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Dangerous Liaisons

Pierre Ambroise Laclos

Part Four, Exchange Fifteen: Letters 165–175

Part Four, Exchange Fourteen: Letters 150–164

About Letters

Summary

The Présidente de Tourvel is dead, Madame Volanges writes to Madame de Rosemonde in Letter One Hundred and Sixty-Five.

Madame de Rosemonde's lawyer writes Letter One Hundred and Sixty-Six to her to inform her that it might not be a good idea to take legal action against Danceny for the murder of Valmont, since in doing so serious evidence against Valmont would certainly be brought to light.

An anonymous author composes a letter (Letter One Hundred and Sixty-Seven) to Danceny to inform him that since he is likely to be prosecuted for Valmont's death, he should keep a low profile for a few days.

Meanwhile, Madame Volanges informs Madame Rosemonde (Letter One Hundred and Sixty-Eight) that extremely unflattering rumors have been circulating about the Marquise de Merteuil. Also, Merteuil's letters are making the rounds in Paris.

Danceny writes to Madame Rosemonde (Letter One Hundred and Sixty-Nine) to send her the correspondence from Merteuil to Valmont, with the special intention that Prévan be found innocent of the Marquise's accusations against him.

In Letter One Hundred and Seventy, Madame de Volanges tells Madame de Rosemonde that her daughter has run away to become a nun. Now she must think of something to tell the Comte de Gercourt to explain what happened to his bride- to-be when he gets back into town.

Letter One Hundred and Seventy-one from Madame de Rosemonde to the Chevalier Danceny is an expression of shared grief over the contents of the letter Danceny sent her earlier. She makes the additional request that Danceny send her all the letters he received from Cécile.

Madame de Rosemonde next writes to Madame Volanges (Letter One Hundred and Seventy-two) to tell her to beware of the Marquise de Merteuil.

In Letter One Hundred and Seventy-three to Madame de Rosemonde, Madame Volanges worries that her daughter was indiscrete with Danceny. She also describes how the Marquise de Merteuil was publicly humiliated at the opera after all of society had learned about her letters.

Danceny writes to Madame de Rosemonde (Letter One Hundred and Seventy-Four) to regret the evil in society that must have corrupted Cécile.

Finally, Madame de Volanges composes a letter to Madame de Rosemonde (Letter One Hundred and Seventy-five) to describe the fate of the Marquise de Merteuil. It seems that in the end she came down with smallpox, was horribly disfigured, was bankrupted by her lawsuit, and forced to flee to Holland.

Analysis

This final section is the denouement and strangely, move slowly, without all the usual literary flair and circumlocution that we have grown accustomed to with the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont's correspondence. With the two of them out of commission, the world is bound to become a much more honest and plainspoken place. The point of this series of letters is essentially to make ends meet in terms of the plot; and to clear up questions about what became of the Marquise de Merteuil, the Vicomte de Valmont, and the Présidente de Tourvel after they were no longer able to write each other letters. Despite the incredibly realistic narrative style of Dangerous Liaisons in general, in conclusion its action is very neatly tied up. Just as Cécile was leaving the convent at the beginning of the novel, so she is sent back into seclusion at the end—all in a very elegant circle.

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