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Edmond Dantes is returning to port. He is soon to become captain and his wedding to the beautiful Mercedes is about to take place. But he has yet to fulfil the promise he made to the dying captain: to deliver an envelope to a certain address.

Fernand Montego, a cousin of Mercedes who is in love with the girl and is boundlessly jealous of Dantes, the thief Caderous and Danglars agree in a tavern in the evening how to get rid of the hated Dantes: they write a denunciatory letter in which Edmond Dantes is portrayed as a supporter of Napoleon. As a result of the letter, Dantes is arrested just as the rehearsal for the wedding ceremony to be held the following day is underway. He is investigated by the Procureur de Villefort, also a man of poor character. He promises Dantes that he will be free the next day, but wants a letter from the captain. When he opens it, he finds that it is addressed to his father, a passionate Bonapartist who is plotting the Emperor's escape.

Despite his promises, the young prisoner is immediately taken to the Fort d'If and thrown into a dark dungeon. After ten years in prison, Abbé Faria, who originally wanted to dig a passage to the sea, digs his way to him from the dungeon next door. The two men go on for another four years together. When the work is almost finished, Abbé Faria, who had taught the young man all along and whom Dantes had grown very fond of, dies. Before his death, he gives Dantes a map of the place where a huge treasure is to be buried on the island of Monte Cristo. Dantes sews himself into a sack in place of the deceased and allows himself to be thrown into the sea. He manages to swim out and is rescued by two pirates. From them he learns that after his arrest his father was left destitute and eventually starved to death. Dantes vows merciless revenge on all his enemies.

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