Study Guide

The Three Musketeers Quotes

  • Friendship

    They walked arm in arm, occupying the whole width of the street and taking in every Musketeer they met, so that in the end it became a triumphal march. The heart of D’Artagnan swam in delirium; he marched between Athos and Porthos, pressing them tenderly. (5.119)

    The friendship between the four men begins after they fight together against the Cardinal’s men.

    Notwithstanding all the pains he took, D’Artagnan was unable to learn any more concerning his three new-made friends. He formed, therefore, the resolution of believing for the present all that was said of their past, hoping for more certain and extended revelations in the future. (7.29)

    Despite the four friends sharing everything, there are sacred secrets that cannot be shared. This adds an element of mystery to the novel and a layer of complication to the friendship.

    In fact, four men such as they were—four men devoted to one another, from their purses to their lives; four men always supporting one another, never yielding, executing singly or together the resolutions formed in common; four arms threatening the four cardinal points, or turning toward a single point—must inevitably, either subterraneously, in open day, by mining, in the trench, by cunning, or by force, open themselves a way toward the object they wished to attain, however well it might be defended, or however distant it may seem. The only thing that astonished D’Artagnan was that his friends had never thought of this. (8.9)

    D’Artagnan feels that together, the four can achieve anything. This is borne out in the rest of the novel as they overcome one obstacle after another. Their friendship is enhanced by complete generosity – they share absolutely everything.

    Then D’Artagnan, disposed to become the most tender of lovers, was at the same time a very devoted friend, In the midst of his amorous projects for the mercer’s wife, he did not forget his friends. The pretty Mme. Bonacieux was just the woman to walk with in the Plain St. Denis or in the fair of St. Germain, in company with Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, to whom D’Artagnan had often remarked this. Then one could enjoy charming little dinners, where one touches on one side the hand of a friend, and on the other the foot of a mistress. (11.10)

    Basically, he wants Constance as arm candy to show off in front of his friends. Are you getting that vibe too? Does this passage show him to be a devoted friend or a selfish self-promoter?

    It is well known how violent the king’s prejudices were against the queen, and how carefully these prejudices were kept up by the cardinal, who in affairs of intrigue mistrusted women infinitely more than men. One of the grand causes of this prejudice was the friendship of Anne of Austria for Mme. de Chevreuse. These two women gave him more uneasiness than the war with Spain, the quarrel with England, or the embarrassment of the finances. In his eyes and to his conviction, Mme. de Chevreuse not only served the queen in her political intrigues, but, what tormented him still more, in her amorous intrigues. (15.10)

    It’s fascinating that the Cardinal is more threatened by a friendship between two powerful women than by all of France’s diplomatic and financial problems.

    "And you are going alone?"

    "I am going alone."

    "In that case you will not get beyond Bondy. I tell you so, by the faith of De Tréville."

    "How so?"

    "You will be assassinated."

    "And I shall die in the performance of my duty."

    "But your mission will not be accomplished."

    "That is true," replied D’Artagnan.

    "Believe me," continued Tréville, "in enterprises of this kind, in order that one may arrive, four must set out."

    "Ah, you are right, monsieur," said D’Artagnan; "but you know Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and you know if I can dispose of them." (19.31 – 19.40)

    Friendship is vitally important to the success of this first mission that our heroes undertake; this sets the tenor for the rest of the novel when they rely on each other in other endeavors.

    D’Artagnan went out, but at the door his heart almost failed him, and he felt inclined to return. Then the noble and severe countenance of Athos crossed his mind; if he made the compact with the cardinal which he required, Athos would no more give him his hand--Athos would renounce him.

    It was this fear that restrained him, so powerful is the influence of a truly great character on all that surrounds it. (40.59 – 40.60)

    Is this proof that D’Artagnan is closest to Athos? Or that Athos inspires the most admiration and influence?

    "You saw your wi--"

    "Hush!" interrupted Athos. "You forget, my dear, you forget that these gentlemen are not initiated into my family affairs like yourself. I have seen Milady." (47.21 – 47.22)

    Proof that Athos and D’Artagnan are closer to each other than any of the four?

    "Well," said he, "they likewise have refused me."

    "That, dear friend, is because nobody is more worthy than yourself."

    He took a quill, wrote the name of D’Artagnan in the commission, and returned it to him.

