Literature: The Count of Monte Cristo
Serialised adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas
Sr., published in the Journal des Debats
from August 1844 to January 1846, based loosely on an allegedly true story which Dumas discovered in a collection of police reports.
Edmond Dantes is a naive, entirely benign young sailor who has just been made captain of his ship, and is newly engaged to the beautiful Mercedes. Just as his life seems like it couldn't get any better, Fernand (Mercedes's cousin and Dantes's rival for her affections) and Danglars (Dantes' co-worker, who is jealous of the former's rise to captain) decide to frame Dantes by sending an anonymous letter fingering him as a Napoleonic spy. Dantes is arrested and brought to crown prosecutor Villefort who is initially sympathetic to Dantes until he finds a letter in Dantes' possession that would expose Villefort's father as a leader in a Bonapartist conspiracy to restore Napoleon's rule, prompting Villefort to sentence Dantes to life imprisonment in the Chateau d'If
During his years in prison, Edmond meets Abbe Faria
, a fellow prisoner who becomes his close friend. Faria educates him in a variety of subjects, helps piece together the truth about the role of Fernand, Danglars, and Villefort in his imprisonment, and before dying, tells of a treasure of unthinkable magnitude buried on the island of Monte Cristo. Edmond manages to escape, and finds the treasure.
He returns to France as the mysterious, brooding
, immensely wealthy and highly cultivated
Count of Monte Cristo. He discovers that Fernand, Danglars and Villefort have all become very rich and powerful, and sets about using their own evil pasts and tainted passions
to enact an elaborate and cruel revenge
on all of them. A complication is that their children are, by and large, genuinely good people who the Count quickly numbers among his friends.
Often regarded as the greatest revenge story of all time, this novel remains a popular classic. Numerous films and television series have been based on it, including the anime Gankutsuou
!) and an episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo
. It also inspired Alfred Bester's classic SF novel The Stars My Destination
(also in space
!) and Stephen Fry
's The Stars' Tennis Balls
(aka Revenge: A Novel
) which has a lot of fun with Significant Anagrams
. The TV show Revenge
is basically The Count of Monte Cristo in the Hamptons
. A literary mash-up came out in 2014 called The Vampire Count Of Monte Cristo
which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
The novel is in the public domain in the United States and is available online for free at Project Gutenberg
, and so on.
This story features examples of:
- Accidentally Accurate: In-Universe. At Benedetto's trial, Those Twoguys see a veiled woman in the audience and wonder who she might be, one guessing she's his mother.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: Monsieur Noirtier survives a murder attempt using brucine (a variant of strychnine) because he has been taking a medicine that contains the same compound, and has built up a resistance to it. Realizing that his granddaughter and heir Valentine is also a target, he starts giving her small doses of his medicine; this saves her life when the poisoner has a go at her.
- Affably Evil: Luigi Vampa, who is perfectly polite to his prisoners in the one evening they have for their ransoms to arrive. The Count also cultivates this image toward Albert and Franz. Benedetto is remarkably likable and charming for someone who has committed nearly every crime on the books before the age of 30.
- The Alcatraz: The Chateau d'If.
- And I Must Scream: Between Dantes's arrest and his return as the Count, Noirtier suffers a stroke that renders him incapable of moving anything other than his eyelids. He and his granddaughter-caretaker do manage to develop a suitable means of communication.
- Anonymous Benefactor: The Count serves as this to the Morrel Family.
- Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Dantes has unlimited credit with Danglars's bank, and keeps withdrawing enormous amounts of money at the worst possible times (for Danglars).
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Three of the four individuals responsible for Edmond's imprisonment become members of the nobility, and the most noble characters in the book, the Morrel family, are the only ones without some title. And of course, while Edmond Dantes was a nice happy-go-lucky guy, the Count of Monte Cristo is a sinister and vengeful man.
- Arranged Marriage: Eugenie Danglars with Albert de Morcerf (later, with Andrea Cavalcanti), and Valentine de Villefort with Franz d'Epinay.
