mysterious and powerful, the transformed Dantès is the chief of the smugglers and has exotic tastes in food, clothing, and home decor. He is now the Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas eases the reader into the transition by having Dantès introduce himself to Franz as Sinbad the Sailor, the alias Dantès used in Marseille. When Pastrini tells Franz and Albert that the Count of Monte Cristo is renting the neighboring apartment, readers are prepared for this new incarnation of Dantès. As Sinbad, he has told Franz that he enjoys saving bandits and criminals from the law, so it's likely that he has some connection with Luigi Vampa, the fearsome Roman bandit.

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