Why can't Valentine and Maximilian marry in The Count of Monte Cristo? What is stopping them? Is it Villefort?

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One of the objects of Dumas's withering scorn in The Count of Monte Cristo is the rigid social hierarchy of contemporary France. According to prevailing social values, it was considered unacceptable for someone to marry beneath themselves, as it were: to marry someone of a lower social class. That's the...

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One of the objects of Dumas's withering scorn in The Count of Monte Cristo is the rigid social hierarchy of contemporary France. According to prevailing social values, it was considered unacceptable for someone to marry beneath themselves, as it were: to marry someone of a lower social class. That's the situation that Valentine finds herself in with regard to Maximilian Morel. She loves Maximilian deeply and wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with him. There's just one problem: she's already pledged to Franz d'Epinay, a dashing aristocrat much higher up the social scale than Maximilian.

Nevertheless, the two lovebirds remain true to each other, despite society's prohibitions against their love. They are eventually rewarded for their constancy by marriage, a marriage upon which Monte Cristo bestows his vast fortune.

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Though Valentine is in love with Maximilian, she knows her family will not approve of her marrying someone so common.  She instead finds herself engaged to Franz d'Epinay, who is of an appropriate status.  She manages to get out of her engagement to d'Epinay when it is revealed that her grandfather killed his father in a duel.

Valentine later finds herself the victim of attempted murder by poisoning.  Following Monte Cristo's advice, she takes a pill that makes it appear as though she is dead.  Believing she is deceased, Maximilian decides to take his own life.  Monte Cristo agrees to help him in this, but really gives him a sleep-inducing potion instead.  When he awakens he finds Valentine, and discovers that the Count has made arrangements for them to be married.

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