- At the Opera Tonight: Several key scenes take place in opera houses, including Albert's first encounter with the Count.
- Badass Adorable: Haydee has shades of this. Especially evident when she enters the courtroom to denounce Fernand.
- Badass Beard:
- The Count has a thick, black goatee. In his Abbe Busoni disguise, he wears a longer, shaggier, fake beard.
- Ali Tepelini really takes the cake, though: he has a long, white beard which reaches his waist.
- Badass Boast: The Count, after being challenged to a duel: "In France people fight with the sword or pistol, in the colonies with the carbine, in Arabia with the dagger. Tell your client that, although I am the insulted party, in order to carry out my eccentricity, I leave him the choice of arms, and will accept without discussion, without dispute, anything, even combat by drawing lots, which is always stupid, but with me different from other people, as I am sure to gain."
- Badass Grandpa / Handicapped Badass: Nortier, who is completely paralyzed from the eyes down, yet still manages to protect his granddaughter from unwanted fiancés and assassination attempts. As Villefort puts it, an "indestructible old man".
- Badass Moustache: It's 19th century France, after all - assume any character over the age of twenty has one. The Count, of course, has the badassest.
- Badass Preacher: Dantes in his Busoni disguise, effortlessly disarms a would-be thief.
- Bandit Clan: Italy is more or less presented as entirely comprised of these, but in particular, the Count's valet, Bertuccio, is a former bandit, and comes from a family of bandits.
- Being Good Sucks: The innocent and good-hearted Edmond is betrayed and condemned to 14 years in jail by Danglars, Villefort and Fernand, who all prosper as a result. Though they do eventually get their comeuppance, it only happens after Edmond himself Took a Level in Badass.
- Best Served Cold: Fourteen years in prison before he escapes, and another nine years before he sets his plans for revenge in motion. Served cold indeed.
- Bewildering Punishment: He's not told why he was arrested.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Count gets his revenge on those who wronged him, but everything of his old life that he valued is still lost to him. Even the victorious revenge loses its sweetness in the end, because it has hurt innocent parties too. The Count is particularly shocked by the death of 9-year-old Edouard de Villefort, and reflects that he has now "exceeded the limits of vengeance".
- Black and Gray Morality or Evil Versus Evil
- Blue Blood: Several characters are aristocrats, but quite a few only recently so. Valentine's grandmother, the marquise de Saint-Meran, would likely have opposed her marriage to a commoner like Maximilian.
- Bodybag Trick: Used in the prison escape.
- Brain Fever: Captain LeClere, in the beginning of the novel.
- British Teeth: Exploited by the Count for his Lord Wilmore disguise, which includes false teeth.
- Byronic Hero: The Count, a man so obsessed by revenge that no means of ensuring his enemies' destruction is too heinous for him to consider. It's superficially lampshaded early on when someone remarks that he looks an awful lot like the incarnation of Lord Ruthven, a fictional character based on Lord Byron himself.
- Character Filibuster: Abbe Faria has one when he tells the lengthy story of how he came upon the treasure. There's another one for Luigi Vampa's Backstory. Basically, pretty much any time a character goes into Backstory, it's time to get comfortable and forget about the main story for a while. Fortunately, unlike a lot of Character Filibuster moments, the ones in this book are always key to the plot.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Haydee appears to be a subverted Morality Pet for the Count at first, before she provides a crucial testimony against Fernand at the trial regarding his involvement in the Ali Pacha affair.
- The Chessmaster: The Count is this in spades. He plans and prepares for almost everything. It takes a lot to throw him off, and, when it happens, he just uses it to further his end goal.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Morcerf betrayed the Spanish for the French during the Spanish expedition, the French for the English at Waterloo, and sold out Ali Pacha (who he was working as an instructor for).
- Colonel Badass: Maximilien Morrel.
- Convicted by Public Opinion: How Morcerf and Villefort are taken down. The former shoots himself, the latter goes mad.