    "I shall then have no more friends," said the young man. "Alas! nothing but bitter recollections."

    And he let his head sink upon his hands, while two large tears rolled down his cheeks. (67.125 – 67.129)

    This passage demonstrates first, that D’Artagnan’s three friends know him better than he knows himself, and secondly, that D’Artagnan truly prizes their friendship more than fulfilling any ambition. He’s genuinely upset that he’s going to be parted from his friends.

    "I shall probably kill you the fourth," said he to him, holding out his hand to assist him to rise.

    "It is much better both for you and for me to stop where we are," answered the wounded man.

    "Corbleu--I am more your friend than you think--for after our very first encounter, I could by saying a word to the Cardinal have had your throat cut!"

    They this time embraced heartily, and without retaining any malice. (Epilogue.110 – Epilogue.113)

    D’Artagnan makes a new friend! Although D’Artagnan had been convinced the man from Meung was his sworn adversary, they actually have a lot in common and would make good friends given the opportunity.

  • Love

    "Yes. The cardinal, as it appears, pursues he and persecutes her more than ever. He cannot pardon her the history of the Saraband. You know the history of the Saraband?" (8.50)

    In love with Queen Anne, the Cardinal dressed up as a clown and danced for her. We’re not sure why he thought that was seductive, but Queen Anne rejected him big-time. And now he won’t leave her alone. Hell hath no fury like the head honcho of a country scorned.

    He was thinking of Mme. Bonacieux. For an apprentice Musketeer the young woman was almost an ideal of love. Pretty, mysterious, initiated in almost all the secrets of the court, which reflected such a charming gravity over her pleasing features, it might be surmised that she was not wholly unmoved; and this is an irresistible charm to novices in love. Moreover, D’Artagnan had delivered her from the hands of the demons who wished to search and ill treat her; and this important service had established between them one of those sentiments of gratitude which so easily assume a more tender character. (11.3)

    D’Artagnan’s love for Constance is yet another example of how the novel uses highly romanticized, lofty ideals. D’Artagnan’s love for Constance is a very uncomplicated and one-dimensional. He wants to die for her, perform extreme acts to prove himself. But he hardly feels nervous around her, or feels conflicted or guilty for loving her.

    And M. Bonacieux? whom D’Artagnan had pushed into the hands of the officers, denying him aloud although he had promised in a whisper to save him. We are compelled to admit to our readers that D’Artagnan thought nothing about him in any way; or that if he did think of him, it was only to say to himself that he was very well where he was, wherever it might be. Love is the most selfish of all the passions. (11.11)

    When people believe they are experiencing true love, it doesn’t matter to them that their lover has a spouse. In this respect D’Artagnan and Constance’s love affair mirrors the Duke and the Queen’s.

    This must be, then, an affair of importance; and what is the most important affair to a woman of twenty-five! Love. (11.36)

    This passages reflects D’Artagnan’s view of women as being creatures made entirely for love intrigues. Such a one-dimensional view is complicated by the introduction of Milady later in the novel.

    "Yes, and France is about to pay for her king’s refusal with a war. I am not allowed to see you, Madame, but you shall every day hear of me. What object, think you, have this expedition to Ré and this league with the Protestants of La Rochelle which I am projecting? The pleasure of seeing you. I have no hope of penetrating, sword in hand, to Paris, I know that well. But this war may bring round a peace; this peace will require a negotiator; that negotiator will be me. They will not dare to refuse me then; and I will return to Paris, and will see you again, and will be happy for an instant. Thousands of men, it is true, will have to pay for my happiness with their lives; but what is that to me, provided I see you again! All this is perhaps folly--perhaps insanity; but tell me what woman has a lover more truly in love; what queen a servant more ardent?" (12.29)

    For the Duke, proof of his love requires grand gestures – like conquering a nation. Let’s call this the ultimate extension of the "mine is bigger than yours" competition. The Duke and the Queen’s love affair is similar to Constance and D’Artagnan’s, only it takes place on a much grander scale.

    "Yes," said he, "yes, Anne of Austria is my true queen. Upon a word from her, I would betray my country, I would betray my king, I would betray my God. She asked me not to send the Protestants of La Rochelle the assistance I promised them; I have not done so. I broke my word, it is true; but what signifies that? I obeyed my love; and have I not been richly paid for that obedience? It was to that obedience I owe her portrait." (21.31)

    For the Duke, his love for Queen Anne is Priority Number One. Do we ever see him waver from the stance expressed here?

