Justine and its companion piece Juliette are very much devoted to philosophy and the changing society at the time of the French Revolution. Sade was publicly critical of the Reign of Terror, the death penalty, and the tyranny of the Jacobins like Maximillien Robespierre who led the state, and Napoleon afterwards when he became Emperor. Sade's open criticism of the ruling powers was at least as much at fault for his long periods in jail as his pornography.
Justine is the champion of the virtues of the past - chastity, generosity, purity of spirit. The powerful figures that she encounters use her in the most abominable ways imaginable, for their only philosophy is "might makes right", and they thus believe that they may please themselves as they will without regard to the suffering of others. Again and again she is made to suffer, but her unshakeable faith carries her through it all. Justine is the Catholic proletariat ground beneath the heels of the self-serving aristocracy/clergy/bourgeoisie, brought up in the old virtues and belief in the afterlife which are used to control the minds of the masses.
Juliette is the woman of the Enlightenment who embraces the world as it is and takes her destiny into her own hands, rather than submitting to being down-trodden like her sister Justine. She is the glimpse of what is possible if the masses will throw off the mental chains of the past and accept the views of the Enlightenment.
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