Short summary - Eugénie de Franval - Marquis de Sade

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Eugénie de Franval
Marquis de Sade

"To encourage a person to correct morals, showing him the proper path," is the reason that prompted the author to create this sad story. The wealthy and noble Franval, corrupted by his upbringing and "newfangled trends", marries the charming Mademoiselle de Farneuil. The wife worships her husband, he is "amazingly cold-blooded" towards her. Nevertheless, a year later they had a daughter, named Franval Eugenie - "at the same time the filthiest and most beautiful creation of nature."
As soon as the child was born, Franval begins to carry out his nefarious plan. He separates the baby from its mother and gives it to women who are faithful to him. At the age of seven, he hires the daughter of teachers and begins to teach her a wide variety of sciences and trains her body. Eugénie lives in accordance with the well-thought-out routine of Franval, eats only the dishes he has chosen, communicates only with him. Mother and grandmother are rarely allowed to see the girl. Despite her mother's timid protests, Franwal forbids giving her daughter the basics of religious education. On the contrary, he gradually instills in the girl his own cynical views on religion and morality and in the end completely subjugates her thoughts and will. Fourteen-year-old Eugénie loves only her “friend,” her “brother,” as Franval tells her to call herself, and hates her mother, seeing in her only an obstacle standing between her and her father.
And now Franval realizes his nefarious plan - with the full consent of Eugénie, makes her his mistress. His upbringing system is bearing fruit: Eugénie, with "tireless fervor", indulges in love with his own father. Every night the lovers indulge in a criminal passion, but they act so dexterously that the beautiful Madame de Franval is unaware of anything and is still trying with all her might to please her husband; Franval is treating her worse and worse.
The Beauty Eugénie begins to attract fans, and now a certain worthy young man asks for her hand in marriage. Madame de Franval passes on his proposal to her daughter, but she refuses and sends her mother to her father for clarification. Hearing a proposal from his wife to marry her daughter away, Franval becomes furious and, under the threat of complete separation from her daughter, forbids his wife to even think about Eugénie's marriage. The distressed Madame de Franval tells her mother about everything, and she, being more experienced in everyday affairs, begins to suspect unkindness and herself goes to her son-in-law. But she gets the same answer.
Meanwhile, Franval convinces her daughter that her mother wants to separate them, and together with Eugénie, they decide to find a lover for Madame de Farney in order to distract her attention from themselves. A certain Valmont, Franval's friend, who does not possess "moral prejudices", is ready to fulfill their request. Wanting to persuade Madame de Franval to love, Valmont tells her that her husband is cheating on her with Eugénie. Not believing his words, Madame de Franval drives out Valmont, however, seeds of doubt are sown in her soul. Having bribed the servant Eugénie, Madame de Franval is convinced of the truthfulness of Valmont's words the next night. She begs her daughter and husband to change their minds, but Franval, indifferent to her pleas, throws her down the stairs.
Madame de Franval falls seriously ill, and her mother sends her confessor Clairville to Franval, so that he may consolate her son-in-law. Claireville does not achieve the goal, and the vindictive Franval orders his servants to seize the priest and imprison him in one of his secluded castles. Then, deciding to compromise his wife without fail, Franval again turns to Valmont for assistance. For his service, he asks to show him naked Eugénie. Seeing the young beauty in the appropriate form, Valmont falls in love with her and, instead of seducing Madame de Franval, confesses to her his love for Eugénie. Wanting to break Eugénie's criminal relationship with his father, Valmont offers to kidnap the girl and marry her.
With the consent of Madame de Franval, Valmont takes Eugénie away, but Franval catches up with them and kills Valmont. Then, in order to avoid the punishment of justice, Franval flees to one of his remote castles and takes his wife and daughter with him. Upon learning that Eugénie was kidnapped with the knowledge of his wife, he decides to take revenge on Madame de Franval and instructs his daughter to poison her mother. He himself is forced to flee abroad, because he was sentenced to death. On the way, robbers attack Franval and take everything he had from him. Wounded and exhausted, Franval meets Clairville: a worthy priest managed to get out of the scoundrel's dungeons. However, full of Christian humility, Clairville is ready to help his tormentor. On the way, Franval and Clairville meet a gloomy procession - they bury Madame de Franval and Eugénie. Having poisoned her mother, Eugénie suddenly felt such burning remorse that she died overnight near her mother's cold body. Throwing himself on his wife's coffin, Franval stabs himself with a dagger. Such is the crime and "its terrible fruits" ...