Monsieur Grandet is a very rich man whose chief care is his gold. He runs his household with exacting miserly attention and his wife and daughter suffer a Spartan existence. On the evening of his daughter Eugénie's 23rd birthday his foppish nephew Charles suddenly arrives from Paris. Eugénie has never known passion, but now, in an instant, she falls in love. Monsieur Grandet will not countenance his daughter's marriage to her penniless cousin.