The Count of Monte Cristo
How we cite our quotes:
"Ah, but who can ever know what may happen, my dear fellow? Man proposes, God disposes…"
Andrea sighed and said: "But as long as I remain in Paris and nothing forces me to leave, this money that you just mentioned is guaranteed?"
"Oh, yes, absolutely." (61.46-48)
It's almost like a jinx. The moment Andrea says, "As long as […] nothing forces me to leave," you get the feeling he'll be leaving sooner than he thinks.
"The next day you could read in Le Moniteur: "Yesterday's article in Les Messager announcing Don Carlos' escape and a rebellion in Barcelona was without foundation. King Don Carlos is still in Burgos and the peninsula is entirely tranquil. A telegraphic signal, misread because of the fog, gave rise to this false report." (68.164)
A butterfly flaps its wings in Pittsburgh and sets off a tornado in Tokyo. That's sort of what we have here: a very little thing has some very big consequences. In this case, though, the Count is flapping the wings and making darn sure that there's going to be a tornado.
"My life has been worn away by the pursuit of difficult things and in breaking down those who, voluntarily or otherwise, of their own free will or as a result of chance, stood in my way and raised such obstacles. It is rare to feel an ardent desire for something and not find that it is ardently defended by those from whom one would like to take it or seize it." (67.14)
Villefort describes his life as one long exercise in coercion. His philosophy – anything worth wanting has to be taken from someone else – implies that manipulation, specifically the manipulation of another person, is totally necessary if one wants to get ahead in life.