The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
The novel, ‘The Three Musketeers’, is one of the invaluable gems in the treasury of literature. The author was Alexandre Dumas Pere (1802-1870). He was a French writer who became famous for his historical novels such as The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Vicomte de Bragelonne. Though his novels were based on historical characters, the incidents which were portrayed in them are mostly fictional. In the novel ‘The Three Musketeers’, he takes the readers on a fantasy ride that includes adventure, romance, tragedy, intrigues and comedy. This novel has been adapted for movies several times.
The main core of the novel ‘The Three Musketeers’, is a young man named d’Artagnan who leaves home for Paris to fulfill his dream of becoming a musketeer. So, the three musketeers are his friends namely Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Their popular motto is “One for all, and all for one”.
The Journey to Paris
The journey to Paris begins with a disaster for d’Artagnan, when he disputes with a mysterious man with scar face in an inn. The assaulted and bleeding d’Artagnan later realizes that the mysterious man has stolen his introduction letter given by his father. However, d’Artagnan reaches Paris and tries to fulfill his dream. But having lost his father’s letter, he is not well received at the musketeers’ office. The funniest situation arises, when d’Artagnan engages in duel on the same day with the three musketeers named Athos, Porthos and Aramis. While dueling with Athos, the Cardinal Richelieu’s (the main antagonist character in this novel) guards try to arrest them. This results into uniting the three musketeers and d’Artagnan together to scatter the guards away. This incident makes the three musketeers to accept d’Artagnan as their friend. Later d’Artagnan joins as a soldier in the Royal Guard to serve the king Louis XIII.
He falls in love at first sight when he meets Constance Bonacieux, pretty young wife of an aging landlord. Then, he finds out that she is also a confidant to the queen of France, ‘Anne of Austria’. Constance and d’Artagnan help the queen to meet the English Prime Minister, the Duke of Buckingham with whom the queen has an affair. The queen gives the diamond jewels, presented to her by her husband, to her lover. The Cardinal Richelieu’s spies inform about this to him. On hearing this, he plots against the queen and then insists the King to invite the Queen to a ball where he can reveal her affair with the Duke of Buckingham on the account of missing diamond jewels. However, d’Artagnan and his friends come to know about Cardinal’s plot and succeed in retrieving the jewels back to the queen just in time and thus, saving her from dishonor. Impressed by the loyalty and bravery of d’Artagnan, the Cardinal invites him to join his own corps but d’Artagnan turns down the offer.
For rejecting his offer, the vengeful Cardinal kidnaps Constance. While in a vain effort to find her, d’Artagnan encounters an irresistible but a mysterious woman named Milady de Winter. At the beginning, he falls into the trap set by her but a letter of hers that reveals about her real lover alerts him. While being with her in the disguise of her real lover, he finds out another shocking truth about her that she is a felon. He also realizes that she is the deserted wife of Athos. Meanwhile, the king orders his guards to report to the duty near La Rochelle where the siege is about to take place. During the siege, Milady attempts several times to kill d’Artagnan but fails. In one such attempt, one of the two assassins gives the valuable tip about her meeting place. In the mean time, d’Artagnan learns that his beloved Constance is in a safe hideout with the help of the queen.
The Plot of Assassination
The three musketeers go to Milady’s meeting place and accidentally overhear the conversation between the Cardinal and Milady. Thus they come to know about the plot of assassinating the Duke of Buckingham. Once the Cardinal leaves, Athos confronts Milady and easily takes the blanket pardon document from her given by the Cardinal. When the four friends meet again, Athos hands over the document to d’Artagnan and advises him to keep it for his own use when the time comes. With the help of Count de Winter (Brother-in-law of Milady), they manage to save the life of the Duke of Buckingham. And Milady put into prison in a seaside castle.
During the siege of La Rochelle, the Cardinal once again admires the courage of d’Artagnan and suggests to admitting him to the musketeers. Thus the greatest dream of d’Artagnan, becoming a musketeer comes true. As a bonus, finally the queen discloses about the hideout of Constance and d’Artagnan departs for that hideout place with his friends. In England, not only Milady manages to escape from the prison but also seduces the guard named Felton to assassinate the Duke of Buckingham, thus fulfilling the mission of the Cardinal. After arriving in France, Milady hides in the same place where Constance is hiding. Knowing the true identity of Constance, Milady leaves the place before d’Artagnan arrives but not before poisoning Constance. And poor Constance dies in the arms of her beloved d’Artagnan.
With the Count de Winter, d’Artagnan and his friends search for Milady, trapping her in an isolated house on the banks of the Lys River. By their side, a mysterious man in a red cloak appears whom Athos brings along with. The six noblemen hold Milady on several charges. In the midst of the trial, the mysterious man in a red cloak introduces himself as the executioner of Lillie. Then he tells Milady’s early history filled with lust and treachery that cost the life of his priest brother. After the completion of her trial, the executioner beheads Milady.
After the execution of Milady, the four friends return to La Rochelle. Near La Rochelle, they encounter the Count of Rochefort who had insulted and stolen the introduction letter from d’Artagnan in the inn. The Count of Rochefort arrests and presents d’Artagnan in front of the Cardinal. The Cardinal tells d’Artagnan about his charges; mostly flimsy ones. D’Artagnan tells the entire truth and reveals the real background of Milady. He also admits about the execution of Milady to the Cardinal and then presents the blanket pardon document in order to legalize his actions. The Cardinal, once again impressed by d’Artagnan’s bravery, offers a lieutenant’s commission with the musketeers. Also he asks both d’Artagnan and Rochefort to be on good terms.
This novel ends with the three musketeers refusing the offer of lieutenant’s commission and retiring from the army. Athos goes back to his estate, Porthos settles himself down by marrying a rich widow and Aramis becomes a priest.
When we go on reading this novel, we notice several facts about then Europe, especially France. The comedy of having duel with three persons on the same day actually reveals the madness of killing each other in the name of honor. The affair between the queen of France and the Duke of Buckingham or between d’Artagnan and Constance reflects the condition of morality that was present in most of then Europe. This novel also discloses the dangers to the kings and noblemen through which they have to spend their entire lives. We also come to know about what was actually happening at that time inside the palaces of Europe i.e. intrigues, assassination, treachery, adultery etc.
Characters in The Three Musketeers
If we come to the characters which are portrayed in this novel, we notice one thing, especially about the three musketeers. They happen to be very close friends but each one of them has unique and opposite personality compared to each other. For Athos, he is a reserved, prudent and sober person. For Porthos, he is a fun loving, humorous and romantic person. And finally for Aramis, he is a god-fearing but at the same time having affairs with many women, well mannered person. So many differences among them, but the bond of friendship ties them together. The confident, daring, adventurous, and loyal personality of d’Artagnan is the one that any woman would seek out in men. The Cardinal Richelieu’s personality naturally makes anyone to hate him, but at the same time, it makes one to admire his intelligent moves, generosity and his loyalty to France. The personality of Milady makes us to believe that such kind of a person could exist on earth. The character of Felton easily reveals the weakness of men.
However, the three musketeers again meet d’Artagnan in the novel ‘Twenty Years After’ and the life of d’Artagnan ends in the novel ‘The Vicomte de Bragelonne’. Hence, these three novels are together known as the D’Artagnan Romances.