- Daddy's Girl: Good men have good relationships with their daughters. Haydee loved her father and remains devoted to his memory, and M. Morrel is loved by his daughter Julie. On the other hand, Eugenie Danglars and her father couldn't care less about each other, and Villefort ignores Valentine (though Valentine is very close to her grandfather, a better man than his son).
- Cunning Linguist: The Count rather matter-of-factly establishes that he is master of many languages.
I adopt all customs, speak all languages. You believe me to be a Frenchman, for I speak French with the same facility and purity as yourself. Well, Ali, my Nubian, believes me to be an Arab; Bertuccio, my steward, takes me for a Roman; Haidee, my slave, thinks me a Greek...
- Denied Food as Punishment: What Edmond finally does to Danglars once he captures him.
- Dispense With The Pleasantries: This is a typical trait of Baron Danglars's conversations; he's a very strict man with little tolerance for small talk.
- Doorstopper: Most copies exceed 1000 pages, varies with translation.
- Dramatic Irony: The plot runs on it. The characters never know what the other characters are up to.
- When Edmond is imprisoned, he and Morrel are oblivious to the treachery of Villefort, and trust his advice as though he were a good friend.
- None of Edmond's friends realize that Danglars and Fernand were responsible for his arrest.
- When Edmond is in disguise, none of his old friends or enemies knows his true identity. Except for Mercedes, who pegged it was him when she first heard his voice, at least when he was Monte Cristo..
- Benedetto manages to make a name for himself in French society under a false identity, but nobody except the Count and one of his servants knows that he's actually the illegitimate son of Gérard de Villefort and Hermine Danglars.
- Even the Count, the Manipulative Bastard himself, doesn't realize that Maximilian and Valentine are romantically involved until the last minute; as far as he's concerned, Valentine is the daughter of his hated enemy.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Runs in the Morrel family. Prevented by the Count in both cases.
- Madame de Villefort, after strong encouragement from her husband.
- Duel to the Death:
- Between Albert and the Count. Averted at the last minute—Mercedes intervenes with both and stops the duel by getting Dantes to promise to spare her son, and by explaining to Albert why the Count wants to take down Morcerf.
- Averted by Morcerf, who brings a pair of swords to demand and explanation from the Count, only for him to deliver a "Reason You Suck" Speech that sends the general reeling back home.
- Noirtier reveals that he killed Franz's father in a duel to the death, the official reason he's opposed to the marriage.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: A major theme is that you cannot know true happiness unless you have suffered deeply first. Anyone who manages to get a happy ending in this book, earned it.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Count. Years in prison will do that to you. Part of why everyone thinks he's a vampire.
- Every Man Has His Price: Bribery is standard procedure for our fabulously wealthy protagonist.
- Everything's Better On Hashish: According to the eponymous Count, who delivers a flowery speech to Franz extolling its virtues with much hyperbole. Among the things that are Better On Hashish is, apparently, suicide, or so he convinces a depressed Maximilien Morrel towards the end of the book.
- Evil Counterpart: Benedetto to the Count. Both are portrayed in-story as vessels for divine retribution, both are mysterious aristos with fake names and shady pasts only a select few know, both were at one point convicts - hell, Benedetto's even convinced that the Count is his father! The crucial difference is that the Count has at least some empathy, self-awareness, and remorse, and while he was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Benedetto escaped justice for crimes he was certainly guilty of.
- Fatal Flaw: Greed for Caderousse, explicitly spelled out by the Count. When poor, he was given a diamond by the Count, but murdered the jeweler who'd brought the money to buy it. Then he could have blackmailed Andrea for enough money to live quietly every month, but demanded more. And when Andrea told him about the rich aristocrat that seemed to have taken an interest in him, he goes and tries to burgle the place.
- Foreshadowing: Pay attention to what the Count says to people as he's usually talking about something that will happen much later in the novel.
- Four-Star Badass:
- Exploited by Fernand, when he comes to challenge the Count to a duel in full general's garb. Subverted, since he himself is far from badass, and Edmond Dantes knows exactly who he is.
