Mar 31, 09
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.