Catherine's Reviews > Les Liaisons dangereuses

Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos d...
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Mar 23, 2009

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Read in March, 2009

Having read this and seen two film versions, I have to say I'm disappointed by society's response to the Marquise de Marteuil's role in the events. She is vilified while the Vicomte de Valmont, who is just as guilty, is forgiven apparently because he confesses all just before his death following a duel. What makes the Marquise's guilt so great that she is shunned in society and eventually has to leave the country? She encouraged certain events but in the end did not cause them--that was for Valmont to do. And he felt himself such a pawn when some of his greatest crimes were his own idea. The movie adaptations equally blame the Marquise, which reveals society's double standard when it comes to women. The Marquise behaved as she did so that she had the greatest amount of power and influence, as a woman, but was still able to enjoy her sexual exploits as men did and do. She was ultimately condemned because her status and gender required that if she wanted to live in the best society but still revel in her own sexuality and feminine power, she had to do things behind closed doors without the benefit of confession and forgiveness that was granted to Valmont. She is stripped of everything, from dignity to finances, because Valmont betrayed her on his death bed for the simple reason that he was angry that the Marquise rejected him after he willingly sacrificed another woman's health and sanity so that the Marquise would consent to have sex with him. How does that make him better than the Marquise? How does what happened to the Presidente become the Marquise's fault when Valmont started and finished the whole affair on his own? It's something to think about.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by ViscountValmont (last edited Sep 30, 2009 06:35AM) (new)

ViscountValmont What a god awful interpretation. First, let's start with Valmont's supposed "forgiveness" you speak of. No, he wasn't. What he DID do was apparently win their little war by implicating her, along with himself, in their heinous acts by publicly admitting to them. However, his one redeaming quality was that he LOVED. But that's neither here nor there, because he wasn't forgiven. And at any rate, the Marquise still lives on in another country with all her wealth (though physically deformed by sickness). Second, Merteuil's choice for doing things behind closed doors is just that, a CHOICE. It's part of her game to be clandestine about everything. And as for only "encouraging" certain events... How about the Prevan incident? Did she not outright lie and cry rape to ruin him for no apparent reason other than the enjoyment of his embarassment and downfall from society? And lastly, IT WAS Merteuil's desire that Tourvel be destroyed physically and mentally. She admits it. It is part of "her greatest triumph," which included Valmont, but no less Tourvel either. And I guess, IF there is any forgiveness for Valmont, it would be, like I already said- love... But also, his honesty and eventual sacrifice toward his own death that made him appear to have some redemption. Albeit that it was actually a revenge tactic, and an escape from the pain he felt for Tourvel, it was still somewhat seen in the public eye as a sacrifice for honor. But I still don't think there was much forgiving. Merteuil makes no apologies for anything she's done, and loves no one. And while Valmont is a willing participant in all these acts, revelling in them, there is something to be said for why "masterminds" are considered guiltier than accomplices. A man who hires a hitman generally gets more prison time, even though he never murdered anyone. As for the double standard thing... I'm sooo tired of this argument. We all get it, women wanna be able to fuck around like scamps and be thought of as cool. But you wanna know something? I'm EQUALLY tired, if not more so, of the double standard about the "inherent traits" of women. Women are more "innocent" and therefore try to use that to get what they want. Women claim coercion in the face of being caught, and it's crap. Women are every bit as violent as men are, and the stats prove it. And it's entirely okay for a woman to go seducing for whatever means she desires. Be it money, power, position, or just plain fun in most cases. For the thrill, for the ego boost, just to prove they can manipulate. That's all good and well for a woman to do. But watch a man do those things and it's an embarassment. For a man to seduce for money, power, position is considered "dis-honorable" or beneath him. And for a man to claim coerced innocence- an unwitting pawn, OR, god forbid, RAPE... Don't get me started. It's widely regarded that men "can't" get raped, because you can't rape the willing. I know many men that have had some desperate bitch grope and suck on them while passed out, and feel violated, only to have people outright laugh at him when they find out. It disgusts me. So please, drop the tired old tune on "double standards." Nowadays, you girls can tramp around all you please. And if you happen to catch a "slut" thrown at you every once and a while, IT ISN'T LIKE IT STOPS YOU, IS IT? These generalizations don't apply across the board for either gender. But for the sake of argument, I assumed they do to make my point. Just as, I am very much a promiscuous person. I've been with over 150 women. AND I REGULARLY GET RIDICULE, from both genders, because of it. But, that's the price I pay for yielding to my desires, isn't it? Yes. And it's a willing price I pay. So, I'm sorry, but get over it. Merteuil was a powerful woman. Arguably the most powerful character in the book. Be glad that in the 18th century, A MAN had the moxy to write and openly create such a character, even at his personal reputive expense... While his contemporaries were still (and would continue to for another 100 years) describing women as WEAK, FEEBLE-MINDED, SIMPLETONS!

message 2: by isa (new) - rated it 5 stars

isa don't ever associate yourself with the name valmont again if all you're going to do is spread mra bullshit. you're a disgrace to the title

Cecily Duffie I completely agree! I've always felt that way, which is why I'm working on a sequel which I feel does the unquenchable Marquise justice.

message 4: by isa (new) - rated it 5 stars

isa Cecily, I am more ready for this than anything on Earth. Have you read Philippa Stockley's "A Factory of Cunning"? It's much in the same vein.

Cecily Duffie I have, and I had a completely different concept of how things should be. Why would the Marquise go right to the same behavior that got her in so much trouble? And I can't believe such a brilliant woman could ever fall so far.

message 6: by isa (new) - rated it 5 stars

isa I feel like the Marquise's behavior stems largely from boredom, which, given that she's just moved to England, doesn't make much sense. It does seem to be a pretty viable form of social climbing, though ;)
And I completely agree about her falling; while I greatly preferred the escape to "she lost all her money and went to the countryside and then she got SMALLPOX and is DISFIGURED FOREVER!!!!!1!1!!!!1!1!", I would have been much more interested to see her continue on in some semblance of nobility, particularly on the cusp of the Revolution.

Cecily Duffie You'll be thrilled with my book then :)

Thais I couldn't agree with you more. Disfigurement? Really? How is the Marquise responsible for what happened to Valmont? So Danceny reacted the way he did because Valmont "befriended" Cecile (to whom D was being unfaithful), and the blame is on the Marquise, who told him everything? I'm sure the book accurately depicted the society of its time, and something similar might still happen today. But I have to say that the ending greatly diminished my enjoyment.

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