The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

by

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Dantes and Mercedes prepare for the feast of their betrothal. They walk to a banquet hall in a group that includes Morrel, the owner of the Pharaon, Fernand (whom Mercedes now refers to as her “brother,” to his chagrin), Danglars, and Caderousse. The narrator notes that Caderousse only dimly remembers what happened the previous night at the tavern, but Danglars and Fernand, each in his way, seem to be brooding over a malevolent idea. Dantes, for his part, seems to be in a good mood, but calm and not outwardly merry. When Danglars asks why Dantes isn’t more boisterous, Dantes replies that he worries a man isn’t meant to be so happy all at once—to receive a job of his dreams and to become engaged to the person of his dreams within a few hours.
Dantes’s anxiety, which he expresses to Danglars, is an instance of two literary features: foreshadowing and dramatic irony. Dantes foreshadows what will soon happen to him, as indeed his happiness will not last long, and soon he will be imprisoned in the Chateau D’If for fourteen years. The exchange with Danglars is also an example of dramatic irony, because both Danglars and the reader know that a plot has been hatched against Dantes, but Dantes himself is unaware of this plot, even as he senses vaguely that he might be “too happy” for his own good.
Themes
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Love, Devotion, and Redemption Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
Caderousse tells Danglars, in an aside, that it’s a “good thing” they didn’t “trick” Dantes as they were drunkenly planning yesterday. Danglars pretends that he did nothing to further the scheme, and Fernand, quiet and on the other side of the couple, looks merely unnerved and afraid. Dantes reveals that the “betrothal” feast is essentially a feast in anticipation of their wedding, as he and Mercedes are to marry later that day. This upsets Danglars, who appears to worry whether his and Fernand’s plan might not work in so short a space. But the betrothal feast is interrupted by a knock on the door—it’s the police.
Although Danglars has gone to great pains to ensure that Dantes will be arrested, his plot is nearly foiled here, when Dantes announces that soon they will be a married couple, and Dantes will be leaving Marseille for a period of time. This builds tension as Dantes nearly escapes his doom, but of course fate is on Danglars’ and not Dantes’ side in this instance, and the police arrive soon enough to aid Danglars and thwart any possibility of Dantes’ escaping arrest.
Themes
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Love, Devotion, and Redemption Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
The police arrest Dantes, though they do not say for what crime. Caderousse turns to Danglars and, in an aside, wonders if the “trick” has been played after all. Danglars said that he ripped up the indicting letter, but Caderousse corrects him, saying that, despite his drunkenness, he saw that Danglars merely crumpled it and left it near Fernand. Although Danglars tries to speak to Dantes’ father and Mercedes, saying it must be a small item with the customs bureau that’s causing this trouble, Old Dantes and Mercedes are terrified. Morrel returns from the police station hours later to report that Dantes has been accused of being a Bonapartist sympathizer.
Danglars is not content to put Dantes away – he wants also to pretend that he had nothing to do with the plot, and that, indeed, the plot is so confusing and perplexing that it must surely be some kind of mistake. Although Danglars’ actions seem obvious to the reader – since the reader is aware of the plot – they are convincing enough to the rest of the crowd assembled that Danglars is not believed to have been involved in Dantes’ arrest in any way.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
At this, Caderousse accuses Danglars, again in an aside, of playing the trick after all. Danglars does not admit to it explicitly, but he does not deny that Fernand could have picked up the paper and given it to the crown prosecutor. Morrel finds Danglars later that day and asks him if he believes Dantes to be a sympathizer with Bonaparte. Danglars lies and says that he has his suspicions about Dantes, but that if Dantes is in fact innocent, the law will release him. Morrel appears worried about Dantes, and, in the interim, puts his faith in Danglars, authorizing him to be temporary captain of the Pharaon. Caderousse speaks to Danglars again after Morrel leaves and says that this is a “vile trick” that will bring them punishment in the end. But Danglars brushes this off, saying that, if Dantes is innocent, he will be set free. He scares Caderousse into remaining silent about the plot by noting that, if Dantes is in fact guilty of a conspiracy against the government, anyone defending him publically will also be implicated. Caderousse leaves, distraught, but vows to say nothing. Danglars leaves, thinking that if Caderousse can stay quiet, Danglars might become the “permanent” captain of the Pharaon. And Fernand has slipped away from the feast entirely, both scared and pleased at the turn of events.
This is one of the more powerful and frighteningly rational instances of Danglars’ intimidation and plotting. Danglars’ argument to Caderousse essentially makes it clear that, whether or not Dantes is guilty before the law, he is believed to be guilty, sand that’s all that matters. In Royalist France at the time, even the merest hint that one is a Bonapartist would be enough to make one seem politically dangerous. Danglars thus intimidates Caderousse into silence by saying that, if there’s even the slightest possibility that Dantes really is guilty, there’s nothing they should do to stand in the way of the investigation, lest they become involved as suspects themselves. It is this logic – that Dantes might somehow in fact be guilty of the crime for which they’ve framed him – that convinces Caderousse to do nothing, and to let the law have its way with Dantes. For his part, Fernand seems only concerned with the possibility that Dantes is out of the picture, and that Mercedes is therefore “free” to be found and wooed in her small home in Les Catalans.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
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