Edmond Dantes was a young, merchant sailor that seemed to have everything one could want in life. After all, he had a girlfriend he would soon marry named Mercedes, a loving though aging father, a possible promotion awaiting him, and youth. Having all this, jealous rivals were sure to spring up, and they did.
He was coming home on the ship Pharaon after a somewhat misfortunate voyage. The captain had died, and, according to his dying requests, Edmond was charged with delivering a message from Elba, where Napoleon was, currently, back to France. With the captain gone, Edmond was almost sure to become the captain of the ship next, which created a jealously from Danglars, another sailor.
Edmond's love, Mercedes, had a cousin named Fernand, who loved her. She never considered Fernand more than a brother, saying that she could only love Edmond. Fernand hated this, and when Danglars heard about it the two plotted against Edmond together. Caderousse was also there for the plot, since he was Edmond's neighbor and didn't care too much about Edmond. He wasn't entirely against Edmond, but he participated anyway because he was drunk.
The day before the wedding of Mercedes and Edmond, the plan of the three is set in motion. Edmond is accused of being a follower of Napoleon Bonaparte because of his visit to Elba and giving and receiving packages/letters there. He is arrested and taken to Villefort, a prosecutor. When Villefort heard that Edmond honestly had nothing to do with the whole matter other than dutifully following his captain's request, Villefort told Edmond that he would make sure Edmond would be freed soon. Matters change, however, when Villefort sees that the letter from Edmond is for Villefort's father, who is really a Bonapartist. Fearing that this evidence would hurt his own family, Villefort burns the evidence and changes his mind about letting Edmond go.
Soon, Edmond finds himself going across the water to an island prison called Chateau d'If, which is where some of the worst political offenders are kept. Edmond is kept there for years and tries to kill himself by starving. Sometime halfway through his imprisonment, though, he hears noises on the other side of his prison cell. These noises were eventually revealed to be another prisoner, who has been there several years more than Edmond, named Abbe Faria. Edmond and he soon work together to dig a tunnel of escape and Edmond learns much from him. During this time, Abbe Faria also gets Edmond to realize who his enemies were, so that Edmond fills himself with the desire for revenge. Abbe Faria also shares with Edmond clues to a treasure that they hoped they could get to once they escaped.
Abbe Faria could never fulfill his dream, though, because he became increasingly ill until he died. Edmond saw an opportunity of replacing his friend's body with his own when the body was covered in a sack, so that Edmond could be tossed out of prison. He assumed that the bodies would be buried, but he was thrown into the water. He was able to escape and hide amongst the ruins of a ship that was wrecked in that storm. There, he was found by a group of smugglers, who hire him for his nautical knowledge. He is able to recover the treasure on the island of Monte Cristo, making him wealthy for life, and he rejoins society.
Disguised as several different people, Edmond gathers information about his family, friends, and foes. Caderousse explains that he was drunk during the scheme and could do nothing, so Edmond rewards him with a jewel to pay off his debts. Edmond's father died and Mercedes married Fernand, while Fernand, Danglars, and Villefort all became successful and wealthy. Edmond's friend, Morrel, however, was going out of business. (He was the owner of the merchant ships Edmond used to work on.) Edmond helped him out financially, too, by secretly giving him money.
As the Count of Monte Cristo, he made himself popular in society. His enemies almost looked up to him because of his fortune and knowledge. They couldn't possibly see that he was getting them to slip and fail, creating each one's demise.
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One woman tries to poison almost her whole family and one enemy of Edmond's commits suicide.
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