Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
CHAPTER 6: The Deputy Procurer du Roi
The chapter opens on the marriage feast of M. de Villefort and Renée de Saint-Méran. The assembly of people at the feast are officers and magistrates, all loyal to the King of France, many of whom had resigned their posts under Napoleon. The conversations revolves gleefully around the downfall of Napoleon and Robespierre, another key figure in the Revolution. Renéeís mother, the Marquise de Saint-Méran, remarks that Villefort, while a staunch supporter of the monarchy, must retain some revolutionary blood, considering that his father is such a celebrated Girondin, or revolutionary. The Marquise adds that while her father lost his head for his loyalty to the King, Villefortís father Noirtier transformed from "Citizen Noirtier" to "Count Noirtier the Senator" after the re-installation of the monarchy, suggesting that his father has been clever enough to survive politically since Napoleonís exile. Villefort makes a point of disowning his fatherís political beliefs, reminding the party that he had gone so far as to even take the name "de Villefort" to distance himself from his infamous father. The Marquise admits that she believes fully in de Villefortís loyalty to the King, and adds that should he come across anyone conspiring against the government he, in his position as magistrate, must be all the more certain to treat the offence with severity. Villefort agrees that swift punishment of revolutionaries is necessary, and confesses his fear that France has not yet heard the last of Napoleon.
The conversation turns to the marriage of Villefort and Renée, and the Marquis de Saint Méran mentions that the King was most pleased to hear of the match and that he has great faith in Villefortís ability as the magistrate of Marseilles. Villefort is thrilled to have been mentioned so favorably by the King and expresses his deepest wish to show the King his gratitude. Villefort announces to the assembled party that he must leave since a Bonapartiste conspiracy has just been discovered, reading aloud the letter he has just received (the letter written by Danglars denouncing Dantès as a traitor to the Crown). As the senior Procurer is away at the moment, Villefort, as Deputy Procurer, must try the case.
In this chapter Dumas further describes the state of French political affairs and the extreme view of royalists as regards their opposition to Napoleon and his followers. Introduced to Villefort, the fourth man that will take part in the betrayal of Dantès, we learn that he is ambitious to a fault and loyal to the King of France, particularly as he is marrying into a royalist family and must prove that his fatherís loyalties to Napoleon have not affected his own royalist sentiments. Dumas accentuates Villefortís crime here by emphasizing what will prove to be Villefortís hypocrisy: Villefort claims to be the strong arm of justice and the law, but his own crimes will go unpunished until "The Hand of God" ensures that he pays for his own crimes. Villefortís hypocrisy can be seen in several instances in this chapter, particularly with his condemnation of parricides or attempts on the life of the King (a sort of father to France), in that Villefort will eventually be one of the main culprits responsible for the death of Dantèsí father.
CHAPTER 7 - The Examination
Villefort discusses the arrest of Dantès briefly with the commissary of police who had just arrested him and Morrel approaches Villefort. Morrel pleads on behalf of Dantès to Villefort, who is obviously an acquaintance. Villefort assures Morrel he will act impartially. Villefortís first impression of Dantès is favorable, and he recognizes courage, intelligence and honesty in his face. Dantès tells Villefort that he was at the festival of his marriage when he was arrested, a detail which makes Villefort shudder with compassion.
Villefort becomes convinced of Dantèsí innocence over the course of the conversation and asks Dantès if he might have any enemies. Dantès says he is unaware of anyone who may be jealous of him and, reading the letter, confesses he does not know who could have written it. Dantès relates the events surrounding Captain Leclèreís death, describing how, shortly before dying, the Captain had charged whim with the delivery of a letter to the grand-marshal at Elba. Villefort tells Dantès that he believes him fully and that it was simple imprudence, which had placed him in his current situation. Villefort tells him he may leave upon handing over the letter. Dantès gives him the letter, addressed to a Monsieur Noirtier. Villefort is struck to learn that the letter is addressed to his father and has difficulty in not appearing visibly shaken at learning the identity of the recipient. Villefort repeatedly asks Dantès if he has shown the letter or mentioned the name of the recipient to anyone - Dantès replies that he has not. Villefort is inwardly concerned that the discovery of the letter will ruin him, as the son of a man obviously engaged in a conspiracy against the King.
Villefort announces that rather than release Dantès as he had planned, he must consult the trial justice. Villefort, in an act meant to convince Dantès of his resolution to help him, burns the letter as the only evidence against him. Dantès thanks him and Villefort tells him that he will be detained until the evening, and that for his own sake, he must not mention the letter to anyone. Dantès agrees. When Dantès leaves, Villefort sinks into his seat, musing on how, if the Procurer had been in Marseilles at the time of Dantès arrest, Villefort would have been ruined. Villefort suddenly smiles with an idea and determines to use the situation to his advantage.
This chapter further shows the "evil" nature of Villefort, particularly when contrasted with Dantès, who is obviously naive and trusting of Villefort. Notably, the two men are very similar in that they are both hardworking and intelligent men living in Marseilles who are about to be married - however, Villefort will compromise Dantès for his own gain. Villefort lies to Dantès several times, at one point with the intention of saving his own father (Noirtier), which will ultimately be at the expense of Dantèsí father, who will die while Dantès is in jail.