The Abbe reveals to Dantes the existence of a hidden treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo. The existence was discovered by the Abbe by reading the will of Caesar Sprada, who had been made a Cardinal of Rome. Dantes at first thinks that the Abbe is crazy, but he changes his mind when he reads a letter, which reveals the exact location of the treasure. Abbe Faria tells Dantes that he meant to share the treasure with him once they escaped, but should the Abbe die, it shall all belong all to Dantes. The Abbe considers Dantes his son of captivity.
The existence of a formidable treasure adds adventure to the plot and promises to give Dantes the financial resources he shall need to seek revenge upon his enemies. By trusting the Abbe, whom others had believed to be crazy, he will amass a great fortune. The Abbe gives Dantes the knowledge of the treasure because he anticipates his own death, and he has paternal affection for Dantes.
The origins of the treasure create a strongly ironic plot twist. Dantes will use a fortune that had belonged to a man who like himself had been robbed by ambitious men. The story, as told by the Abbe Faria, is that the Pope had poisoned Caesar Sprada, the man who had possessed the great riches of Monte Cristo. Anticipating this evil deed, Sprada had made his nephew his sole heir, yet his nephew was also poisoned, and knowledge of the treasure disappeared with them. The Abbe had discovered the will and recovered the exact location of the treasure. Dantes will now go seek this recompense for the time he spent in prison and he will then use it to exact revenge on his enemies. The fortune symbolizes how fate will once again turn in Dantes' favor.
The Abbe suffers from another attack, this one proving fatal. He calls out to Dantes and Dantes rushes to the aid of his mentor. No aid will save the priest. Dantes then hides out in the tunnel, where he hears that the Abbe is pronounced dead by the prison doctors. They will come pick up the body at ten or eleven o'clock. Dantes thus concocts a plan. He substitutes himself for the dead priest¹s body in the body bag that the doctors provided. He brings a knife with him. He anticipates being buried, after which he will push up the soft earth, and obtain freedom.. In reality, he is tossed into the stormy sea surrounding the Chateau D'If.
This chapter foreshadows the future for Dantes. Now that Dantes knows of the treasure of Monte Cristo he realizes what this fortune could mean for his plans for vengeance. When the priest dies, Dantes is left alone with the corpse. Dumas plays with imagery of daylight and night. Daylight streams into the cell and wins over the night. Similarly Dantes' life is about to awaken. When the jailers joke and say "Bon Voyage" to the corpse, little do they know that the spirit of the Abbe lives on in Dantes. Dantes will fulfill the Abbe's dream of recovering the treasure of Monte Cristo, however he will use it to embark on his journey of vengeance.
Once Dantes is in the sea he must collect his thoughts and strength. He forces himself to swim to an abandoned isle several miles from the prison. Once there he falls asleep on jagged rocks. A Genoese merchant ship picks him up. Dantes tells them his ship has just been wrecked, for a ship did wreck upon the rocks, yet everyone aboard died. The Genoese find it odd that he has a long beard. The date is February 28, 1829, fourteen years after Dantes was incarcerated. Dumas describes the changes that Dantes' face has undergone. Dantes' face is no longer smiling, but instead glances of hatred dart from his eyes. Dantes joins the crew of the ship and becomes a smuggler aboard the Jeune-Amelie. He passes the abandoned Isle of Monte Cristo at least twenty times, without opportunity to land. Finally, after several months a smuggling expedition will take the boat there. Dantes is overjoyed.
Dantes' struggle to overcome the rough waves of the sea is a symbol of rebirth. He emerges from prison a new man. This chapter shows the change that has occurred in Dantes during his fourteen years as prisoner. He no longer is the naïve youth from the story's beginning. Not only has his countenance changed, but also he is stronger and wiser. He has the wisdom to hide his identity from the Genoese smugglers. He becomes one of them because he no longer respects the law. The law is corrupt, for it unjustly had him incarcerated. Dantes sees himself as above the law. He also has the patience and wisdom not to attempt to find the treasures of Monte Cristo right away. Fate goes his way when the smugglers independently decide to land there for an expedition.