    At these words she opened the door of the corridor, and pushed D’Artagnan out of the room. D’Artagnan obeyed like a child, without the least resistance or objection, which proved that he was really in love. (22.57)

    In The Three Musketeers, obedience is associated with love. This recurs later when we see Kitty blindly obeying D’Artagnan’s directives because she loves him.

    "What!" said he, "you have just lost one woman, whom you call good, charming, perfect; and here you are, running headlong after another."

    D’Artagnan felt the truth of this reproach.

    "I loved Madame Bonacieux with my heart, while I only love Milady with my head," said he. "In getting introduced to her, my principal object is to ascertain what part she plays at court." (31.56 – 31.58)

    It looks like D’Artagnan is grabbing any excuse he can in order to be a player. Of course, you can also take this passage at face value and believe that his intentions were truly pure.

    But this time our Gascon saw at a glance all the advantage to be derived from the love which Kitty had just confessed so innocently, or so boldly: the interception of letters addressed to the Comte de Wardes, news on the spot, entrance at all hours into Kitty’s chamber, which was contiguous to her mistress’s. The perfidious deceiver was, as may plainly be perceived, already sacrificing, in intention, the poor girl in order to obtain Milady, willy-nilly. (33.66)

    What ethical code is D’Artagnan following here? Now he’s using Kitty in order to use Milady in order to get to Constance? Clearly Kitty’s heart is going to get stomped on. Whatever happened to the line "let’s just be friends?"

    D’Artagnan, on his part, had gained the summit of all his wishes. It was no longer a rival who was beloved; it was himself who was apparently beloved. A secret voice whispered to him, at the bottom of his heart, that he was but an instrument of vengeance, that he was only caressed till he had given death; but pride, but self-love, but madness silenced this voice and stifled its murmurs. And then our Gascon, with that large quantity of conceit which we know he possessed, compared himself with De Wardes, and asked himself why, after all, he should not be beloved for himself?

    He was absorbed entirely by the sensations of the moment. Milady was no longer for him that woman of fatal intentions who had for a moment terrified him; she was an ardent, passionate mistress, abandoning herself to love which she also seemed to feel. (37.8 – 37.9)

    For those of you who believe that D’Artagnan truly does love Constance, how do you explain this passage? One route might be to argue that Milady is simply manipulating D’Artagnan into believing he is in love; his true love is still Constance.

    "And is that all--is that all?" replied Buckingham, impatiently.

    "She likewise charged me to tell you that she still loved you."

    "Ah," said Buckingham, "God be praised! My death, then, will not be to her as the death of a stranger!" (59.110 – 59.113)

    Does this final scene between the Duke and Laporte prove that the Duke truly loves Queen Anne? Consider the fact that his last thoughts are of her.

  • Pride

    "At court, provided you have ever the honor to go there," continued M. D’Artagnan the elder, "--an honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been worthily borne by your ancestors for five hundred years, both for your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you. […] You ought to be brave for two reasons: the first is that you are a Gascon, and the second is that you are my son. Never fear quarrels, but seek adventures. I have taught you how to handle a sword; you have thews of iron, a wrist of steel. Fight on all occasions. Fight the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is twice as much courage in fighting. I have nothing to give you, my son, but fifteen crowns, my horse, and the counsels you have just heard." (1.6)

    D’Artagnan’s pride is instilled in him by his father.

    This time there could be no doubt; D’Artagnan was really insulted. […] Unfortunately, as he advanced, his anger increased at every step; and instead of the proper and lofty speech he had prepared as a prelude to his challenge, he found nothing at the tip of his tongue but a gross personality, which he accompanied with a furious gesture.

    "I say, sir, you sir, who are hiding yourself behind that shutter--yes, you, sir, tell me what you are laughing at, and we will laugh together!"

    The gentleman raised his eyes slowly from the nag to his cavalier, as if he required some time to ascertain whether it could be to him that such strange reproaches were addressed; then, when he could not possibly entertain any doubt of the matter, his eyebrows slightly bent, and with an accent of irony and insolence impossible to be described, he replied to D’Artagnan, "I was not speaking to you, sir."

