The story unfolds in the form of letters written between the principal characters, giving it a unique literary texture. By using this style, de Laclos is able to give the reader a shockingly intimate look at these people as they divulge their most intimate secrets and bring to fruition their sinister plans.
The protagonists, The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, consider it their life's ambition to sadistically control and dominate those around them through sexual intrigue. These two villains are indeed locked in psychological combat to see who can actually out-do' the other in stalking, capturing and destroying the souls of others. Taking absolute pleasure in ripping any virtue from the hearts of their prey, Merteuil and Valmont wave their accomplishments in front of each other like spoils of war. The less the chance of surrender, the more relentless is the pursuit.
The story begins with the Marquise de Merteuil corresponding with Vicomte de Valmont regarding a luscious new act of revenge', as she describes it, against the Comte de Gercourt. The young Cecile de Volanges has just come home from the convent and her marriage to Gercourt has been arranged. However, before he can wed the innocent child, Merteuil proposes Valmont educate' her, thus spoiling Gercourt's fancy for untarnished convent girls. Valmont is uninterested in such an easy seduction and is far more aroused by the thought of lulling The Presidente' de Tourvel, the very epitome of virtue, into submission. And so the tale unfolds.
Valmont eventually beds the virgin Cecile in order to humor Merteuil, however, the conquest of Madam de Tourvel is his passion and he indulges in...