In the mid-1800s, a French sailor is unjustly imprisoned for fourteen years. He escapes, finds a fortune, and seeks revenge on the those who put him in prison.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In "Napoleon Bonaparte: Revolutionary or Tyrant?" the passage recounts the life and legacy of the infamous French dictator and emperor.
Introduce this text after Chapter VII. In this chapter, Villefort condemns Dantes to prison because he is afraid the letter Dantes carries will associate Villefort’s family with Napoleon. Have students consider the impact Napoleon had on France. How did Napoleon change the culture of France, and how are those effects reflected in the book? Given how the text describes Napoleon, why does Villefort want to avoid being associated with him?
The informational text "The Science of Solitary Confinement" explores the various ways in which inmates are impacted by solitary confinement.
Introduce this text after Chapter XV. In this chapter, Dantes spends six years in solitary confinement in the Château d'If. Have students consider the research by Haney and Akil on how isolation affects the brains of those prisoners in solitary confinement. Based on this research, how do you think solitary confinement has changed Dantes? How do the challenges that isolated prisoners face in the article compare to the challenges Dantes has faced?
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854B1900) was an Irish author and playwright who is most famous for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. "The Model Millionaire" is a about an average man whose generosity produces an unexpected outcome.
Introduce this text after Chapter XXX, in which Dantes gives Morrel his fortune back for remaining an honest and steadfast man. Have students compare the “model millionaire” in the story to Dantes. In what ways do Dantes' actions compare to Baron Hausberg's in the Model Millionaire? In what ways do you think Dantes will grow more or less similar to the Baron Hausberg as the story continues?
Frank Abagnale conned people for years in order to gain money and power. Although Abagnale was caught and sentenced to prison, he was released after five years in order to help the FBI identify other cases of fraud.
Introduce this text after Chapter XLI, in which Dantes, now living fully as the Count of Monte Cristo, visits Albert’s home and is recognized by Mercedes. Ask students to compare Frank Abagnale and the Count of Monte Cristo. Why might someone decide to live their life in disguise? In what ways might this behavior be justified or considered immoral for the Count of Monte Cristo?
In this article, Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., examines people like Frank Abagnale, the con artist, to determine whether or not the act of cheating—and getting away with it—can be a positive motivator.
Introduce this text after Chapter LXXXIII, in which Dantes reveals his true identity to Caderousse as he is dying — partly due to his own machinations. Ask students to discuss how Vitelli’s theories might shed light on Dantes’ true impulses. Although he says justice is the reason behind his actions, what role could a “cheater’s high” play in Dantes’ motivations? How might this affect his sense of morality?
In "A Poison Tree," a speaker allows their hatred and anger to grow, like a poisonous tree.
Introduce this text after Chapter LXXXIX, in which Mercedes and the Count meet and he listens to her pleas not to enact revenge on her son. Ask students to determine the meaning of the poem, and how that meaning might apply to Dantes' desire for vengeance. Can feelings like the desire for revenge exist in the open or is secrecy a necessary component? After confessing his true intent to Mercedes, how can the Count continue on as he has planned?
In this passage, Bacon discusses the notion of revenge, why some seek it, and the consequences of this fixation.
Introduce this text after Chapter CI, when the Count saves Valentine and reveals who has been trying to poison her. For once, the Count is helping someone else seek vengeance instead of focusing on his own revenge. Have students contrast the different perspectives on revenge that Bacon and Dantes have. How might Dantes respond to Bacon’s claims that private revenge only leads to misfortune? Overall, is revenge worth pursuing?