- Played straight with Ali Pasha.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: At the very beginning, Danglars is the ship's accountant, and Fernand a fisherman. Both opportunistically rise in society, until they're both aristocrats, one a banker and the other a general.
- Fiction 500: The Count's ludicrous wealth earns him a spot on this privileged list — he owns so much money that the same amount not adjusted for inflationnote would still make you very rich today.
- Gambit Roulette: One must imagine how long Dantes had to plan out his revenge, but the final plot is unspeakably convoluted. That he is able to make any of it work speaks volumes about his control.
- Gratuitous Italian: While in Italy Danglars uses what little he knows of musical and operatic terms to communicate.
- Great Escape: Dantes escapes by hiding in the bodybag of his late mentor, which is thrown into the sea.
- Happiness in Slavery: Ali and Haydee, since the Count saved both their lives and treats them exceptionally well. So much that when he offers Haydee her freedom, more than once, she adamantly refuses.
- Hellhole Prison: The Chateau d'If.
- Homoerotic Subtext. The lesbian relationship between Eugenie Danglars and Louise d'Armilly is never stated overtly, but it's very strongly implied:
- It begins subtly, by comparing her beauty to that of Diana—who was virginal, preferring female company to male company. Diana also had at least one follower, Callisto, who was apparently in love with her, since Jupiter seduced her in Diana's form.
- She is incredibly quick to admire the beauty of other women, while attesting no opinion of the good-looks of any male characters.
- Then the narrator describes the glances of Eugenie's admirer as being deflected off "Minerva's shield," which "once protected Sappho." Sappho, of Lesbos.
- They are found sitting on the same chair in front of the piano, making duets out of solos by each playing one hand of the song.
- When they're planning to run away together after Eugenie's engagement ends in disaster, they are extremely affectionate and flirty, calling each other "my sweet" and comparing themselves to classical lovers such as Hercules and Queen Omphale (who liked to switch clothes with Hercules for fun).
- Finally, in case you still had your head in the sand: In one scene, an unexpected visitor drops into a hotel room they're staying in (two paragraphs after the text makes a point of telling the reader that the room has two beds) and finds them sleeping together in the same bed. Yeah...
- Hope Spot: There is a moment where, according to the narrator, Villefort is on the cusp of setting Edmond free, if only someone should burst through the door and confront him. The moment passes.
- Humiliation Conga:
- Albert's ability to accept all sorts of humiliations with relative dignity—from being seduced by a servant-boy (whom he thinks is a woman until he gets a knife pointed at his face), to being forced to call off a duel with the Count, to giving his up his wealth and name after he finds out what kind of man his father is—is ultimately his most redeeming quality, and what truly distinguishes him from his father.
- Danglars gets one too. Having been the instigator of the plot that sent the Count to prison, he is subsequently bankrupted, divorced, abandoned by his daughter, and kidnapped and imprisoned by Luigi Vampa and his bandits when he flees to Italy with the money he embezzled. Danglars is initially left without food, and when he demands to be fed the bandits charge him outrageous prices for his meals. Forced to choose between his money and his life, Danglars is starved out of the millions of francs he still has with him, until only 50,000 remain. It then turns out that the Count had ordered Vampa and his bandits to kidnap Danglars and imprison him, putting Danglars in the very same situation that he placed the Count in. The money the bandits charge Danglars for his meal is returned to the hospitals he embezzled it from, as Danglars learns a horrible lesson in greed. He pleads for mercy and forgiveness, and the Count ultimately grants it to him, letting him go with the last 50,000 francs — the only money he was carrying that he had earned more or less honestly. Oh, and the situation turns his hair white.
- Hypocrite: Villefort seems to be something of a hanging judge and obsessed with the family honor, but commits several heinous crimes.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Both Albert and the Count have such great aim that they can shoot at playing cards with pinpoint precision. The Count makes an entire deck out of blank cards.