    "But I am speaking to you!" replied the young man, additionally exasperated with this mixture of insolence and good manners, of politeness and scorn. (1.14 – 1.17)

    Compare this young hotheaded D’Artagnan with the D’Artagnan later in the novel. Does his pride abate over time or does he simply learn to better manage it?

    "And we say, ‘Proud as a Gascon,’" replied D’Artagnan. "The Gascons are the Scots of France." (21.63)

    Is D’Artagnan’s pride inherited from his father or from the area of France that he hails from?

    With a little more heart, he might have been contented with this new conquest; but the principal features of his character were ambition and pride. (33.110)

    This is the ugly underbelly of D’Artagnan’s character. He can’t stand the idea that Milady might love another; he wants to conquer her too. Kitty is only a means to the end of inflating his pride.

    D’Artagnan, on his part, had gained the summit of all his wishes. It was no longer a rival who was beloved; it was himself who was apparently beloved. A secret voice whispered to him, at the bottom of his heart, that he was but an instrument of vengeance, that he was only caressed till he had given death; but pride, but self-love, but madness silenced this voice and stifled its murmurs. And then our Gascon, with that large quantity of conceit which we know he possessed, compared himself with De Wardes, and asked himself why, after all, he should not be beloved for himself? (37.8)

    D’Artagnan is perfectly aware that Milady is manipulating him, but his pride and conceit make him a perfect victim.

    D’Artagnan was so completely bewildered that without taking any heed of what might become of Kitty he ran at full speed across half Paris, and did not stop till he came to Athos’s door. The confusion of his mind, the terror which spurred him on, the cries of some of the patrol who started in pursuit of him, and the hooting of the people who, notwithstanding the early hour, were going to their work, only made him precipitate his course. (38.1)

    No one can escape Karma. Satisfying his pride by inducing declarations of love from Milady, hours later he is running through the streets without his own clothes.

    Athos and D’Artagnan, with the activity of two soldiers and the knowledge of two connoisseurs, hardly required three hours to purchase the entire equipment of the Musketeer. Besides, Athos was very easy, and a noble to his fingers’ ends. When a thing suited him he paid the price demanded, without thinking to ask for any abatement. D’Artagnan would have remonstrated at this; but Athos put his hand upon his shoulder, with a smile, and D’Artagnan understood that it was all very well for such a little Gascon gentleman as himself to drive a bargain, but not for a man who had the bearing of a prince. (38.133)

    Here we see pride intersecting with class and with money. Although Athos isn’t exactly rich, he would never stoop to bargaining for his purchases because of his position as an aristocrat.

    Planchet, very proud of being raised to the dignity of maitre d’hotêl, thought he would make all ready, like an intelligent man; and with this view called in the assistance of the lackey of one of his master’s guests, named Fourreau, and the false soldier who had tried to kill D’Artagnan and who, belonging to no corps, had entered into the service of D’Artagnan, or rather of Planchet, after D’Artagnan had saved his life. (42.10)

    Lackeys also have their pride, but in a very different way from gentlemen. What are other instances in which the lackeys in the book exhibit pride in their work?

    He has deceived her in her love, humbled her in her pride, thwarted her in her ambition; and now he ruins her fortune, deprives her of liberty, and even threatens her life. Still more, he has lifted the corner of her mask--that shield with which she covered herself and which rendered her so strong. (52.4)

    Here at last Milady has found an adversary stronger and smarter than she is.

    To be a woman condemned to a painful and disgraceful punishment is no impediment to beauty, but it is an obstacle to the recovery of power. Like all persons of real genius, Milady knew what suited her nature and her means. Poverty was repugnant to her; degradation took away two-thirds of her greatness. Milady was only a queen while among queens. The pleasure of satisfied pride was necessary to her domination. To command inferior beings was rather a humiliation than a pleasure for her. (56.4)

    Milady’s pride is characterized as feminine, while D’Artagnan’s pride is characterized as being masculine. Do you agree with this interpretation? Another way of getting at the same issue is to compare and contrast Milady and D’Artagnan when it comes to issues of pride.

  • Society and Class

    "At court, provided you have ever the honor to go there," continued M. D’Artagnan the elder, "--an honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been worthily borne by your ancestors for five hundred years, both for your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you." (1.6)

    The status of a gentleman is inherited. This restricts D’Artagnan to this class status while also meaning he has the honor of his ancestors to uphold.

