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 Laclos favor over the well-trained mind?

2. What else does David Coward, author of the Introduction, insist is a factor in libertine novels?

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

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

5. Why is Cécile unable to go to the opera with Merteuil?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Who is Merteuil's "knight," and what does she think of him?

4. Describe Cécile's relationship with Merteuil.

5. What was Choderlos de Laclos' position in society? Describe his family life.

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

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

8. How does Merteuil respond to Valmont's warning?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following 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

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 3

Examine the uses of irony throughout the novel. Your discussion may include: instances of satire, for instance of contemporary literary works or public figures; anything from the sarcastic tone often taken by Merteuil and Valmont in their letters to each other; the many instances of figurative language in the text such as puns and double entendres; the instances of certain characters' hypocrisy or denial; or the dramatic irony through which the reader or character knows something that another character does not. How does Laclos achieve irony? What language, tone, and style of writing indicate irony in the text? How do certain situations where characters find themselves tend toward the ironic?

(see the answer keys)

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