Edmond Dantès, who is only nineteen years old, already has what appears to be the ideal life. He is going to be promoted to the position of captain of a ship, he is betrothed to a lovely and generous young lady named Mercédès, and the majority of the people who know him hold a favourable opinion of him. Despite this, some of Dantès’ purported friends are driven to unhealthy levels of envy because of her seemingly ideal life. Danglars, the treasurer of Dantès’ ship, is envious of Dantès’ early success in his career; Fernand Mondego, who is in love with Dantès’ fiancée and therefore covets his amorous success; and Caderousse, Dantès’ neighbour, is simply envious of Dantès’ much greater good fortune in life than he is himself.
These three individuals collaborate to write a letter accusing Dantès of treason and then send it. Their suspicions are partially founded in reality: Dantès is delivering a letter from Napoleon to a group of Bonapartist followers in Paris as a favour to his captain, who passed away not long ago. Even though Dantès does not have any political beliefs or affiliations of his own, the undertaking is sufficient evidence to incriminate him in treason. Dantès is taken into custody on the day of his wedding for the alleged crimes he committed.
Villefort, who works as an assistant public prosecutor, has uncovered the scheme to frame Dantès, and he is willing to release him. Dantès, however, puts his freedom in jeopardy at the very last second by disclosing the identity of the recipient of Napoleon’s letter that he was intended to deliver to. The individual referred to as Noirtier is Villefort’s father. Villefort, who is petrified that any public knowledge of his father’s traitorous deeds will hamper his own ambitions, plans to put Dantès behind bars for the rest of his life. In spite of the pleadings of Monsieur Morrel, Dantès’s compassionate and trustworthy employer, he is shipped off to the dreaded Chateau d’If, which is home to the country’s most dangerous political prisoners.
While Dantès is serving time for his political beliefs, he crosses paths with Abbé Faria, an Italian priest and philosopher who is also serving time in prison. Faria instils a love of learning in Dantès by instructing him in subjects such as history, physics, philosophy, and many languages. Faria also leaves Dantès a substantial treasure that is buried on the island of Monte Cristo, and he instructs Dantès on how to recover the treasure in the event that he is ever able to flee. When Faria passes away, Dantès decides to conceal himself behind the abbé’s shroud in the hope that he would be buried and then be able to unearth himself. Instead, Dantès is tossed into the water, where he is able to free himself by cutting himself loose and swimming to safety.
After travelling to Monte Cristo, Dantès unearths a massive wealth hidden by Faria. He believes that God has blessed him with wealth so that he may repay those who have extended themselves to assist him and, more importantly, exact revenge on those who have wronged him. He flies back to Marseilles in the guise of an Italian priest known as Abbé Busoni and pays a visit to Caderousse, who is now working as an innkeeper and finding it difficult to make a livelihood for himself and his family. He finds out from Caderousse the specifics of the plan to frame him for the crime. In addition, Dantès finds out that his mother has married Fernand Mondego and that his father has passed away as a result of the anguish brought on by his absence. The news that both Danglars and Mondego have prospered financially and politically and are now contentedly residing in Paris is particularly upsetting to him. Caderousse is given a precious diamond by Dantès as a thank-you gift for the information he provided, as well as for his evident regret over the role he played in Dantès’s fall from grace. Before departing Marseilles, Dantès performs an anonymous act of generosity that saves Morrel’s business.
After ten years have passed, Dantès resurfaces in Rome under the guise of the Count of Monte Cristo. It appears that he is both all-knowing and invincible. While in Rome, Dantès wins over the favour of Albert de Morcerf, the son of Fernand Mondego and Mercédès, by rescuing him from a group of bandits. In exchange for the favour, Albert provides Dantès with access to the social scene in Paris. Mercédès is the only one of his old companions who recognises the mystery count as Edmond Dantès. None of his other old friends do. It is because of this that Dantès is able to seamlessly integrate himself into the lives of Danglars, Mondego, and Villefort. Dantès prepares an intricate plan of retribution and then puts it into motion, armed with the damaging information he has gathered about each of them over the course of the preceding decade.
The first person to get a punishment is Mondego, who is now famously known as the Count de Morcerf. Dantès reveals Morcerf’s most shameful secret, which is that he gained his riches by abandoning his previous benefactor, the Greek vizier Ali Pacha, and then selling the Greek vizier’s wife and daughter into slavery to amass his wealth. Haydée, Ali Pacha’s daughter, who has been living with Dantès ever since he paid for her freedom seven years ago, testifies against Morcerf in front of the senate, therefore permanently tarnishing Morcerf’s reputation as a trustworthy individual. Albert and Mercédès are so humiliated by Morcerf’s betrayal that they decide to run away and leave their soiled money behind. Morcerf commits suicide.
The punishment for Villefort will be meted out gradually and in numerous stages. The first thing that Dantès does is take advantage of Madame de Villefort’s desire to kill someone by covertly instructing her in the ways of poison. While Madame de Villefort is in the process of wreaking chaos and eliminating one member of the household at a time, Dantès is sowing the seeds for yet another public revelation. It was brought to light in court that Villefort is responsible for the crime of attempted infanticide since he made an attempt to bury his illegitimate child while the child was still alive. Villefort loses his mind because he is convinced that everyone he cares about has been murdered and because he is aware that he would soon be required to answer for serious criminal accusations.
Dantès exacts his vengeance on Danglars by taking advantage of his adversary’s acquisitive nature. He starts a number of phoney credit accounts with Danglars, each of which ends up costing him a significant amount of money. In addition to this, he helps Danglars’ daughter Eugénie flee with a female partner while also manipulating Danglars’ unfaithful and dishonest wife. This causes Danglars to lose even more money. Finally, when Danglars is close to becoming bankrupt and is about to depart without paying any of his creditors, Dantès arranges for the Italian bandit Luigi Vampa to kidnap Danglars and rid him of any residual money he may have. Dantès spares Danglars’s life, but leaves him impoverished.
In the meantime, while these deeds of retribution are being carried out, Dantés is also attempting to carry out one more good deed. Dantès has the intention of assisting the brave and honourable Maximilian Morrel, the son of the generous shipowner. In order to do this, he concocts an intricate plan to rescue Maximilian’s fiancée, Valentine Villefort, from her stepmother, who is planning to kill her. Dantès hopes that this will ensure that the couple will be truly happy together for the rest of their lives. Dantès administers a drug to Valentine that gives the appearance that she has passed away, and then he takes her to the island of Monte Cristo. Maximilian is led to believe that Valentine has passed away by Dantès for a period of one month, which results in Maximilian developing a desire to end his own life. After then, Dantès discloses the fact that Valentine is still alive. Maximilian is now able to enjoy the greatest heights of ecstasy since he has been to the lowest depths of anguish. When Dantès finally lets himself fall in love with the devoted and beautiful Haydée, he, too, is ultimately successful in achieving his goal of happiness.