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. How do today's readers of Laclos interpret his novel?

2. In his other writings, what view did Laclos take of women?

3. In letter 20, what does Merteuil promise Valmont upon the success of his seduction of Madame de Tourvel?

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

5. What does Merteuil do to get herself in the mood for sex with her lover?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. How does Cécile feel about Danceny's first letter?

4. What defines or designates the "libertine" literary tradition?

5. What does the Editor state in the Editor's Preface?

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

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

8. Summarize Prévan's "legendary" feat of seduction according to Valmont.

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

10. What does the author of the Introduction say about potential political messages of social commentary in Laclos' novel?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Discuss the types of mediation present in the novel. This could include: characters who mediate other characters' thoughts, actions, and feelings; the "editor" of the novel mediating the reader's interaction with the story by his arrangement of letters and placement and wording of notes; and plot itself being mediated through the letters. In some instances, the plot twists back upon itself, repeats itself, or offered through different perspectives. What is the effect and significance of such mediation on the themes, symbolism, character development, and the response of the reader?

Essay Topic 3

Compare and contrast the different writing styles of various main characters: Cécile, Danceny, Valmont, Merteuil, Madame de Tourvel, Madame de Rosemonde, and Madame de Volanges. Are any character's style or styles of writing distinct in any way? What type of language, or what tone, is most associated with each character? To what subjects do these characters refer in their letters? How do their styles of writing contribute to the development of their characters? How do their different styles of writing contribute to the "theatricality" of the novel, to its pace, and to the audience's perception of the work?

(see the answer keys)

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