The Marquise de Merteuil

The toast of all Paris, considered wise and chaste, though she has had more lovers than most professionals, until she enters into an unsavory deal with her former lover the Vicomte de Valmont. He must provide her with written proof that he has seduced the religious Présidente de Tourvel before she will sleep with him again. By the end of the novel, the Marquise's tendency to enjoy intrigue before love gets her into trouble, and she is revealed as the schemer she is.

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The Vicomte de Valmont

A rich playboy, who was at one time the Marquise de Merteuil's lover and confidant. Valmont seduces Cécile Volanges and falls in love with the Présidente de Tourvel over the course of the novel. Like all players, he meets an unhappy end, dying in a duel with the Chevalier Danceny.

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The Présidente de Tourvel (in some English editions, Madame de Tourvel)

The chaste and religious wife of a member of Parliament. She is seduced by, and falls in love with, the Vicomte de Valmont. She dies of grief when the Vicomte de Valmont leaves her.

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Cécile Volanges

A young girl, fresh out of the convent at the beginning of the novel. Cécile is preyed upon by Merteuil and Valmont. She also falls in love with the Chevalier Danceny. She is promised in marriage to the Comte de Gercourt, until it is discovered that she is no longer a virgin, thanks to Valmont, at which point she is forced to return to the convent.

Madame Volanges

The mother of Cécile, who arranges an advantageous marriage for her daughter and lives a respectable life. She corresponds frequently with the Présidente de Tourvel.

The Chevalier Danceny

The singing and harp teacher of Cécile Volanges. The Chevalier Danceny becomes the pet of the Marquise de Merteuil and the student of Valmont. Along the way, he falls in love with Cécile. He ends by killing Valmont in a duel over Cécile's honor.

Madame de Rosemonde

The aunt of the Vicomte de Valmont. Madame de Rosemonde invites a lot of people to stay with her at her country estate. She also corresponds with, and offers advice to, the Présidente de Tourvel when the Présidente is having difficulties with Valmont.

The Comte de Gercourt

Madame Volanges has promised to marry Cécile to the Comte de Gercourt. However, he is with the army in Corsica during the events of the novel.

Sophie Carnay

A friend Cécile made during the time she was in the convent. Sophie continues to live among the nuns, though she is able to take time out to write to Cécile from time to time. Sophie's letters are not included in the novel, but we can imagine that they contain plenty of warnings and advice, the work of a traditional, devout, and extremely naïve, young girl.


The valet of the Vicomte de Valmont. Azolan is often required to offer bribes and sleep with other servants to get information for his master.


The Marquise de Merteuil's chambermaid. Victoire has been known to dress as a footman on occasion to participate in various romantic dramas as a messenger or a doorman.


A courtesan favored by Valmont. Emilie makes a brief appearance in letter forty-seven, where it is reported that her naked body has served as the writing desk.

The Intendante

Valmont's former lover. The Intendante, took up with the Comte de Gercourt directly after their break-up. The Marquise de Merteuil suggests that Valmont should seduce Cécile, Gercourt's intended bride, to revenge himself against Gercourt.

The Chevalier de Belleroche

The Marquise de Merteuil's lover. In her letters it is sometimes easy to confuse him with the Chevalier Danceny, though she will always refer to Belleroche as, "my Chevalier."

The Comtesse de B__

Valmont's former lover, whose estate he visits before returning to that of Madame de Rosemonde to pursue Tourvel and Cécile Volanges.


The lover of the Comtesse de B__.


One night at a dinner party, Prévan brags that he can seduce the Marquise de Merteuil within Valmont's earshot. Valmont informs the Marquise, and she sets about ruining Prévan.


The Présidente de Tourvel's maidservant.

Father Anselme

The Présidente de Tourvel's confessor and the priest who arranges for Valmont to meet with Tourvel after she has refused to see him anymore.