The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

by

Alexandre Dumas

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The Count of Monte Cristo: Chapter 78 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The chapter opens with Fernand de Morcerf meeting Danglars at the latter’s home. Morcerf is there, finally, to confirm what the two men have discussed between themselves for eight years: that Albert is to marry Eugenie. But Morcerf is shocked to find out from Danglars that the banker is asking for a pause on the betrothal; it seems that Danglars wishes to marry Eugenie to another man. Morcerf is flabbergasted by Danglars’ claim and wonders if it has something to do with his daughter (the narrator notes that Morcerf does not consider it might have something to do with him). Morcerf agrees to a deferral of the engagement until Danglars is allowed time to think matters through.
Up until this point, Morcerf and Danglars have had an uneasy truce in Parisian society. It is hard to imagine that, many years ago, both these men were involved in a plot against Dantes, back when Danglars was just a ship’s manager and Fernand a mere fisherman. Now, both men have their own reputations in Parisian society to protect. Like the Count, they have come very far from their humble origins—but both men realize that their individual reputations are at stake in a potential marriage between their kin, and Danglars wants to be sure he guarantees what he perceives to be a high position in society for his daughter.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon
In parallel, Albert finds the Count at a shooting range and asks him to be his second for a duel with Beauchamp, his former friend and a newspaper editor. The Count asks what is the matter, and Albert shows the Count a blind item from a recent edition saying that an officer named Fernand betrayed the Ali Pasha to the Turks, thus ensuring that the Greeks would lose decisively in their battle for independence. Albert declares that this item refers to his father, that it cannot be true, and that he therefore needs the Count to support him in dueling Beauchamp. The Count, however, advises caution, and says that Albert should first meet with Beauchamp and see if there is any truth to the accusation.
Albert has uncovered a piece of important information regarding his father. Albert believes it is his duty, out of an abundance of devotion to his father, to fight a duel on Fernand’s behalf. But the Count demonstrates a shade of complexity in his plot – for he realizes that he does not want Albert to fight a duel under false pretenses. In other words, the Count doesn’t want Albert to die defending the honor of a man whom the Count really does want to suffer. This is a wrinkle in the revenge plot, which the Count may or may not have intuited from the beginning, but which he attempts now to influence.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon
At the newspaper office, Albert finds Beauchamp and aggressively asks that he retract the item, which Beauchamp himself didn’t write. The journalist asks for three weeks to check the facts: if the item is correct, Beauchamp will stand by the story and duel with Albert; and if it is incorrect, he will apologize to Albert and issue a full retraction. Albert leaves impatiently, and spots Maximilien on the street, walking very happily along.
Beauchamp is pulled in two directions, by divided loyalties. On the one hand, as a newspaper editor he believes he must be devoted to the truth at all costs, even if that truth puts a friend in a difficult position. On the other, Beauchamp is a good friend to Albert, and both men wish to preserve their social standing.
Themes
Justice, Revenge, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Changes of Identity and Station Theme Icon
Debt and Gratitude Theme Icon
The Domestic and the Foreign Theme Icon