Les Liaisons Dangereuses Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What is the first action Valmont takes to make Madame de Tourvel look favorably upon him?

2. What ruse does Valmont use to attempt to secretly rifle through Madame de Tourvel's letters?

3. What has Merteuil tricked Cécile into doing?

4. What is a "little house?"

5. What does Danceny refuse to do, despite Madame de Volanges' request?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Cécile's relationship with Merteuil.

2. What subterfuge does Valmont suggest to Cécile in order to get Danceny's letters to her?

3. Summarize Bertrand's letters to Madame de Rosemonde.

4. How does Madame de Tourvel respond to Valmont's first love letter?

5. What does Valmont essentially tell Merteuil about their relationship with each other in letter 15?

6. What is Merteuil's next plan for seduction? How does Valmont react?

7. Describe what Valmont does when he gets the key to Cécile's room.

8. What were Laclos' general views on politics and gender relations?

9. What are Merteuil and Valmont's plans for Danceny and Cécile at the beginning of Part II?

10. What are the general contents of Valmont's love letters to Madame de Tourvel?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Examine the aspect of Valmont's character that has to do with his feelings for Madame de Tourvel and his feelings for Merteuil. What does he profess to feel for them both, and what does it seem that he actually feels? How does he use language and tone to express these feelings to them and about them? What do his actions around each woman, or having to do with each woman, say about his real feelings for them? Discuss this aspect of Valmont's character as a function of the tension between public and private morality and persona.

Essay Topic 2

Define "pornography" and "erotica." How are they alike and/or different? Is there a central issue which divides the two, or are they essentially the same thing? What is their purpose and meaning or implication in popular culture, both to the private person and to society at large? Does _Les Liasons Dangereuses_ count as erotica or pornography, or both, or neither? Why? How do you describe Valmont's and Merteuil's sexual exploits as revealed in letters 10, 47, 71, and 79? Do these letters offer detail about feelings, desires, sexual acts, and body parts in lurid detail, or does the text dance around the issues by only alluding to them and making puns and double entendres? What about these letters might shock or offend a moral or virtuous reader, either in the 18th century or today? What could be the reasons that Valmont and Merteuil enjoy writing such letters to one another? Can writing be erotic without actually referring directly to sexual acts, to the human body, or to specific desires? For example, close-read letter 48, in which Valmont describes to Madame de Tourvel his passion for her, but the letter plays a joke on her by referring to Valmont's night of sex with Émilie in letter 47.

Essay Topic 3

Does Merteuil and Valmont's relationship through letter writing become a stand-in for having a real sexual relationship, or even being in love? What is the significance of them never meeting face-to-face within the confines of the book? Does Merteuil subtly seduce Valmont through the entire novel? What does she lead him to believe? What promise or contract between them does Valmont continually remind her of? How does their sexual tension contribute to the breaking of their relationship late in the novel? How does their relationship change throughout the course of the novel?

(see the answer keys)

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