    An old proverb says, "Like master, like man." (7.8)

    Evaluate this saying in the context of The Three Musketeers. How do the servants reflect the personalities of their masters?

    She was a charming woman of twenty-five or twenty-six years, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a nose slightly turned up, admirable teeth, and a complexion marbled with rose and opal. There, however, ended the signs which might have confounded her with a lady of rank. The hands were white, but without delicacy; the feet did not bespeak the woman of quality. Happily, D’Artagnan was not yet acquainted with such niceties. (10.34)

    D’Artagnan’s enchantment with Constance Bonacieux reveals his background as being little bit provincial. Although she is beautiful, she’s clearly not of high birth because of the roughness of her hands and feet.

    "Gentlemen," said Athos, "my opinion is that it is not proper to allow lackeys to have anything to do in such an affair. A secret may, by chance, be betrayed by gentlemen; but it is almost always sold by lackeys." (19.137)

    For Athos, the distinction between a gentleman and a lackey is that the latter will betray secrets for money while the former may do it only by accident. It is fitting that he makes this remark since, of the four he is the most gentlemanly of all.

    As long as he was in the city, Planchet kept at the respectful distance he had imposed upon himself; but as soon as the road began to be more lonely and dark, he drew softly nearer, so that when they entered the Bois de Boulogne he found himself riding quite naturally side by side with his master. (24.4)

    If you want to read into this, you might argue this passage illustrates that without society (the city), the two are really rather equal.

    "You will understand, monsieur, I thought there would be still time, if you wish, to see Monsieur de Cavois to contradict me by saying you were not yet gone. The falsehood would then lie at my door, and as I am not a gentleman, I may be allowed to lie." (25.51)

    Planchet understands his social position as giving him carte blanche to tell falsehoods. However, it’s critical that he told this particular lie. This supports D’Artagnan’s later argument that Planchet is the most intelligent of the four lackeys.

    This was too much for the procurator’s wife; she doubted not there was an intrigue between this lady and Porthos. If she had been a great lady she would have fainted; but as she was only a procurator’s wife, she contented herself saying to the musketeer with concentrated fury, "Eh, Monsieur Porthos, you don’t offer me any holy water?" (29.23)

    Ladies of high birth faint when they’re angry. Ladies like the lawyer’s wife open their mouths. Just another one of the differences that distinguish nobles from commoners in this society.

    D’Artagnan looked at the two women, one after the other, and was forced to acknowledge that in his opinion dame Nature had made a mistake in their formation. To the great lady she had given a heart vile and venal; to the soubrette she had given the heart of a duchess. (35.4)

    Qualities of kindness and inner beauty are not restricted to queens and noble ladies. D’Artagnan recognizes this yet, as we see later, cannot stop falling in love with Milady instead of her maid.

    Athos and D’Artagnan, with the activity of two soldiers and the knowledge of two connoisseurs, hardly required three hours to purchase the entire equipment of the Musketeer. Besides, Athos was very easy, and a noble to his fingers’ ends. When a thing suited him he paid the price demanded, without thinking to ask for any abatement. D’Artagnan would have remonstrated at this; but Athos put his hand upon his shoulder, with a smile, and D’Artagnan understood that it was all very well for such a little Gascon gentleman as himself to drive a bargain, but not for a man who had the bearing of a prince. (38.133)

    Here we see pride intersecting with class and with money. Although Athos isn’t exactly rich, he would never stoop to bargaining for his purchases because of his position as an aristocrat.

    She knew she had only two days left; that when once the order was signed by Buckingham- -and Buckingham would sign it the more readily from its bearing a false name, and he could not, therefore, recognize the woman in question--once this order was signed, we say, the baron would make her embark immediately, and she knew very well that women condemned to exile employ arms much less powerful in their seductions than the pretendedly virtuous woman whose beauty is lighted by the sun of the world, whose style the voice of fashion lauds, and whom a halo of aristocracy gilds with enchanting splendors. To be a woman condemned to a painful and disgraceful punishment is no impediment to beauty, but it is an obstacle to the recovery of power. Like all persons of real genius, Milady knew what suited her nature and her means. Poverty was repugnant to her; degradation took away two-thirds of her greatness. Milady was only a queen while among queens. The pleasure of satisfied pride was necessary to her domination. To command inferior beings was rather a humiliation than a pleasure for her. (56.4)

    Milady is a strange character in this society because she is not of high birth (her exact origins are unknown), but she works her way through the aristocracy. High society then, is like a challenging game for her. To be exiled to a lesser world causes her a great deal of pain because being queen of that world would be far too easy.

