The Count of Monte Cristo | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo | Chapters 46–48 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 46

The next day, the count asks Bertuccio to purchase, at any price, the two fine horses that draw Baron Danglars's carriage. He also gives Bertuccio detailed instructions about buying an estate near the seaside where he can moor his corvette, or small warship, which will always be kept ready to put to sea. When the horses arrive, he has them hitched to his own carriage and goes to Danglars's mansion to arrange for credit at Danglars's bank. Danglars is skeptical of the amount and source of the count's wealth, but eventually he is convinced to extend credit to the count. Danglars wants to introduce him to Baroness Danglars and checks with the footman to see if she's at home. Told that she has company (Lucien Debray), Danglars explains to the count that Debray is an old family friend. The count already knows that Debray and Baroness Danglars are lovers.

Chapter 47

Soon after the count is introduced to the Baroness, one of her servants tells her that her two horses are missing from the stables. She immediately realizes her husband has sold them and turns her fury on Danglars. She says that Madame de Villefort is planning to borrow the carriage and horses the next day for an outing to the Bois. Danglars whispers to her that he got a very good price for them and he'll share the profits with her. Debray, looking out the window, sees that the two horses in question are harnessed to the count's carriage. The count says his steward had surprised him with the purchase of the horses. With a quarrel looming between the Danglars, the count leaves, pleased about having accomplished his goal. A few hours later, he returns the horses to the baroness as a gift, with a note of apology and the additional gift of four diamonds sewn to their harnesses.

With his servant Ali, Monte Cristo goes to the house in Auteuil. The count tells Ali that when a runaway carriage pulled by the two dapple-grey horses comes by, he must stop the carriage in front of the count's house. Ali manages to stop the horses using a lasso. Monte Cristo brings the woman from the carriage, Madame de Villefort, and her unconscious son, Edouard, into the house. He revives the child with a drop of red elixir. The count tells Madame de Villefort about buying the horses and returning them to Baroness Danglars. The story of the rescue makes the rounds of Paris society, increasing interest in the Count of Monte Cristo.

Chapter 48

Monsieur de Villefort, who generally holds himself above mixing in society, visits the count and thanks him for rescuing his wife and son from the runaway horses. They discuss the law and philosophies of justice. The count says he isn't confined by nationality, customs, language, or government. His only enemies are distance, time, and mortality; only these can keep him from achieving his goal. Villefort points out that although the count may be above other men, God is above him. The count replies that he knows he owes everything he is to God: he says he feels that God has made him an agent of Providence. Villefort tells Monte Cristo that his father, Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort, as a passionate Jacobin of the French Revolution, believed he was an instrument of fate. Noirtier, for all his passion, hopes, and plans, has been paralyzed by a stroke. Villefort concludes that his father's affliction was God's punishment for the sins that Noirtier committed in the name of "divine rather than human justice." Monte Cristo restrains himself from responding to this statement, and the judge leaves after expressing his respect for the count.

Analysis

In Chapter 46, the count sets the scene for his next moves. His reason for purchasing Baron Danglars's horses become apparent in Chapter 47, when he gains the admiration and gratitude of Baroness Danglars—for the return of her horses and the gift of diamonds; and Madame and Monsieur de Villefort—for the rescue of their son Edouard. He has deftly ingratiated himself with those who are his targets. Although the count has just arrived in Paris, he has almost instantly acquired something of a heroic status in Parisian society. It isn't clear how the count knew that the horses would be out of control when the carriage passed his house, but the count seems to have an almost magical ability to control details like this. The reader cannot shake the suspicion that he had a confederate cause the panic so that he could take advantage of it.

In Chapter 48, Monte Cristo expounds on his ideas about justice, stating that he believes he is an agent of Providence. He seems to see himself as almost superhuman.

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