- Infant Immortality:
- Benedetto, who was thought dead by his parents.
- Averted with Edouard, who is poisoned by his mother just before her suicide.
- Kangaroo Court: Dantes has just been framed for treasonous activities and goes before Villefort the Crown Prosecutor (a judge) in his chambers. Villefort is touched by Dantes's integrity and about to let him go, when he sees that a letter which was part of the evidence against Dantes, implicates his own father in treason and would ruin his career. At this point of course, the Kangaroo Court element kicks in as Villefort applies powers actually given to him under the law to have Dantes imprisoned indefinitely without a trial.
- Karma Houdini:
- Downplayed with Danglars. As the instigator of Dantes' downfall, he was going to starve to death as Dantes' father had, but the Count had a My God, What Have I Done? moment after the Villefort mess and let him off after a few days, reputation and fortune both ruined but alive.
- Benedetto's fate after his trial is unknown.
- Karmic Jackpot: Most of the novel is about revenge, but the Count also repays the effort of those who tried to help him. Monsieur Morrel, Edmond Dantes's employer at the time of his arrest, tried to get Dantes released despite the dangerous political risks he was taking. By the time Dantes escapes, Morrel's shipping company is on the verge of bankruptcy and his family honor is ruined. The Count rewards Morrel's efforts to save him by paying off his debts, buying him a new merchant ship, and providing a dowry for his daughter.
- Kids Are Cruel: Edouard de Villefort is a little shit, but even he didn't deserve to be poisoned by his own mother.
- Lady Macbeth: Caderousse's wife, La Carconte, pressures him into murdering a jeweller who poses only the slightest threat to them. They succeed in the murder, but La Carconte gets a bullet in the throat.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After being robbed of his beautiful fiancée and a promising job and spending 14 years in prison, Dantes gets filthy rich and becomes acquainted with an even more beautiful woman. Dantes himself tries to enforce this trope during his time as the Count of Monte Cristo, and arguably succeeds, but with a fair bit of collateral damage.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Made a Slave: Haydée, though she was treated considerably better than most.
- Mama Bear: Mme de Villefort shows how this can go wrong by killing off three people in order to secure her son's inheritance.
- Master of Disguise: The Count. (Although Mercedes recognizes him immediately.)
- Master Poisoner: Madame de Villefort, aided by advice from Monte Cristo.
- May-December Romance: The Count and Haydee at the end of the book, which serves as a route to peace and redemption for him.
- Men Are Uncultured: Danglars. He even uses it as a selling point, as it proves he's a man of the People (while making sure everyone knows he's a baron).
- Mercy Kill: In the sidestory about the Italian bandits, one bandit does this to his lover to prevent her being gang raped by the rest of his band.
- Miscarriage of Justice: To the tune of fourteen years of false imprisonment. (And imprisonment in those days was arguably a Fate Worse Than Death.)
- Morality Pet: Haydee serves as an outlet for the otherwise cold and distant Count to show genuine affection.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: Danglars.
- Mushroom Samba: There is a scene (bowdlerized in many translations) in which Franz has an erotic dream while high on hashish.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Subverted by Villefort, who has his moment at the very beginning of the book. He initially feels a terrible remorse at sending the innocent Dantes to prison, but later represses it and goes through with the deed. It's implied, however, that the guilt he feels does not go away so easily. In fact, it is implied that Villefort became a hanging judge that he is because of the repressed guilt.
- Caderousse is horrified at the realization that Danglers has actually carried out the scheme he claimed to only be joking about, and almost blows the whole thing right at the start until Danglers convinces him any apparent connection to the plot would be very bad for him. Later, he becomes just as bad as the others.
- Played straight by the Count himself, when confronted by Maxmilien about Valentine's peril; it is only then that he starts realizing what he has become in the pursuit of vengeance. There's also the moment he realizes a young boy is dead thanks to his machinations.
- Nested Story: Signor Pastrini briefly interrupts his story about the bandit lord Luigi Vampa to tell another story about another bandit lord who preceded Vampa.
