The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

by

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dantes mourns his friend and worries that he will succumb to suicide, as he almost did before hearing Faria digging away at the cell wall, now many years in the past. Dantes recovers himself, however, and says that he has not suffered so much—and learned so much from Faria—only to take his own life. All at once, after pacing around Faria’s cell several times, Dantes recalls what he’d long ago heard Faria say—that the only escapes possible in prison are those in which an inmate seizes upon a rare opportunity. This is that opportunity, and Dantes snaps into action, not wanting to squander it. He cuts Faria’s body out of the cloth and drags it into his own cell, into his own bed, where he makes it look, as much as he can, like his own. Then he returns to the Abbe’s cell and, stripping naked, puts himself inside the sack used for burial. He sews himself in it from the inside.
Dantes realizes, as the Abbe has warned him previously, that all things in life require a certain amount of luck. The pair experienced bad luck in watching their escape-shaft filled in by the guards, but here Dantes experiences good luck, realizing that, for once, something will be leaving the prison – in this case, the presumed body of the Abbe. Dantes wastes little time in making his decision, demonstrating that he’s also learned to act on an advantage once he finds it. This kind of decision-making – the bending of change to one’s own ends – will serve Dantes well as he begins his journey of revenge.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Dantes plans either to kills the guards (with a knife he’s brought with him in the sack) on his way out of the cell, or to escape during the digging of the grave, as the wardens throw the soft earth atop his body. He hears, at seven o’clock, an official take his food into the other cell. No one notices the switch, and Dantes is relieved. Although he can feel his heart beating  loudly in the sack, he wonders if it is audible to the wardens.
Dantes is not entirely knowledgeable of what will happen to him. Indeed, he believes that the Abbe really will be buried. But as Dantes is soon to find out, prisoners of the Chateau D’If are not treated so politely by the guards – and Dantes must make another quick decision from inside the Abbe’s shroud.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon
The two gravediggers come in and carry Dantes out of the Abbe’s cell in the shroud. Dantes wonders where they are headed, and he feels the night air of the outside world for the first time in years. They put him on the ground and tie a heavy weight to his feet. Then, before Dantes has time to realize what is happening, he feels his body being thrown over the wall of the Chateau D’If into the sea. He understands, in an instant, that no one is “buried” on the island—all prisoners, when they die, are simply tossed in the heaving waters of the Mediterranean.
This is one of the most exciting and jarring sequences in the novel. Dantes must rely on the skills he has acquired not just as the Abbe’s student, but as a sailor working under Morrel. He knows only when it is too late that he will not be buried at all, and he must simply be patient enough, and hopeful enough, to escape from the shroud immediately after it strikes the water – and to shake himself free of the weight that has been tied to him.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon