Marquis de Sade: Madman or Genius

Marquis de Sade: Madman or Genius
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 it, and could perhaps have been used to sway those who had already begun to question the authorities.

Throughout the passage de Sade uses quite dramatic language to engage the reader. There is talk of freedom and captivity, and of demolishing amongst other dramatic words. It is quite captivating to read and you get caught up not necessarily in what he is saying, but how he is saying it. At the same time you can?t help but absorb even a little of what de Sade is trying to convey. This technique would have been quite helpful to de Sade as the church was still a highly respected and perhaps feared body at the time, yet he attacks it. However, readers may put up with such scandalous ideas as he wrote about them in such an exciting and engaging manner.

There is also a use of repetition in the Marquis de Sade?s passage, which serves to emphasis and highlight his points. Words like extinguish and vent appear in the passage on occasion. These words seem to conjure up images and ideas of extreme heat, in de Sade?s view probably caused by sexual passion. He urges people to `?vent on the objects?? (p. 132) and basically not to bottle things up. Heated and passionate language is often used in what may be an attempt to arouse the audience. It also draws attention to de Sade?s preoccupation with sex.

The words lusts and desires are also repeated on occasion, drawing attention to the erotic nature of the passage. This emphasises the point that de Sade is trying to make about sexual attraction being natural. By constantly using those words we get the sense that these feelings may be beyond our control. If we lust after or desire something or someone it gives the impression that it is a natural impulse or instinct and something which we shouldn?t try to suppress or feel ashamed about. It is something that de Sade continually refers to, the naturalness of sexual desire and attraction. He also focus? on society?s priority to try and suppress these feelings.

The Marquis de Sade also makes reference to old and ancient cultures and societies- Lycurgus and Solon, the Romans and the Greeks all get a mention and are used in support of his ideas. By mentioning these ancient societies, which were quite highly thought of and studied at the time, it almost gives some sort of authority to de Sade?s argument. However, 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.

Marquis de Sade: Madman or Genius 7.8 of 10 on the basis of 1387 Review.