Summary and Analysis
Chapters 45-46 - The Death of Caderousse
Andrea Cavalcanti returns to his hotel and discovers that Caderousse has been there looking for him. Moreover, Caderousse refused to take his "allowance." Reading the note that Caderousse left, Andrea fears that Caderousse plans to make trouble. He is right. Caderousse wants to see Andrea immediately. Therefore, Andrea dons a disguise and goes immediately to Caderousse's room.
Caderousse demands more money, and Andrea refuses him. Caderousse says that if Andrea really wanted more money, he could easily get it from Monte Cristo, his benefactor. Then, suddenly inspired by the thought of the wealthy Monte Cristo, Caderousse begins to question Andrea in detail about Monte Cristo's house on the Champs Elysées; Andrea answers in detail, and it is very clear that Caderousse means to rob Monte Cristo's house.
The two men part, and the next day, Monte Cristo receives a note informing him that his house will be robbed and, furthermore, that the thief will try and break into the desk in the Count's dressing room. The note ends with the information that this thief will be no ordinary thief; this thief will be an "enemy" of the Count. Monte Cristo's curiosity is sufficiently aroused so that he sets a trap.
He wants all of his staff moved to his house in Auteuil, and he wants the house on the Champs Elysées left exactly as it is — except that the shutters on the ground floor are to be closed. When that is finished, Monte Cristo and Ali slip into a side door and go up to Monte Cristo's bedroom to wait. It is half-past nine. At a quarter to twelve, Monte Cristo hears a faint noise, then another, and then a third; then he hears the sound of a diamond cutting the four sides of a pane of glass. (This is the diamond from a ring that Caderousse finagled from Andrea.)
Monte Cristo signals to Ali, and in the near-darkness, they see a man entering through an open window. He is alone. Ali touches the Count's shoulders. Outside, another man has climbed onto a hitching post to watch. Meanwhile, the thief methodically goes about his work, trying to unlock the desk with his collection of "nightingales" (assorted keys). Unable to find the correct key, Caderousse turns on a dim light. Monte Cristo can scarcely believe his eyes. He motions to Ali not to use any weapons. Quickly then, he dons his disguise as the Abbé Busoni, and taking a lighted candle, he steps into the room. "Good evening, Monsieur Caderousse," he says.
Caderousse is speechless. The Abbé wonders aloud why Caderousse is trying to rob the Count's house. Has prison taught him nothing? Clearly, he says, Caderousse is still very much himself — that is, he is Caderousse the murderer, referring to the jeweler who bought the diamond which Abbé Busoni gave to Caderousse and who was later killed because of the diamond. Caderousse, the Abbé infers, always wants more. Earlier, he wanted the enormous diamond and the money, so he killed the jeweler. Now, he is breaking into the home of a very wealthy gentleman.
"It was poverty," Caderousse gasps, "Poverty drove me to all this." No, Monte Cristo tells him. Poverty does not drive a man to use a diamond to cut through the pane of a window. Caderousse pleads for pity, and the Abbé offers him pity if he will but tell the truth. Caderousse agrees, and he begins to tell the Abbéabout his years in prison, but when he begins to describe his relationship with Benedetto, he begins to lie, and so the Abbé forces him to confess what Andrea's role is in deceiving Parisian society. The Abbé states that he will reveal the truth about Andrea's fraudulence. Caderousse panics: If the Abbé does that, Caderousse will have no more money. Drawing a knife, he lunges at the Abbé, striking him in the middle of the chest, but the knife bounces back, its point blunted. Monte Cristo wore a metal vest, expecting this very thing. Monte Cristo then wrenches Caderousse's arm until he agrees to write a letter to Danglars exposing Andrea. Then he releases Caderousse, who climbs out of the window. During his escape, he is stabbed three times. He makes no sound; he simply slumps to the ground.
Slowly and painfully raising himself on one elbow, he calls out for the Abbé. Monte Cristo comes and forces Caderousse to write one more note, this time naming Benedetto as the man who stabbed him. Caderousse does so, then looks at the Abbé and accuses him of allowing Benedetto to stab him. Not I, says the Count, it was "the justice of God in Benedetto's hand." He tells Caderousse that God gave him health, good work, and good friends and that he squandered them all in laziness and drunkenness.
"I need a doctor," cries Caderousse, "not a priest!" Monte Cristo continues: "God sent an enormous diamond to you, and you became a murderer when you sought to double your good fortune. In prison, you were given a chance to escape and begin a new life when you were slipped a file by myself, but once free, you blackmailed Benedetto, then tried to rob Monte Cristo's house. Then you tried to kill me!"
He urges Caderousse to repent, but Caderousse refuses. So Monte Cristo takes off his disguise and orders Caderousse to look long and hard at him. "Oh, my God," Caderousse cries out, "Forgive me, Lord!"
Ten minutes later, the Abbé Busoni is found praying for the soul of the deceased.
We saw earlier that Caderousse is a person of exceptional greed, and that the Count of Monte Cristo has given him ample opportunity to revise his values. But greed is too strong within Caderousse. Thus, he not only uses his knowledge of Benedetto's prison background, but he also uses his knowledge of Benedetto's fraudulent deception of the Count in order to gain access to the Count's house.
Benedetto, however, is as vicious a criminal as Caderousse is. While he is seemingly willing to betray his benefactor by giving Caderousse the floor plans of the count's house, he in turn informs the Count about Caderousse's intended break-in. And not content with these basic provisions, he later follows Caderousse to the Count's house, and when Caderousse does try and escape, he stabs his former fellow criminal.
When the Count recognizes Caderousse as the thief, he quickly changes to his disguise as the Abbé Busoni, taking the precaution to add heavy metal armor under his priestly frock. Thus, when Caderousse turns on the Abbé, his benefactor, and tries to kill him, the Count realizes that there is no hope for Caderousse. As the Count earlier maintained, he always wanted to play the role of Providence meting out rewards and punishments. Now, the Count, in the disguise of the Abbé, allows Caderousse to leave, knowing full well that someone is lying in wait for Caderousse. Monte Cristo is, as it were, leaving everything to Providence. He tells Caderousse: "I want what God wants . . . If you arrive home safely, leave Paris, leave France, and wherever you are, and as long as you behave honestly, I'll see that you receive a small pension, because if you arrive home safely, then . . . I'll believe that God has forgiven you, and I'll forgive you also." The Count/Abbé cannot bring himself to actually kill Caderousse, but he is willing to leave Caderousse's fate to the hands of Providence.
Before Monte Cristo allows Caderousse to leave, he forces him to write a letter to Danglars, revealing that Andrea Cavalcanti is really the criminal known as Benedetto; this will be a letter which will cause intense pain for another of the Count's enemies. Once again, we will see the Count effecting punishment by slow suffering, which he believes his victims deserve. After the stabbing, the Count gets a signed confession from Caderousse that Benedetto was the person who stabbed him. Thus, the Count has now further entrapped yet another of his enemies.
Before Caderousse dies, Monte Cristo tells him about his immorality, of the many opportunities he had to become a good and honest man and about the many men whom he betrayed; then Monte Cristo reveals that he is really Edmond Dantès, one of the oldest friends whom Caderousse has betrayed. Caderousse is finally able to view Monte Cristo as a savior, someone far superior to most earthly men. He says, "You are the father of men in heaven and the judge of men on earth. I refused to acknowledge you for so long, O my God! Forgive me, Lord, forgive me." It is as though he is seeing in the Count the aura of divine justice; then he dies, ending a chapter in the life of one of Monte Cristo's oldest enemies.