  • Revenge

    "Oh, sir, if you know who this man is," cried D’Artagnan, "tell me who he is, and whence he is. I will then release you from all your promises--even that of procuring my admission into the Musketeers; for before everything, I wish to avenge myself."

    "Beware, young man!" cried Tréville. "If you see him coming on one side of the street, pass by on the other. Do not cast yourself against such a rock; he would break you like glass."

    "That will not prevent me," replied D’Artagnan, "if ever I find him." (3.71 – 3.773)

    D’Artagnan is not to be deterred from taking his revenge. This is evidence of his foolhardy nature.

    Unfortunately for D’Artagnan, among the spectators was one of his Eminence’s Guardsmen, who, still irritated by the defeat of his companions, which had happened only the day before, had promised himself to seize the first opportunity of avenging it. He believed this opportunity was now come and addressed his neighbor: "It is not astonishing that that young man should be afraid of a ball, for he is doubtless a Musketeer apprentice." (7.52)

    These cycles of revenge are what lead to constant warfare. No wonder everyone is always fighting in Paris at this time.

    "Yes. The Cardinal, as it appears, pursues he and persecutes her more than ever. He cannot pardon her the history of the Saraband. You know the history of the Saraband?"

    "Pardieu! Know it!" replied D’Artagnan, who knew nothing about it, but who wished to appear to know everything that was going on.

    "So that now it is no longer hatred, but vengeance." (8.50 – 8.52)

    After his declarations of love are scorned by the Queen, the Cardinal is out to get revenge. This is a bit unfair to the Queen, seeing as she has barely any power.

    "No, Kitty, you are mistaken. I do not love her, but I will avenge myself for her contempt."

    "Oh, yes, I know what sort of vengeance! You told me that!"

    "What matters it to you, Kitty? You know it is you alone whom I love."

    "How can I know that?"

    "By the scorn I will throw upon her." (33.122 – 33.126)

    Here D’Artagnan is trying to persuade himself and Kitty that he feels nothing for Milady, but rather that he is motivated to act in order to get revenge.

    "No, I do not hesitate; God forbid! But would it be just to allow me to go to a possible death without having given me at least something more than hope?"

    Milady answered by a glance which said, "Is that all?--speak, then." And then accompanying the glance with explanatory words, "That is but too just," said she, tenderly. (36.119 – 36.120)

    First of all, D’Artagnan is basically asking for sex. Milady tells him yes, he can have that. She clearly has no qualms using sex in order to achieve her goal of revenge against the Comte de Wardes.

    D’Artagnan, on his part, had gained the summit of all his wishes. It was no longer a rival who was beloved; it was himself who was apparently beloved. A secret voice whispered to him, at the bottom of his heart, that he was but an instrument of vengeance, that he was only caressed till he had given death; but pride, but self-love, but madness silenced this voice and stifled its murmurs. And then our Gascon, with that large quantity of conceit which we know he possessed, compared himself with De Wardes, and asked himself why, after all, he should not be beloved for himself? (37.8)

    D’Artagnan is perfectly aware that Milady is manipulating him in order to achieve of her goal of avenging herself on the Comte de Wardes, but he cannot help but feel persuaded that she really does love him.

    Richelieu, as everyone knows, had loved the queen. Was this love a simple political affair, or was it naturally one of those profound passions, which Anne of Austria inspired in those who approached her? That we are not able to say; but at all events, we have seen, by the anterior developments of this story, that Buckingham had the advantage over him, and in two or three circumstances, particularly that of the diamond studs, had, thanks to the devotedness of the three musketeers and the courage and conduct of D’Artagnan, cruelly mystified him.

    It was, then, Richelieu’s object, not only to get rid of an enemy of France, but to avenge himself on a rival; but this vengeance must be grand and striking and worthy in every way of a man who held in his hand, as his weapon for combat, the forces of a kingdom. (41.10 – 41.11)

    Cardinal Richelieu’s motivation for winning the war is so he can show himself to be a better man than the Duke of Buckingham. Although it is Queen Anne inspiring such events, she herself has very little power.

