Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When Cécile de Volanges is fifteen years old, her mother removes her from a convent in preparation for the girl’s marriage to the Comte de Gercourt. The match is arranged by Madame de Volanges without her daughter’s knowledge. Shortly after her departure from the convent, Cécile begins an exchange of letters with Sophie Carnay, her close friend. Cécile has few contacts with her fashionable mother except for trips they make together to shops to purchase an elaborate wardrobe. The little she knows about the plans for her future she learns from her maid.
The unscrupulous Marquise de Merteuil sees in the proposed marriage an opportunity to get revenge on Gercourt, who some time before deserted her for a woman of greater virtue. In her wounded vanity, she schemes to have the Vicomte de Valmont, a libertine as unscrupulous as herself, effect a liaison between Cécile and the Chevalier Danceny. Such an affair, circulated by gossip after Cécile and Gercourt are married, will make the husband a laughingstock of the fashionable world. To complete her plan for revenge, the marquise also wants Valmont to seduce Madame de Tourvel, the woman for whom Gercourt abandoned her. Madame de Tourvel is the wife of a judge. As a reward for carrying out these malicious schemes, the Marquise de Merteuil promises to reinstate Valmont as her own lover.
Valmont is able to arrange a meeting between Cécile and Danceny. Although she is attracted to the young man,...
(The entire section is 1228 words.)
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