“All we have to do is kill him, take the diamond and money, then leave.” Gaspard Caderousse looks at his wife with a gleam in his eye. The rogue thinks about what would happen if he lets his wife do the arduous task of killing the jeweler. He already had seen the jeweler’s two pistols. She would rush in to the jeweler’s room and stab the jeweler; the jeweler would shoot and kill her. All Caderousse would have to do is go upstairs, make sure the jeweler is dead, get the diamond, come downstairs, collect the banknotes and leave with the diamond and money. All of this is going through Gaspard Caderousse’s mind before he carries out his plan to take all of the money and the diamond. It seems that people will do almost anything for money. The power of money in the affairs of human beings is a predominant theme in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
Money affects even poor men in The Count of Monte Cristo. Gaspard Caderousse is one of these men. At the very beginning of the book Edmond Dantes comes home from a trip on the Pharaon and visits his father’s house. Almost as soon as Dantes sees his father he says, “What’s the matter father? You don’t look well.” (7) His father says that his next door neighbor, Caderousse, required him to pay off an old loan between him and Edmond. The loathsome Caderousse doesn’t care that if he takes the money from Old Dantes while his son is away he won’t have enough money left to live and he will most likely starve to death. All Caderousse cares about is money. He is willing to kill someone for money; he lies for it too. This happens later in the novel after Edmond Dantes has escaped from prison. Disguised as Abbe Busoni, Dantes comes to Caderousse’s Inn and tells Caderousse that he is the person to carry out Edmond Dantes’ will. The Abbe Busoni has a diamond and he is to split it up among Edmond Dantes’ only five real friends. Caderousse tries to make it sound as if he is the only real friend and is the worse off even though, in reality, he isn’t Edmond’s real friend. He lies over and over claiming to be an honest man just so he can get the whole diamond. He gets the whole diamond by lying repeatedly. Later, he gets his money by blackmailing someone. He blackmails Andrea Calvacanti, Benedetto, in order to get money. He is able to blackmail Andrea because he knows his real name and about his past. At first, Caderousse asks for smaller amounts of money. Being the greedy man he is, he asks for more and more money until eventually he convinces Andrea to participate in the robbing of the Count of Monte Cristo’s house. Caderousse’s greed for money gets him killed in the end and he realizes his real enemy is not Edmond Dantes, but money.
Money seems to affect even well to do people. They have enough money to do well in life, but they want more and more. One of these people is Heloise de Villefort, the wife of Edmond Dantes’ enemy, Monsieur de Villefort. Her greed for money is what, in the first place, causes her to even think about plotting against her family members. When the Count of Monte Cristo is talking to her about poison she seems very educated about it. She says things that the Count of Monte Cristo knows most women don’t know. She knows about brucine and what it can do to a person. She sees it bring her son back to consciousness when he faints, but knows that much larger amounts can easily kill a person. When the Count of Monte Cristo is leaving she asks for a bottle of brucine and she gets it the next day. After she plots against her family she decides to take action. She knows that all of her son’s grandfather’s money will go to her stepdaughter, Valentine, unless something happens. Valentine’s grandparents and Valentine will have to die. After the Count of Monte Cristo introduced the idea of poisoning into her mind she knew what to do. She decides she must start with Monsieur de Saint-Meran. She poisons him and he dies. Madame de Saint-Meran comes to the Villeforts’ home and claims she is sick after her husband’s death. She dies soon after and the doctor says she died of grief, but she could have been poisoned because “the symptoms of tetanus and those of poisoning by vegetable matter, are absolutely identical.” (243) Later, Valentine falls ill and Madame de Villefort thinks she has successfully killed Valentine off but the Count of Monte Cristo saves her. Madame de Villefort thinks that all of her troubles concerning money and her son Edouard are over once Valentine supposedly dies; however, later in the novel Madame de Villefort finds out what the result of her greed turns out to be. Monsieur de Villefort finds out that his wife is the one who killed most of his family and his calloused public prosecutor side orders her to commit suicide so justice can be paid. He coerces her into thinking that killing herself will be much better than the mortifying humiliation of the scaffold and it will not ruin their name. He leaves the house and comes back later. When he enters the house he sees the dolorous scene of his wife and his son dead.
People would think that a man with an extremely immense fortune would escape the power of money. Although the eminent Count of Monte Cristo has a lot of money he is captured by the power of it. He helps the people who try to exonerate him during his jail time with the power of money. One of the people he helps out is Monsieur Morrel. Monsieur Morrel is in the business of trading over water. His business is not doing very well when the Count of Monte Cristo comes to succor him. In fact, his business is almost to the point of bankruptcy. Monsieur Morrel is going to commit suicide because of his loss of money. Disguised as Simbad the Sailor, Edmond Dantes gives him money and a diamond to pay all of his debts. Using his money beneficently sounds very warm and nice; however, he also uses his money to vanquish those who are his adversaries. One of these people is Monsieur de Villefort. Villefort is the public prosecutor who put Dantes in jail without right. He only put Dantes in jail to prevent his own name from being ruined by his father. Dantes figures this out and he causes Villefort to lose everyone he loves just like Villefort did to him. First Dantes plants the idea in Villefort’s wife’s head to poison her family members. Once Madame de Villefort poisons Madame and Monsieur de Saint-Meran and Valentine, Monsieur de Villefort finds out it is his wife who has killed all of his loved ones. He orders her to commit suicide and she follows his orders. Even though she apprehensively follows her husband’s orders she also kills her son and takes one of Villefort’s last loved ones. The last image we see of Villefort is him digging in his garden for the body of his son that’s not there. Realizing that Villefort’s gone mad, Edmond Dantes “recoils in terror.” (404) Having a lot of money does not always bring happiness. The Count of Monte Cristo has more than a lot of money, yet it doesn’t bring him happiness. The only thing that brings him happiness is Haydee. All throughout the novel we see her help with the Count’s plans of revenge, but that is not why she brings him happiness. He ardently loves her and she loves him. At the end of the novel the last image of them is together “on the dark blue line separating the sky from the Mediterranean” (441) sailing away to happiness.
Finally, money is not just an issue in literature. It is also an important key to present day life. People still can control things with money. For example, Mrs. Mary Jane Jenkins is a very wealthy lady. She can very easily bribe people. One particular person she bribes is Mr. Larry Jones, a stockbroker, who gives her insider information every Friday at noon. No one catches her, but if they did she could just give them money so they wouldn’t tell. Things like the example above happen in The Count of Monte Cristo. The power of money in the affairs of human beings is a predominant theme in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
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