When the ship lands on the Isle of Monte Cristo, Dantes deludes the crew. He tells them he wishes to go kill a wild goat. Jacopo, the captain, insists on coming with him. They set out, Dantes kills a goat, and he sends Jacopo back to cook it. Meanwhile, Dantes slips and feigns a serious injury, one that will not allow him to be moved back to the ship. Instead, the ship leaves to complete the smuggling expedition and agrees to soon return to fetch him. Dantes is thus left alone on an uninhabited island to search for the treasure. He excavates and finds a wooden chest bound with iron. When the lid opens precious stones are revealed. Dantes is dumbfounded, but it is not a dream. Dantes prays to God.
Dantes does not trust his fellow smugglers to search for the treasure with him. He is no longer the naïve trusting youth who was imprisoned fourteen years prior. The treasure is immense and shall provide the funds for him to execute his vengeance upon his enemies. The treasure is a symbol of the unjust system that poisoned the Sprada family, the very same politically driven system that incarcerated Dantes. Similarly, however, the treasure represents Divine Justice, for it is Dantes' compensation for a lost youth. The Divine Intervention which started with the arrival of the Abbe Faria is now complete. Dantes now has at his disposal all the tools he needs to punish his enemies.
Dantes fills his pockets with jewels, and reburies the treasure. The Jeune-Amelie returns to pick him up. Dantes then goes to Genoa to buy a boat with a secret compartment, and returns to the Isle Monte Cristo to retrieve the remaining treasure. Jacopo, meanwhile returns from Marseilles where Dantes had sent him. He has news that Louis Dantes is dead, and Mercedes has vanished. Upset by this news, Dantes then uses a newly acquired English passport to enter the city's harbor and town.
This chapter shows how the Abbe's education proves useful to Dantes. He has acquired the fortune, and Jacopo is the first person to believe that this fortune is an inheritance. Dantes has the education befitting one of noble birth thanks to the Abbe, and can thus easily pass for a well-educated nobleman.
Dantes' return to Marseilles marks the beginning of his revenge, a revenge that will parallel the manner by which Dantes suffered. Dantes was punished anonymously and lived for years without knowing who was behind his incarceration. Now the tables have turned; Dantes will anonymously start to wreak havoc on the lives of Danglers, Villefort, Caderouse, and Fernand without them realizing that he is behind their misfortunes.
Dantes, disguised as the Abbe Busoni, visits Caderousse, who now owns a hotel. Despite his wife's warnings Caderousse decides to reveal to the Abbe Busoni all the details pertaining to the conspiracy against Dantes when he is offered, a diamond to incite his confession. The Abbe tells Caderousse that the diamond is a gift from Dantes for his true friends. The greedy Caderousse willingly damns the guilty Danglars and Fernand in order to receive the diamond all for himself. The only person he commends is Morrel, who apparently stood by Dantes and his father. Caderousse reveals that M. Morrel is now on the brink of poverty because many of his ships have unexpectedly sunk. He further tells the Abbe that Danglars has become a rich baron from banking and Fernand has made his fame and fortune in the army. Fernand is now the Count de Morcerf, and he is married to Mercedes, who succumbed to Fernand after eighteen months of waiting and mourning for Dantes. After confessing all this information to the disguised Dantes, Caderousse receives the diamond.
The first person that Dantes chooses to pay a disguised visit to is Caderousse. The reason for this is obvious: Dantes knows that Caderousse will do anything for money, and hence he is the most obvious person from which to bribe a confession. In addition, it would be substantially harder to elicit any information from Villefort, Fernand, or Danglers since they are all wealthy and powerful. By offering part of a diamond to the poor hotel owner, Dantes obtains the confession he is seeking.
This scene is also important because it confirms the suspicions that Dantes has harbored in prison. For the first time he can be absolutely sure that his "friends" conspired against him. His lust for revenge, first seen while in prison, will only be made stronger through Caderousse¹s confession. At the same time that he learns the fate of those that conspired against him, he also learns of the good deeds of those who were his true friends, and will be able to help them later.
This is the first scene where Dantes interacts with one his former comrades. It is noteworthy that his relationship with Caderousse is entirely different now. Instead of being polite and subservient to Caderousse, Dantes is in charge of the conversation the entire time. Rather than being a victim of Caderousse¹s greed, as his father was early on in the novel, he is now the one manipulating that greed to obtain what he wants, namely information about the conspiracy against him. This changed relationship will permeate the rest of the novel; it is important to note that there will never again be a scene where Dantes is humble or subservient until the very end.
