Shakespeare vs. Dumas: Romeo and Juliet and the Count

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is an adventure novel set in France during the first half of the nineteenth century. William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet is a play of the sixteenth century in Italy. Dumas used the influence of many Shakespearean plays; however, Romeo and Juliet is particularly similar to The Count of Monte Cristo. Both authors originated from different eras, are closely compared due to Dumas’s use of themes regarding vengeance and tragedies, symbols of objects, defamatory romances, and dramatic characters.

Keywords: vengeance, tragedies, symbols, romance

Alexandre Dumas began writing his novel in 1815 during the fall of Napoleon’s empire, which was extremely prevalent to the historical references in the novel. As for the appearance of a Shakespearean influence, David Fromkin states, “Shakespeare had been unknown in France for the first century after his death and unappreciated for the century after that. Now his plays were all the rage. Dumas, though he spoke no English, found that the performances shook him to the core and revolutionized his approach to the theater” (2006, pg 17+).

Once Dumas began writing he prompted aspects of Shakespeare to his work including themes and plot lines.

Literature Review

Hatred to Revenge. Romeo and Juliet and The Count of Monte Cristo have similar, recurring themes throughout each story. The common theme of hatred and revenge displays the similarities of the novels. In the Count of Monte Cristo, Danglars and Fernand’s jealousy of Edmond’s drives them to hatred, which allows them to justify their actions of sending Edmond Dantes to prison.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton

Proficient in: Alexandre Dumas

5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

After Dantes escapes the prison and discovers the truth about his incarceration, he is motivated to wait as long as needed to get revenge. In Shakespeare’s work, Romeo and Juliet’s love is fueled by the hatred between the Montague and Capulet families. This led to Tybalt, from the Capulet family, to kill Romeo’s friend Mercutio. Romeo became very angry and killed Tybalt. The pivotal moments of hatred and vengeance turn the plot of the novel and the play.

Poison. The tangible symbol of poison is used twice in The Count of Monte Cristo.

Alexandre Dumas describes the poison by saying:

A drop of that elixir sufficed to bring the child back to life when he was dying, but three drops would have driven the blood into his lungs in such a way as to give him palpitations of the heart. Six would have interrupted his breathing and caused him a much more serious fit than the one he was already suffering. Ten would have killed him (ch. 52).

The potion called brucine can be useful if taken in small doses, but it can also kill. This represents the balance between morality and the battle between life and death. Madame Villeforte uses poison to kill her family members, but Dantes uses it to cure peoples’ diseases. He also aids Maximillien and Valentine when they plan an escape together. Some use the poison as a revenge tactic; however, Dantes does not use it for revenge. Dantes transforms from a vengeful character to a wealthy man that generously rewards those for their moral actions.

In the play, Romeo illegally buys poison from the apothecary. The famous playwright wrote, “Within the infant rind of this weak flower Poison hath residence and medicine power: for this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part; being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.” This acts as another misuse of the poison because Romeo uses the poison to kill himself because of his ignorance. The potion kills Romeo and Juliet, but Dumas uses the poison for a different ending in his novel. The poison represents a moral compass of one’s actions and causes dramatic deaths in both Shakespeare and Dumas’s writing.

Romance. The “unique” romances are seen in both works, but they are shown slightly different. In Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s love is faced with the feud of their families, the Capulets and Montagues. Juliet was to be married to Paris, who was kinsman to the Prince. At the end of the play, Romeo believes Juliet has committed suicide; therefore, he drinks the poison. When Juliet wakes, she finds Romeo dead and stabs herself in the heart. In the Count of Monte Cristo, Maximillien and Valentine’s love is similar due to Valentine’s betrothal and evil stepmother. The Count helps the couple escape with a plan, and the death of Max’s love is staged. The Count convinces Max to take poison, but the dose is only a sleeping pill. Max is awoken to Valentine, and the two are together again. The coinciding endings prove great similarities in the novel; however, Dumas creates a different, more satisfying ending to the novel. Charles Boyce writes, “In the romances, Shakespeare return to an idea that had been prominent in his earlier works: young lovers are united after various tribulations” (2005, pg 880). Dumas’s novel also identifies with young lovers and their obstacles. Although the forbidden loves are correlative, Count Edmond Dantes’ romances are not portrayed similarly. His relationship with Mercedes is a forbidden love, but it is not lifelong because of his sentence to prison. Once he becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, he falls in love with his slave Haydee.

Romeo and The Count. Aside from their different situations in the story, the male protagonists in the novel and the play have similar characteristics. The characters adamant perseverance to achieve their main goal is prominent throughout the works. Romeo Montague is a juvenile boy who is insistent on finding love. At the beginning of The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is a kind, young man who is in love with Mercedes. When Romeo finds Juliet, he is captivated, and he is set on breaking his family’s practices to marry her. “Dantes then spends years unjustly imprisoned in a rocky fortress before escaping to freedom”(Gliatto, 2002). Dantes is tormented with getting revenge on those who conspired against him. Romeo is able to understand the main of losing his love, and he dies. The Count realizes he is in love with Haydee, and begins to live his life without a need for vengeance. Both characters overcome their difficult experiences and are able to develop maturity.


Romeo and Juliet and The Count of Monte Cristo are compared because of their use of literary techniques and the character development. The novel and the play focus on the theme of vengeance, which is a result of hatred. The stories continue with the symbol of poison acting as the toxicity in the characters’ behaviors. Most importantly, the characters’ exhibition of traits and romance are equal in the play and novel. Alexandre Dumas used European culture to dominate his writing, and William Shakespeare remained to be the recurring allusions to his work.

Cite this page

Shakespeare vs. Dumas: Romeo and Juliet and the Count. (2022, Jan 19). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7