Friendship is the backbone of The Man in the Iron Mask, but it rapidly disintegrates throughout the book. The four men, once bound by their motto of "all for one and one for all," have grown apart from one another. Political, familial, and career motivations threaten the once inseparably loyal friends. Their friendship was once very simple. Now it is complicated.
Aramis is a horrible friend to Porthos.
Fouquet's friends display the truest form of friendship to be found in the novel.
There are many different types of love in The Man in the Iron Mask, and all forms of it act as powerful motivators for the characters involved. The first type of love in the novel is the love the four friends still bear for one another. Secondly, there is a powerful father-son bond. Athos and Raoul's love for one another transcends physical limitations of time and space. There is also Raoul's unrequited love for his former fiancé, Louise de la Valliere, which is even stronger than his love for his father.
Although La Valliere does not love Raoul, she suffers from his death just as much as he suffered from her infidelity.
Athos's love for Raoul prevents him from being a good friend.
Throughout the novel, the four friends are haunted by their past as four young and courageous men. The past in The Man in the Iron Mask is thus held dear as it embodies the age of romantic chivalry – an age which is clearly slipping away.
Aramis draws on his shared past with his friends in order to manipulate them.
Raoul lives in and dwells on the past even more so than his surrogate fathers, the four best friends.
Family in The Man in the Iron Mask does not present a reliable bond. In many ways, friends are more important than family in The Man in the Iron Mask. An exception to this claim, however, concerns Athos and his close relationship with his son, Raoul.
Coming face-to-face with his twin was exactly the kind of shock Louis needed to begin instituting absolute rule.
Honor is the governing code of conduct for all men in The Man in the Iron Mask, and it determines whether or not the four Musketeers will be on your side. In order to be honorable, the men sometimes must act counter to their own self-interest.
Acting in an honorable manner is the priority for almost all the characters in the novel.
The four Musketeers from Dumas' The Three Musketeers are all grown up, and The Man in the Iron Mask deeply reflects that fact. Everything is more complicated for our heroes than it used to be, meaning that old age is viewed negatively in the world of the novel. The glories of youth are over, so from here on out life is about finding a good way to die. Keep in mind also that our heroes aren't exactly old, per se. They're still vigorous and healthy men. Old age in The Man in the Iron Mask is therefore more a state of mind than a state of physical being.
In The Man in the Iron Mask, aging means that life becomes more complicated.
Youth, and not age, is celebrated in The Man in the Iron Mask.
In The Man in the Iron Mask, loyalties are continually being pitted against each other. Characters in the novel are always expected to first and foremost be loyal to the King, but this requirement sometimes conflicts with loyalties to friends, family, or self-interest.
Out of all the courtiers, D'Artagnan has the greatest loyalty to the King.
Justice in this novel is whatever the King says it is, which of course makes us wonder exactly how just the system is. Unlike what we saw in The Three Musketeers, justice in The Man in the Iron Mask is a subjective issue.
Not a single character in the novel receives a just punishment.
No one is concerned with justice in the novel.