YMMV / Marquis de Sade

  • Historical Villain Downgrade: De Sade is often depicted in fiction and historical rhetoric as a harmless fantasist who was persecuted for his writings. However, he appears to have genuinely acted on the same impulses his characters expressed. Most of his repeated imprisonments were for raping and torturing prostitutes and servants, some of whom were seriously injured, and he got off lightly because he was a nobleman. Despite his notoriety, these crimes are rarely mentioned when his name comes up and there is even an attempt to rehabilitate his name, claiming he was an important liberal thinker with progressive attitudes. Like all people, De Sade was complex, so this might be true somewhat on a few issues—he opposed capital punishment, for instance—but his view on women (as seen in his writings) was retrograde even in his time; he deemed them naturally subject to men, to the point that they should be open for sex whenever a man desired it. His "individualism" thus stretched to the point of more or less "anything goes" (for men).
  • Hollywood Atheist: All atheist characters in De Sade's novels despise religion (some while being clergy members themselves), are uniformly sexual sadists/serial killers, and feel that individuals should be allowed to do whatever they desire, murder and rape included, because it's natural for them. This reflects De Sade's own view of things, and he himself was imprisoned and committed to an insane asylum for the sexual abuse of prostitutes and his own servants, along with writing the aforementioned books.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Eugénie raping her mother and sewing her genitals shut after having her infected with syphilis.
  • Nausea Fuel: Copious amounts of it. The 120 Days of Sodom is the most notorious in this regard, but almost all of Sade's works have content that can easily turn a reader's stomach.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The 120 Days of Sodom: At first it's just Nausea Fuel. Then you get to the gorn. Which includes rape, torture, sodomy, and killing of innocents in most brutal ways. What's worse, it was made into one of the most challenging films of all time, similar in notoriety to Cannibal Holocaust and Men Behind the Sun.
  • The Woobie: The title character of Justine, a sweet, kind girl who just wants to be good, but suffers utter hell because of it. Everyone she meets who doesn't want to beat and/or rape her wants to do something even worse to her, and usually gets to do it. The high point of this story is her recounting of how at the age of twelve, she asked for shelter in a man's house and was told that she could only stay if she would have sex with him. She gets screamed at by the person she talks about this to for being a "parasite" that wanted something for nothing. And it does not get better for her.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/MarquisDeSade