Study Guide

The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Fifty-Six: The Old Age of Athos

By Alexandre Dumas

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Chapter Fifty-Six: The Old Age of Athos

  • Back on his own estate, Athos has been preparing for his death.
  • Since his son is gone, Athos has no incentive to lead a good example.
  • He slowly begins sleeping in and cutting back on all his exercises. He stops speaking. He tries writing to his friends, but his letters go unanswered.
  • Finally, his servants get so worried they go behind his back and get his old doctor to examine him.
  • The doctor hides and observes Athos. At one point, he can bear it no longer and goes directly up to Athos and begs him to get well. The physician sees that Athos is slowly killing himself.
  • Athos tells the doctor not to worry – he will remain alive as long as Raoul is alive. He tells the doctor that his soul is prepared; he is waiting for the signal that Raoul is dead.
  • The doctor reflects, deciding there is nothing he can do to change Athos's mind. As he leaves he tells the servants to always keep an eye on him.
  • Athos stops sleeping. Instead, he lets his mind wander in dreams.
  • One night he communicates with Raoul, who is sad to hear of Porthos's death.
  • The vision disappears and servants come running in with a letter from Aramis relating Porthos's death.
  • Athos faints from weakness.

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