- No Endor Holocaust: the false message that caused Danglars to lose a large chunk of his fortune very likely ruined other investors, but we only hear about Danglars'.
- No Honor Among Thieves: Caderousse has no problem with blackmailing Benedetto, just as Benedetto has no problem anonymously warning the Count about Caderousse's burglary attempt.
- Obviously Evil: Mme Villefort is repeatedly shown to be stalling for time or generally being unhelpful. Baron Danglars is also very much this trope, having absolutely no remorse about sending Dantes to fourteen years of prison for his own ambition, and having no regrets at all losing both his daughter and his wife, then running away, simply to save his money.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Albert mentions that when his mother Mercedes has feelings for someone, it's for life.
- Paid-For Family: Dantes creates the Cavalcanti line from whole cloth, providing the ruined major Cavalcanti with a fortune to act as the father of Benedetto, so as to let him move into society and from there, ruin Villefort. Benedetto is Villefort's illegitimate child, who was thought dead by both parents. He also uses him to humiliate Morcerf and Danglars: Danglars, being informed of Cavalcanti's considerable wealth, breaks off Eugenie's engagement to Albert (using the pretext of the Janina scandal). Then Andrea is revealed to be Benedetto at their contract signing, and Eugenie runs away with her girlfriend...
- Pet the Dog: Just before he becomes the Count, Edmond uses his vast riches to save Mr. Morrel from bankruptcy anonymously, helping the one person who always believed in him.
- Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Dantes includes the innocent children of his enemies in his plan for revenge. Most of them survive, and some of them end up better off, but that's more through luck than from any sentiment on the Count's part.
- Poor Communication Kills: A lot of drama could have been avoided had Maximilian told the Count who he was head over heels in love with, since the Count was actively pushing for her murder by proxy at the time to get at her father.
- Proper Lady: Valentine and Haydee.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Somehow, languishing in a small cell for years makes Eduard unusually strong. The narrative states that the rough conditions gave him strength.
- Proto-Superhero: Arguably, although perhaps more of a supervillain than hero at times.
- Public Execution: A public execution during a Roman festival allows the Count to test Franz's character.
- Red Herring: d'Avrigny believes that Valentine is the poisoner. It's actually Madame de Villefort...Valentine's stepmom.
- Relative Error: Mercedes is mistaken for her son's mistress. The fact that Albert just can't shut up about how perfect his mother is really doesn't help matters. The Count probably made that mistake on purpose — he didn't want to reveal to Albert that he knew Mercedes.
- Remove The Rival: What Mondego did to Dantes and kick start the plot.
- Revenge: Forms the motivation and the plot for this novel once Dantes gets out of prison.
- Secret Identity: Dantes uses the titular Count persona to mask his true identity. He has other identities as well, such as a British nobleman, Lord Wilmore, and an Italian abbot, Abbe Busoni. He even builds a network of relationships between his alter egos, which he uses to throw off suspicions: Wilmore and Monte Cristo are supposed to be bitter enemies, while Busoni is a friend of both and is greatly perplexed by their rivalry. Then there is Sindbad The Sailor, and presumably many others.
- Secret Test of Character:
- After getting caught up on what's been going on with his enemies while he was in prison (see Mr. Exposition above), the Count rewards Caderousse by giving him a valuable diamond. Caderousse can either use the diamond to rebuild his life and become an honest man, or fall victim to greed and let the diamond ultimately destroy him. He fails. Hard. The Count even gives him a second chance, but he blows that too. When he's caught in the Count's mansion, Caderousse asks for yet another chance, but this time the Count leaves him to his fate, getting himself literally stabbed in the back by Bennedetto.
- The Count gives one to Maximilien at the end to confirm that he is truly deserving of happiness by his standards. Max passes with flying colors by agreeing to kill himself with a drug given to him by the Count, even when offered large sums of money if he chooses to live, thus proving that he has tasted true despair.
