The Count of Monte Cristo | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo | Chapters 60–61 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 60

After Monsieur and Madame de Villefort leave Noirtier's room, Monte Cristo pays a visit to remind them of the upcoming dinner at his country house. When he gives them the address, Villefort realizes that it's the same house that had belonged to his first wife's parents. Madame de Villefort says her husband never wanted to live there, and the count notes that it had been abandoned for more than 20 years. He jokes that perhaps there is some dark secret or "blood-stained tale" associated with the house. They discuss the problems related to Valentine's engagement, and Villefort insists that his daughter will marry d'Epinay. The count recalls that d'Epinay's father was assassinated on his way home from a Bonapartist club he'd been invited to visit. Villefort confirms that Noirtier, a Bonapartist, did not get along with d'Epinay, a monarchist. Madame de Villefort expresses her anger that Noirtier will not consider leaving his fortune to her son because she has no wealth of her own to leave to him. Valentine, however, will inherit a large fortune from her mother's parents, Madame and Monsieur de Saint-Méran, who will soon be coming to Paris. The count encourages Villefort to stand fast regarding the marriage of his daughter. He takes his leave, explaining that he is on his way to visit a telegraph station to satisfy his curiosity about the new technology.

Chapter 61

The next morning, the count visits a distant telegraph office that is surrounded by a lush, meticulously tended flower garden. The gardener is the telegraph operator. He tells the count that he's engaged in a battle with dormice that are stealing fruit from his garden. He gives the count a tour of the telegraph office, which is also his home. The count asks some questions about his job, and he explains that the messages he transmits are coded, so he doesn't know what the messages say. Monte Cristo bribes the telegraph operator to send a message he has prepared to the ministry of the interior. As soon as the message arrives at the ministry, Debray rushes to Madame Danglars and tells her he's learned there is political trouble in Spain. He advises that her husband should sell all his Spanish government bonds. Danglars sells the bonds at a loss. But the next day, the report about Spain is determined to be false due to a misread telegraph signal. Spanish stocks double in value, and Danglars loses a million francs.

Analysis

Monte Cristo's use of the false telegraph report to cause Danglars's financial losses is similar to Albert's joking idea in Chapter 54 that Debray could teach Madame Danglars a lesson by passing on false information that would cause her to lose money. This may have given Monte Cristo the idea to use the telegraph—because the only thing Danglars cares about is his wealth, bringing him to financial ruin would be a suitable revenge for Monte Cristo.

Bribing the telegraph operator is an example of Monte Cristo's cynical disregard for collateral damage in the pursuit of vengeance. He badgers the telegraph operator, a man who was perfectly content with his life, into taking a bribe that equaled 15 years of his salary. The man will be rich, but his life will be completely disrupted: he'll lose his job, his home, and the garden he'd tended so lovingly and for so long.

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