Caderousse¹s greed is a fundamental part of his character, and as such it begins to define his character more and more. The same will be true of the other conspirators, all of whom will have traits that allow Dantes to manipulate them to his advantage. In this case, Caderousse's greed will later prove to be his ultimate downfall.
Dantes next disguises himself as an Englishman working for a firm named Thomson and French. He visits Monsieur de Boville, the Inspector of Prisons, who also happens to have an investment in M Morrel's company. Morrel¹s company, as mentioned by Caderousse in the previous chapter, is about to go bankrupt. Dantes offers to buy this investment from the Inspector, who happily sells it to Dantes since he can recover his money. Meanwhile, Dantes inquires after the Abbe Faria's death and what the prison thought had become of the old Abbe. Boville, overjoyed at having recovered his investment, is happy to relate the story of the Abbe¹s death. Dantes learns that he too is presumed dead, since the guards thought the cannonball tied to him would have caused him to drown. Dantes also looks at the records regarding his imprisonment. These included Villefort's malicious orders to imprison him and Morrel's attempts to have him freed.
Dumas creates a coincidence where the Inspector of Prisons is the same person to whom M.Morrel owes a considerable sum. This allows Dantes to conveniently both view the prison records and buy Morrel's bank notes from the Inspector. This aids Dantes in confirming that Villefort played a large role in his imprisonment, and it also confirms Caderousse¹s statements that Morrel tried to help Dantes.
The fact that Dantes purchases the banknotes from Boville, thus becoming a bondholder to whom Morrel owes money, it important. As the holder of the banknotes, Dantes becomes the most powerful person in Morrel¹s life. He can either use these debt notes to help M. Morrel, or to cause him to go entirely bankrupt. This is the first time that the reader can start to see a fundamental characteristic of Dantes¹ personality: he believes that man must suffer greatly before he can enjoy happiness. Even the men and women whom he considers friends he will first try to make suffer before "resurrecting" them.
After collecting many of the debt bills with M. Morrel's signature on them, Dantes, disguised again as the Thomson and French representative, visits Morrel. This visit coincides with the unfortunate news that M. Morrel¹s last ship, the Pharaon, sank during its return voyage from India. Several of the crew members arrive to reveal this bit of news. M. Morrel is therefore unable to honor his debts, most of which are now held by Dantes.
Dantes, wishing to help Morrel, extends the credit due for three months. As he is leaving the house he meets M. Morrel's daughter on the stairway. He tells her that she will receive a letter from Sinbad the Sailor at some point in the future, and that she must follow the instructions of the letter once she receives it. Dantes also exits with a member of the former Pharaon crew.
Chapter 18 contains a great deal of foreshadowing. As the holder of the banknotes, Dantes wields power over M. Morrel. He chooses to give M. Morrel an additional three months to come up with the money to pay the debts, which at first seems to be merely altruistic on his part. However, when Dantes leaves he cryptically tells Morrel¹s daughter to expect a letter from "Sinbad the Sailor". In addition, he also speaks with a member of the Pharaon. Both of these events foreshadow that Dantes is plotting something.
Dantes¹ plans can be largely extrapolated by several clues given in the chapter. First, he grants three months reprieve to M. Morrel. This indicates that whatever he is planning, it will take some time to complete. Second, Dantes uses the nomiker "Sinbad the Sailor". This name is synonymous with good luck; in "Arabian Nights" Sinbad embarks on several journeys that turn out to be initially disastrous but which always end up working out and granting Sinbad extreme wealth. In this case, combined with the fact that Dantes speaks with a Pharaon crewmember, the foreshadowing indicates that Dantes is planning to have great wealth delivered to M. Morrel at some point in the future.
As mentioned earlier, Dantes has come to believe that man must suffer before he deserves to enjoy wealth and prosperity. This is clearly evidenced in his use of the name Sinbad. This name is quite appropriate for Dantes; after suffering for many years he has now escaped from prison and found money beyond his wildest dreams, much like the fabled sailor. The analogy is drawn even closer when we consider that Dantes was a initially a sailor as well.
Morrel's remaining creditors cash in their bills, and although he pays them his funds are now liquidated. Morrel, desperate to honor his debt to Dantes, asks Danglars for help since Danglers is a banker. Danglers refuses to give him any money.