- Separated by the Wall: Maximilien and Valentine, in a Shout-Out to Pyramus and Thisbe.
- Seriously Scruffy: Combined with Mess Of Woe when Villefort works several days nonstop to keep his mind off the death of his in-laws and his daughter, looking dishevelled and unshaven (though he shapes up in time for the trial).
- Shipper on Deck: When the Count is writing up his will before the duel, he hopes that Morrel will marry Haydée, before learning Morrel already has his sights on someone.
- Sins of Our Fathers: The Count plans to kill Albert as part of his revenge on Fernand, and has no plans to stop Mme de Villefort from poisoning Valentine until he learns Morrel loves her.
- Sliding Scale of Beauty: Several female characters are said to be beautiful. Haydee is the most beautiful in the story, her and her mother Vasiliki are somewhere between World Class and Divine Level. Closely following are Mercedes and Valentine as Common Beauties. Eugenie is considered an Uncanny Valley Girl because of her masculinity.
- Soft Water: During his prison escape, Dantes hides in a bodybag that is thrown into the sea from a high cliff. This is done at least somewhat realistically, though, as the impact knocks Dantes out, and he survives only because of coming to his senses in the last possible moment, and being in good enough shape to escape the bodybag and swim to shore. Barely.
- Spanner in the Works:
- The Count almost runs into one when he wants to bribe a semaphore operator to send false information. The semaphore operator is honest and unambitious, and it seems at first that there's no bribe he'll be interested in.
- Later, his plan to deal with the Villeforts is seriously compromised by the fact that Morrel is in love with Valentine, Villefort's daughter.
- Spell My Name with a Blank: Countess G_____. A subversion, as she's based off of Lord Byron's mistress: Teresa, Countess Guiccioli.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Maximillien Morrel and Valentine de Villefort, at first.
- Strawman Political: All of the good characters are or were supporters of Napoleon, and nearly all of the bad ones are royalists. Dumas' father was a famous soldier in Napoleon's army.
- Surprise Incest: Narrowly avoided Eugenie and Andrea/Benedetto are half siblings, sharing the same mother.
- Sword Cane: Noirtier carried one before he was paralyzed.
- Taking the Veil: Mercedes opts for this in the end.
- Those Two Guys: Morrel, Albert, Franz, Debray, Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud all end up in this role at one time or another with one of the others, with the last one having the least characterization or bearing on the plot.
- Time Skip: The period of several years between Dantes' escape from prison and his introduction into French society. We know from later narration that many things happened in it; Dantes Took a Level in Badass both physically and intellectually, he travelled to the East (and bought Haydee), gave an emerald to the Pope, saved Ali from execution, and generally became the Renaissance Man we see after the Time Skip. Yet these events, while important, would only slow down the plot if they were shown- so we get this trope.
- To a lesser degree, sometimes important events take place that happen weeks apart in two chapters.
- Translation Convention: At different times, characters may be speaking French, Italian, Greek, and so on. Occasionally the narrator informs the reader that one of the characters can't understand what another character is saying.
- Tuckerization: Dumas did this in a fairly transparent way, including his concierge in Italy as a character and including a scene where a character is praised for his collection of paintings by current artists. All of the artists mentioned were friends or acquaintances of Dumas and none are known today except for Delacroix.
- Undisclosed Funds: The amount of money Dantes finds at Monte Cristo is never stated. After many years of purchases and investments, the Count says he has about one hundred million francs at the end of the book.note
- Unholy Matrimony: Villefort realizes that he and his wife are even better suited for each other than he thought, considering their horrible crimes. "The union of the tiger and the serpent", as he calls it.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: Beppo, the bait that lured Albert into Vampa's trap.
- Uriah Gambit: The bandit lord Cucumetto pulls one in Signor Pastrini's Nested Story, shooting a treacherous underling in the back during a skirmish with some soldiers.
- Benedetto hooks Caderousse into thinking the Count keeps large amounts of money in his house, then sends a letter to warn the Count of the break-in.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: According to Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo is loosely based on the story of Pierre Picaud.
