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 does Madame de Volanges say about Valmont to Madame de Tourvel in letter 9?

2. How does Valmont make sure that Madame de Tourvel will read his first letter?

3. What literary tradition does Coward see as applicable?

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

5. What does Valmont ask Madame de Tourvel to do in letter 35?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Valmont's response to Merteuil's affair with Danceny.

2. What is the general content of the letter Azolan, Valmont's valet, writes to Valmont?

3. Describe Madame de Tourvel's dictated, unaddressed letter which Madame de Volanges sends to Madame de Rosemonde.

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

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

6. Describe Merteuil's end in the novel.

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

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

9. What is the reward Valmont claims from Merteuil, and how does Merteuil respond to this?

10. How does the Publisher's Foreword introduce the novel?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Think of the form of this work is an epistolary novel. Do the letters themselves symbolize anything? Danceny writes in letter 150 that "a letter is the portrait of the soul." What does it mean to correspond with another person, and how is it carried out? How does reading an epistolary influence your experience with communication, character relationships, people, dialogue, and so on in a novel? Do the letters serve any purpose besides as a vehicle to express the plot of the novel?

Essay Topic 3

Analyze the changes in Cecile's character throughout the novel. What characteristics define her in the beginning, middle, and end of the story? Closely analyze Cécile's letters to Sophie, looking for language and phrasing which indicates how she feels about her relationships with others. This includes her thoughts on marriage, her relationship with her mother, her feelings for Danceny, and her friendship with Merteuil. How does her language and her style of writing help define Cécile's character? Why does she stop writing to Sophie? Why is Cécile's voice almost completely absent through the last portions of the novel? What does this conspicuous absence say about her identity, or lack thereof? What control, if any, does Cécile retain over her own life? How does she use this control, or how do others (specifically Valmont) control her?

(see the answer keys)

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