The funeral service for M. and Mme de Saint Meran commences on a gloomy day in Paris. At the funeral Maximilien is introduced, via Morcerf and their other friends, to Franz. Franz has just returned to the capital, learned of the deaths of the grandparents of his intended, and also learned that he will be married to Valentine as soon as the papers can be drafted. Franz suspects nothing of Morrel’s love for Valentine, and Morrel musters all the politeness he can to shake Franz’s hand at the service.
This is another instance of dramatic irony. Morrel has grown to hate the idea of Franz, although Franz has never done anything to harm him. For his part, Franz is unaware that Morrel has been competing for the affections of the woman to whom he is engaged. The reader’s knowledge of these events and Franz’s lack of awareness of them only add to the tension that is building across various threads of the novel’s plot.
Afterward, Villefort finds Franz and asks him to come to the Villefort residence very shortly, where he will be briefed on the situation with Valentine. When Franz does arrive there, Villefort tells him that Valentine has no objections to the match, that it was the dying wish of both Villefort grandparents that Franz be married to Valentine, and that the marriage can take place that day, as soon as Franz brings along as witnesses Albert and Chauteau-Renaud. Franz agrees to all this, returns with his witnesses in thirty minutes, and the notary stands before Franz, Valentine, and the Villefort family, ready to read out the contract to be signed. Villefort’s wife, present in the corner of the room, looks especially pale during the proceedings.
Franz is ready to move forward in the marriage, and does not know that anything might be standing in his way. It is important to note that Franz and Valentine barely know one another, and that their “romance,” therefore, has been almost entirely arranged, so as to benefit both families. Villefort is largely responsible for this. Such a marriage stands in sharp contrast to the genuine romance between Young Morrel and Valentine, and to the long-ago romance that Dantes and Mercedes once shared.
The notary states, so that Franz is aware, that Villefort’s father Noirtier has put it in writing that if Valentine marries Franz, Noirtier will withdraw his will from his granddaughter. Villefort says that this will cannot be challenged in his own lifetime, even though it is technically illegal (in France, a man cannot entirely disinherit his family and give all monies to the poor)—but Franz argues that he is marrying Valentine for love, not for money, and that her noble rank is higher than his anyway.
It is striking to note that Franz believes he is marrying Valentine out of love. This is a further dramatic irony, because the reader understands that, in fact, Valentine is in love with another man, and though she wishes no harm on Franz, she does not feel any sense of love or devotion to him. Nevertheless, Franz states for those assembled that this is a marriage predicated on emotion, and not on material concerns, perhaps because he feels he must do so as a gentleman.
At this, Noirtier’s servant bursts into the room, and says that Noirtier wishes to speak with Franz alone. Franz is perfectly happy to do this, although Villefort argues that his father is selfish, doddering, and unable to reason for himself. Valentine appears greatly relieved at whatever intervention her grandfather has planned on her behalf.
As at other times in the novel, just when it appears that a situation cannot be changed, someone bursts into the room and announces that there is a special message to be received. Noirtier has again done all he can to make sure that Valentine’s wishes are fulfilled.