The role of suasion in "Les Liaisons dangereuses"

Maria Christina Bowser, Fordham University


This study elucidates the various types of suasion used by the characters of Les Liaisons dangereuses. Suasion is a constant of human nature. Individuals are always involved in some form of suasion, whether it is persuasion, negotiation, or manipulation. The study shows how the characters relate to one another, and how they use rhetoric in their letters to persuade, negotiate, and manipulate. In terms of suasion, Mme de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont are the most important protagonists in the novel. Despite constant power plays of Merteuil and Valmont, it is in their best interest to maintain their initial friendship. As the end of the novel demonstrates, they needed each other, however independent each tried to appear. Their long term understanding and communication were based upon mutual confidence and trust, which was regarded by them as very important. It allowed them successfully to manipulate the others. When trust and confidence disappeared, their relationship rapidly deteriorated. Merteuil and Valmont blindly used their powers in a narcissistic lust to dominate each other and to manipulate the lives of those around them. In the end this caused their own destruction, and the destruction of the closed society in which they lived.

Subject Area

Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Bowser, Maria Christina, "The role of suasion in "Les Liaisons dangereuses"" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9300239.