After the three months are nearly up, Morrel¹s wife and daughter summon his son from a garrison. Morrel, expecting the return of the representative from Thomson and French in a few hours, prepares his pistols in order to commit suicide. Before Dantes arrives, however, Morrel¹s daughter Julie receives the letter from Sinbad the Sailor telling her to fetch a red purse from the sixth floor mantelpiece of 15 Allees de Meilhan. In this purse the Morrel's find a diamond marked as Julie's dowry. The banknotes owed to Thomson and French are also contained within the purse and are marked paid. Simultaneously, a duplicate of the Pharaon pulls into harbor with members of the former crew at its helm. This is a public spectacle, drawing a large crowd. M. Morrel knows a benefactor has helped him, though he does not know who it might be. Dantes stands in the shadows watching the miracle he has created take place. Then he whisks himself off in skiff with the help of Jacopo. Having rewarded his true friends, he will now start to exact his revenge.
This chapter is truly remarkable due to the effect of timing. It is a supreme example of Dumas¹ talent at capturing his reader's interest and attention. Events seem to fall into place perfectly. For example, M.Morrel's son returns at the same time the note from Sinbad the Sailor is received. This is also at the same time that Morrel plans to commit suicide in order to maintain his honor. The note accompanying the diamond wipes out M. Morrel's debts and thus saves him from both suicide and dishonor.
Although there is no blatant reason why Dantes needs to play a three month waiting game with M. Morrel, it can best be interpreted as part of his psychology. The happiness that M. Morrel experiences at this mysterious salvation is intensified by the fact that he was forced to suffer for it, nearly committing suicide in the process. This again reflects Dantes innate belief that a man must suffer before achieving happiness.
The return of a new construction of the Pharaon is symbolic of Dantes' power over fate. Although the ship had sunk, Dantes is able to play a God-like role and give the Pharaon a new life. This act of resurrection is a recurring theme in the novel; Dantes will constantly resurrect people that he cares about, while simultaneously allowing others to die. His power over life and death is a form of divinity achieved through his suffering, and Dumas almost seems to imply that men can become god-like if they suffer enough (an indirect reference to Christianity and the suffering of Christ).
Albert de Morcerf, son of Mercedes and Fernand, is introduced as a wealthy young nobleman. He is visiting Rome during carnival with his friend Baron Franz d'Epinay. They find the suite at their hotel unsatisfactory, but when they complain they are told that a mysterious rich personage has rented out all the other rooms. Albert and Franz are also unable to rent a carriage. When Dantes, disguised as the Count of Monte Cristo, hears of their difficulty he offers them a seat in his carriage. He also requests to meet them later, thus inviting the two boys to visit him in his elaborate chambers. Dantes suggests they all attend a public execution in the square. This prompts a discussion of various methods of executions, a topic that the Count knows a great deal about. He tells Albert that he does not find decapitation a suitable punishment for many offenses. For example, crimes that cause immense human suffering should not be punished so quickly. The offender should first be made to suffer slowly.
The significance of this chapter is twofold. First, it introduces Dantes as the Count of Monte Cristo for the first time. This is the persona he will use to ingratiate himself upon the upper crust of Europe. As a rich Count, he uses his wealth to create an atmosphere of extreme luxury, impressing the two young men in this scene and later on everyone he meets. Second, Dantes knows that in order to exact his revenge he must have access to his intended victims. Thus, he needs to become a member of the upper crust nobility. By entertaining Albert and Franz, he is really scheming to enter the Parisian society by winning Albert de Morcerf's favor. Thus, every gesture made by Dantes in his role as The Count will be premeditated and calculated.
This scene is the first of the "plot" scenes, where Dantes begins to construct the web by which he will destroy Danglers, Villefort and Fernand. He has the patience (after all he was imprisoned for fourteen years) to construct the perfect plot to strike at his enemies. His discussion of punishments with Albert and Franz foreshadows that his enemies' downfall will not be painless. He believes in an eye for an eye, and thus, since he has suffered so much, his enemies will suffer a great deal.
The detailed discussion of execution techniques shows the breadth of Dantes¹ learning. As the Count, Dantes will exhibit a tremendous amount of knowledge that shows his exposure to many different cultures. This is merely the first example of his showcasing his expertise on a subject, and throughout the novel his ability to discuss any subject in depth will impress and frighten his listeners, much the way he affects Albert in this scene.
The book has been divided based on a 73 chapter edition; this may differ from other editions.