    "Look you, my friends!" cried D’Artagnan, "a horrible suspicion crosses my mind! Can this be another vengeance of that woman?" (42.49)

    You really don’t want to get on Milady’s bad side. Her power and her cunning are very great.

    The four friends, during the period of these two absences, had, as may well be supposed, the eye on the watch, the nose to the wind, and the ear on the hark. Their days were passed in endeavoring to catch all that was said, in observing the proceeding of the cardinal, and in looking out for all the couriers who arrived. More than once an involuntary trembling seized them when called upon for some unexpected service. They had, besides, to look constantly to their own proper safety; Milday was a phantom which, when it had once appeared to people, did not allow them to sleep very quietly. (48.117)

    In her brazen efforts to avenge herself of D’Artagnan, Milady has the four friends psychologically terrified.

    She rather feared that her preceding operations in England might have been discovered. Buckingham might have guessed that it was she who had cut off the two studs, and avenge himself for that little treachery; but Buckingham was incapable of going to any excess against a woman, particularly if that woman was supposed to have acted from a feeling of jealousy. (50.2)

    Milady understands that Buckingham would never avenge himself upon a woman, especially if that woman was said to be acting due to jealousy.

  • Ambition

    Some fragments of past splendor appeared here and there upon the walls of this modest lodging; a sword, for example, richly embossed, which belonged by its make to the times of Francis I, the hilt of which alone, encrusted with precious stones, might be worth two hundred pistoles, and which, nevertheless, in his moments of greatest distress Athos had never pledged or offered for sale. It had long been an object of ambition for Porthos. Porthos would have given ten years of his life to possess this sword. (6.12)

    This passage demonstrates that Porthos cares primarily for money—his greatest ambition is to have as many trappings of wealth as possible.

    "Well, well, but keep whole; that will be better, and you will be more useful to me. Tréville," added the King, in a low voice, as the others were retiring, "as you have no room in the musketeers, and as we have besides decided that a novitiate is necessary before entering that corps, place this young man in the company of the Guards of Monsieur Dessessart, your brother-in-law. Ah, pardieu, Tréville! I enjoy beforehand the face the Cardinal will make. He will be furious; but I don’t care. I am doing what is right." (6.195)

    D’Artagnan must overcome many obstacles on the road to achieving his great ambition of becoming a Musketeer.

    In fact, the dream of poor Bazin had always been to serve a churchman; and he awaited with impatience the moment, always in the future, when Aramis would throw aside the uniform and assume the cassock. The daily-renewed promise of the young man that the moment would not long be delayed, had alone kept him in the service of a Musketeer—a service in which, he said, his soul was in constant jeopardy. (26.23)

    Bazin is sacrificing his time in service of a Musketeer in order to fulfill his great ambition of one day serving a churchman. Note that Bazin doesn’t aspire to these things himself—he understands and accepts his place in French society as a servant.

    "With a little more heart, he might have been contented with this new conquest; but the principal features of his character were ambition and pride." (33.110)

    The love of Kitty does not soothe D’Artagnan’s ambitious soul—he must also have her mistress. Here ambition is presented as a major flaw.

    "Now, what would you say to an ensign’s commission in my Guards, and a company after the campaign?"

    "Ah, monseigneur."

    "You accept it, do you not?"

    "Monseigneur," replied D’Artagnan, with an embarrassed air.

    "How? You refuse?" cried the cardinal, with astonishment. (40.32 – 40.36)

    Despite D’Artagnan’s ambitious nature, he turns down the offer of being an ensign for the Cardinal. This shows that his qualities of loyal nature can be greater than his ambitious nature. Note the Cardinal’s incomprehension at D’Artagnan’s refusal. Clearly D’Artagnan is very different from the men the Cardinal typically deals with.

    The Guards, under the command of M. Dessessart, took up their quartered at the Minimes; but, as we know, D’Artagnan, possessed with ambition to enter the musketeers, had formed but few friendships among his comrades, and he felt himself isolated and given up to his own reflections. (41.22)

    Here we have evidence that D’Artagnan’s ambition can be greater than his desire for friendship.

    She should certainly return from her exile--she did not doubt that a single instant; but how long might this exile last? For an active, ambitious nature, like that of Milady, days not spent in climbing are inauspicious days. (56.6)

    Milady’s ambitious nature explains why she is dissatisfied with the idea of simply going to the colonies and then working her way back to Paris—she can’t stand the idea of her ambition being thwarted for just that short length of time.

