Hello, people of r/literature!
I am re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo after initially reading it many years ago. I remember that I absolutely loved the plot, the characters, themes, and symbolism from Dumas. During my current read, I am taking a slower and more deliberate approach to reading it and looking to start a discussion about a pivotal moment in the plot. Please note, though I have read the novel before, I wish to remain generally unaware of the details that follow this moment and keep the discussion based around theories of why this character did what they did.
(Spoilers in the first ten chapters below)
>!In Chapter 7: The Examination, Villefort sentences Dantes to prison. As Dumas describes it, Villefort had decided to free Dantes prior to learning to intended recipient of his letter. However, once the name Noirtier was mentioned, he committed to locking Dantes away. From my understanding, Villefort decided to imprison him was to avoid the possibility of this information becoming public knowledge; people would associate him with his father's notorious name which could tarnish/destroy his political career. However, there are two mentions of separate characters already associating Noirtier's name with Villefort's.
In the previous chapter, Villefort says, "For my own part, I have laid aside even the name of my father, and altogether disown his political principles. He was—nay, probably may still be—a Bonapartist, and is called Noirtier; I, on the contrary, am a stanch royalist, and style myself de Villefort" (Dumas, para. 19). Here, he admits Nortier is his father to numerous powerful people including his betroved's parents (the Marquis and Marquise de Saint–Meran).
In the chapter ten, even the king knows the association between Villefort and Noirtier as the following conversation takes place between King Louis XVIII and M. de Blacas:
“M. de Villefort!” cried the king, “is the messenger’s name M. de Villefort?”
“And he comes from Marseilles?”
“Why did you not mention his name at once?” replied the king, betraying some uneasiness.
“Sire, I thought his name was unknown to your majesty.”
“No, no, Blacas; he is a man of strong and elevated understanding, ambitious, too, and, pardieu, you know his father’s name!”
“Noirtier the Girondin?—Noirtier the senator?”
“He himself. (Dumas, ch. 10)”
Therefore, even King Louix XVIII knows their names and relations. If this is all public knowledge, why does Villefort sentence Dantes to prison? What do you think he is trying to protect?
Source: reddit post