Marquis de Sade: Madman or Genius Essay

Marquis de Sade: Madman or Genius Essay

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The Marquis de Sade was a controversial writer from the Enlightenment period. His works were highly controversial at the time although he did acquire some sort of a cult following. The Marquis de Sade uses a variety of techniques in his writing to great effect. The passage being analysed is an extract from The Philosophy of the Bedroom published in 1795.

Throughout the passage the style of writing comes across as quite argumentative and analytical, yet the content and his ideas, at the time of writing, would have been quite outrageous. He offers to `... analyse modesty...' (p. 131) giving the impression that he will go about the whole business in something of a scientific way. However, the extremeness of his ideas makes one wonder just how serious he was about it.

At another point the Marquis de Sade brings up some objections that people may have and then proceeds to break them down. He aims to `... treat these two questions separately...' (p. 134). By breaking down the argument as such, the reader is perhaps forced to consider the possibility that there is some form of logic in de Sade's thinking. It is also possible that this technique was used to add shock value, fool the reader into thinking that he has a serious argument and then shocking them all with his ideas.

There is also an odd sort of logic used by the Marquis de Sade in the first paragraph of the selected passage. He is trying to convince us that it is against man's instinct to be modest. By referring back to the state in which we were born- perhaps the most natural and untainted state for all humans- he implies that it must be wrong for men to be modest if Nature intended us to be born naked. His argument here is really quite logical when you think about ...


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...er, the use of such techniques all the time does give you the impression that perhaps even de Sade doesn't quite think that his ideas hold their weight. If they were sound ideas then shouldn't it simply be enough to state them, maybe giving some support for them. Because de Sade goes to such great lengths to give his ideas credibility it almost makes you question the writer's own belief in his ideas.

The Marquis de Sade, madman or genius? The jury's still out. As shown in the selected passage, the Marquis had an amazing ability for writing and drawing in the reader. His use of dramatic language is captivating and adds a sense of excitement to the passage. The logical layout of many of his arguments is often juxtaposed with the madness of many of his ideas. However, he writes in such a way that the reader is often drawn into his mad world without realising it.

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