    "Well," said he, "they likewise have refused me."

    "That, dear friend, is because nobody is more worthy than yourself."

    He took a quill, wrote the name of D’Artagnan in the commission, and returned it to him.

    "I shall then have no more friends," said the young man. "Alas! nothing but bitter recollections." And he let his head sink upon his hands, while two large tears rolled down his cheeks. (67.125 – 67.129)

    This passage demonstrates that D’Artagnan truly prizes friendship more than fulfilling ambition. He’s genuinely upset that he’s going to be parted from his friends, even though it comes with the benefit of a promotion.

    Mousqueton had a magnificent livery, and enjoyed the satisfaction of which he had been ambitious all his life--that of standing behind a gilded carriage. (Epilogue.4)

    Here is seems that lackeys have a very limited set of ambitions—Mousqueton does not dream, for example, of one day riding in that carriage. Such an example might reveal that class can limit ambition.

    D’Artagnan related to Porthos the substance of his interview with the cardinal, and said, taking the commission from his pocket, "Here, my friend, write your name upon it and become my chief."

    Porthos cast his eyes over the commission and returned it to D’Artagnan, to the great astonishment of the young man.

    "Yes," said he, "yes, that would flatter me very much; but I should not have time enough to enjoy the distinction. During our expedition to Béthune the husband of my duchess died; so, my dear, the coffer of the defunct holding out its arms to me, I shall marry the widow. Look here! I was trying on my wedding suit. Keep the lieutenancy, my dear, keep it." (67.118 – 67.120)

    Since Porthos is well on his way of achieving his great ambition of possessing a lot of money, he is perfectly willing to turn down the lieutenancy.

  • Mortality

    "My faith!" replied D’Artagnan, recognizing Athos, who, after the dressing performed by the doctor, was returning to his own apartment. "I did not do it intentionally, and not doing it intentionally, I said ‘Excuse me.’ It appears to me that this is quite enough. I repeat to you, however, and this time on my word of honor--I think perhaps too often--that I am in haste, great haste. Leave your hold, then, I beg of you, and let me go where my business calls me."

    "Monsieur," said Athos, letting him go, "you are not polite; it is easy to perceive that you come from a distance." D’Artagnan had already strode down three or four stairs, but at Athos’s last remark he stopped short.

    "Morbleu, monsieur!" said he, "however far I may come, it is not you who can give me a lesson in good manners, I warn you." (4.5 – 4.8)

    These two are well on their way to fighting a duel. In the world of The Three Musketeers, it’s perfectly reasonable to risk your life because you didn’t like the way someone apologized for bumping into you.

    Now, we must have badly painted the character of our adventure seeker, or our readers must have already perceived that D’Artagnan was not an ordinary man; therefore, while repeating to himself that his death was inevitable, he did not make up his mind to die quietly, as one less courageous and less restrained might have done in his place. (5.2)

    According to the narrator, a man’s attitude toward life and death determines if he is an ordinary man or an exceptional man. Does this hold true in the rest of the novel?

    "Is the King accustomed to give you such reasons? No. He says to you jauntily, ‘Gentlemen, there is fighting going on in Gascony or in Flanders; go and fight,’ and you go there. Why? You need give yourselves no more uneasiness about this."

    "D’Artagnan is right," said Athos; "here are our three leaves of absence which came from Monsieur de Tréville, and here are three hundred pistoles which came from I don’t know where. So let us go and get killed where we are told to go. Is life worth the trouble of so many questions? D’Artagnan, I am ready to follow you." (19.122 – 19.123)

    First of all, Athos’s response reflects his emotional character—he doesn’t exactly value life the same way Porthos does. Secondly, this is a pivotal moment in the novel as D’Artagnan’s friends place their lives in the hands of the young Gascon, without even knowing why.

    "Madame," said Athos, passing his arm under that of D’Artagnan, "we abandon to your pious care the body of that unfortunate woman. She was an angel on earth before being an angel in heaven. Treat her as one of your sisters. We will return someday to pray over her grave." D’Artagnan concealed his face in the bosom of Athos, and sobbed aloud.

    "Weep," said Athos, "weep, heart full of love, youth, and life! