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 event does Madame de Volanges' sudden illness threaten?

2. Who does Valmont trick to spend time with the Vicomtesse de M?

3. How does Coward recommend the novel should be criticized?

4. Whom does Merteuil want to manipulate into a relationship with Cécile?

5. What advice does Valmont give to Madame de Tourvel?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Cécile describe her feelings about Danceny to Sophie in letter 55?

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

3. What subterfuge does Valmont use to come into possession of Madame de Tourvel's letters?

4. Describe Cécile de Volanges.

5. Describe Cécile's relationship with Merteuil.

6. What serious warning does Valmont give Merteuil?

7. How does Valmont describe Madame de Tourvel?

8. What action does Valmont take to make Madame de Tourvel love him, and what are the results?

9. What does Merteuil suggest, in different forms, to Cécile and Valmont?

10. What does the author of the Introduction say is particularly engaging about Laclos' use of the epistolary form?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Analyze Merteuil's relationship with Cécile. What does the older woman do to influence the younger woman? How does Merteuil define Cécile? What are Merteuil's motivations in making Cécile her "protégé?" How does Merteuil manipulate and control Cécile's life and her personal character in ways both visible and invisible to Cécile, to her mother, and to Danceny? Use evidence from Cécile's letters to and about Merteuil, and Merteuil's letters to and about Cécile, to support your arguments.

Essay Topic 2

Examine the role of servants, doctors, confessors, and others of lower social standing as they seem in the novel. Do these barely visible characters have a voice, or any agency? What portions of the plot do they fill? Are there differences in Laclos' presentation of them through their letters, or through their reported interactions with more vocal characters? What potentially political role could they have in the novel--that is, can one interpret their presence, or lack thereof, as opposed to the presence and characterization of the high-society characters, as a political statement? How do members of the upper-class treat, speak to, or refer to members of the servant and lower classes?

Essay Topic 3

Consider the theme of women's sexuality in _Les Liaisons Dangereuses_. How is desire, in particular, expressed in the female characters? How do Cécile's, Merteuil's, and Madame de Tourvel's different experiences with sex, rape, seduction, courtship, initiation, and betrayal affect their character development, their roles in the plot of the novel, and their interactions with other male and female characters? What connections to contemporary French ideas of morality and gender roles do the sexuality of the female characters have? How is feminine sexual awareness or sexual activity opposed to masculine sexual awareness or sexual activity? How do other characters, or contemporary French high society, view women who are sexually experienced? Can you apply modern feminist critical theory to this discussion?

(see the answer keys)

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