Sunday, 30 June 2013
When I started reading this book I felt sympathetic towards the Marquise de Merteuil; she was acting in a way to readdress the power between genders. Society forced women to act with reserve and great virtue and 'make a good match in marriage' if they wanted to be accepted. Men, like Valmont and Prevan, could have love affairs and escape with a reputation that may be marked but they would still be accepted in society, however, the women they bed would be ruined, forced to hide themselves from the public snubs.
I read the Marquise de Merteuil's letters and thought that although she may be a touch harsh in her judgements, it was perhaps, understandable how her upbringing had caused that. As the book progressed, it becomes more apparent how cruel the Marquise can be. Not only does she have no sympathies for her fellow women, she also torments her past-lover and confident, the Vicomte de Valmont. In the end she pushes people too far and realises the consequences. I wonder if, when this happens, she remembers writing to Valmont:
If my revenge misses the mark, I agree to taking the consequences. Thus, I am quite prepared for you to try everything you can: I even invite you to do so, and promise not to be annoyed when you succeed, if you succeed. I am so easy on this score, that I shall press the point no further. Let us talk of other things.