The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

by

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dantes climbs up to his father’s cramped, dilapidated apartment, to find him there tending to his flowers. His father is shocked and overjoyed to see him, and even more shocked when Dantes announces that Leclere has died during the voyage, that Dantes is to made captain in Leclere’s stead, and that his salary will be 100 louis a year with a “share of the ship’s profits.” His father is overwhelmed by this additional news and seems weak. Dantes offers to bring him wine to calm his nerves, but his father says there is no wine—that there is nothing in the house. Though Dantes left him with 200 francs before his three-month voyage, Dantes’ father paid a debt to a neighbor named Caderousse, which Dantes had owed. This debt was 140 francs, and so, to Dantes’ terrible chagrin, he realizes his father has lived on mere scraps for months, barely eating enough to survive.
Dantes’s father is perhaps the novel’s most unselfish character. Indeed, his concern for his son is so overwhelming, he can barely survive without him. This scene, in which Old Dantes nearly forgoes all food in order to pay his son’s debt, foreshadows later scenes—when, after Dantes’s imprisonment, his father foregoes food altogether. And this, in turn, foreshadows Dantes’s own behavior in prison—before he meets the Abbe Faria, Dantes very nearly commits suicide by refusing all food, out of despair at his current conditions of imprisonment and loneliness. This kind of extreme behavior clearly runs in the family.
Themes
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Love, Devotion, and Redemption Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
At this, Caderousse enters the small apartment and pretends to be kind to Dantes’ father and Dantes, as though his lending of money to them was a great favor. In fact, Caderousse seems to understand that, by forcing Dantes’ father to repay Dantes’ loan during Dantes’ trip, he has left the old man in serious financial straits. Caderousse also appears to know already that Dantes will be made captain of the Pharaon, and he hints to both them, too, that Mercedes might be falling in love with an unnamed man who lives in her neighborhood. Caderousse also mentions that Dantes has skipped dinner with Morrel to see his father.
Caderousse’s jealousy is similar to Danglars’, in that it is revealed very early in the novel. What is perhaps stranger about Caderousse’s variety, however, is the fact that the tailor has very little directly to gain, at least at this stage, from Dantes’ downfall, whereas Danglars feels he might be able to wrangle the position of captain of the Pharaon for himself if Dantes is put out of the picture. It seems that Caderousse is simply embittered by Dantes’ youth, happiness, intelligence, and seeming good fortune.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Love, Devotion, and Redemption Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As an uneasy Dantes leaves to find Mercedes, Caderousse leaves Dantes’ father and heads downstairs where Danglars has been waiting. It is revealed that the two are united in their hatred for Dantes: both are jealous of his rapid rise to captain, which would be a higher social rank than Caderousse’s (he is a tailor) and Danglars’, as supercargo. The two men vow to follow Dantes to Les Catalans, the Catalan neighborhood of Marseille, to see how his conversation with Mercedes goes and determine whether she has a secret Spanish lover.
In another instance of foreshadowing, Dantes worries that Mercedes might very well be in love with Fernand, her cousin and his rival for her affections. In the ensuing chapters Dantes is soon convinced that Mercedes loves only him, and considers Fernand a friend—until the betrayal of Dantes makes all his fears a reality.
Themes
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Love, Devotion, and Redemption Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon