The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : None
This is a tough one, because there's really nothing basic about The Count of Monte Cristo. The book seems to fit into a number of categories, at least at first glance. It's a rags to riches story, you might think. After all, Edmond literally goes from rags (in prison) to riches (on the island of Monte Cristo). There is also the sense of his "Overcoming the Monster," if you consider man's capacity to hate his fellow man a kind of monster. Considering how silly and awkward all these attempts to slap a name on The Count's plot are, we think it's best we move on and look at why it doesn't fit.
Here's the thing: Booker assumes that a book is going to have one big old plot arc, and The Count of Monte Cristo doesn't. For one, there's more than one plot: The whole Villefort poisoning story can really stand on its own – even though it is a big part of the story; and something about the prison sequence feels…self-contained. You know, they've made whole movies about that kind of thing, and most of them don't involve the protagonist absorbing the whole mass of human knowledge at the same time. Second, and this is really big, there's really no arc to speak of. It's really more of a little peak at the beginning (Edmond's rise to the top), followed by a big drop (Edmond's fall into the dungeons of the Chateau d'If), followed by a BIG rise (Edmond's prison break and ten year scheme-planning period, during which everything goes according to plan), followed by a little fall (the Count's crisis of conscience), ending with the nice little happy voyage over the horizon. This is all to say that most of the theoretical plot-graph is one big red (aren't the lines on these sorts of things always red?) rising line – and that's not even taking into account the subplots. So, yeah, like we said, it's not really basic at all.