- Villainous Breakdown: Villefort, who has a complete breakdown and goes insane at the end.
- Villain with Good Publicity: All of the Count's enemies have risen to high status in Parisian society and are well-respected with good reputations among their peers.
- Wham Line: "The sea is the cemetery of the Chateau d'If".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Major Cavalcanti, Benedetto's fake father chosen by the Count, essentially disappears after Danglars takes a liking to Benedetto. Also the fate of Benedetto himself, who had committed many crimes and whose court sentence is never revealed after he exposes Villefort as his father. Franz also mostly disappears from the story after his ruined engagement, only briefly appearing at the cut-off duel between the Count and Albert.
- What Year Is This?: It's easy to lose track of time over fourteen years of imprisonment.
- Wicked Cultured: Luigi Vampa, Benedetto, and the Count himself.
- Wife Husbandry: Conveniently ignored by adaptations. Not a straight example, anyway, since the Count isn't even interested in Haydee for most of the story; he just assumed that he was never going to fall in love again, so she has to make all the moves.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Most likely, Dantes's different personas are this kind of disguise (the Lord Wilmore disguise involves false British Teeth).
- World of Badass
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The unnamed countess who, seeing the Count's strange demeanor and unnatural pallor, believes him to be a vampire. This is justified, however, because of the whole scene being a Tuckerisation: the countess in question is based on Lord Byron's mistress at the time, and Byron himself was one of the main originators of the vampire genre.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Dantes has to rewrite a rather major part of his plans when he learns that Maximilien is truly and deeply in love with Valentine. Before that, her death was just another step towards Villefort's planned Despair Event Horizon, forcing him to give her a substance that fakes death long enough that he can get her sent to safety.
- The X of Y
- You Are Number Six: Abbe Faria is prisoner number 27; Dantes is number 34.
- You Killed My Father: Haydee's father was betrayed by Fernand, which as good as left him with a death sentence.
Adaptations with their own trope pages include:
Other adaptations provide examples of:
- The Ace: The Count was this in the 1973 animated series, as he was able to do things like: flying a balloon, paint art forgeries in a week to unmask a real forger, fool a villain into thinking he was a giant, stop the Tower of Pisa from being blown up, etc.
- Ascended Extra: Jacopo, who obeys the Count's instructions without question in the book, becomes The Rick in some adaptations like the 1973 animated series.
- Compressed Adaptation: One of the four conspirators are typically removed from adaptations, though the 1975 Richard Chamberlain version manages to squeeze in all of them.
- Death by Adaptation: Danglars, frequently. In the 1975 TV version, for instance, he gets Fernand's death so that Fernand can go out in a fight scene with Edmond. Gankutsuou is perhaps the heaviest offender in this regard, giving Danglars A Fate Worse Than Death, and ultimately even killing the Count himself.
- Gender Flip/Setting Update:
- The Korean soap opera Cruel Temptation features a female protagonist, who survives her own murder by her husband and his dominative mistress, and is of course is set in present day.
- The ABC thriller series Revenge is set in present day and has a female protagonist in Amanda/Emily.
- The Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil, whose protagonist Rita/Nina returns to have revenge on her Wicked Stepmother Carmen/Carminha after she dumped her off in a landfill so she wouldn't get in her way. She starts working in Carminha's household and not only she begins to worm her way into Carminha's life to deploy her revenge against her, but must also re-evalue her priorities and her desire for a new chance since it can potentially hurt many innocent people (like Carminha's adopted son Jorginho... who turns out to be Nina's Childhood Friend and First Love Batata)
- In the Musical, Vampa is female... and a pirate queen.
- Genre Shift: The book is an historical epic and psychological revenge thriller, but adaptations tend to go the route of an action-heavy Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Lighter and Softer: The 1973 series, which makes the Count into The Ace and his group into a Robin Hood-like group. Sorta justified, as it's geared towards a younger audience than usual.
- Lost in Imitation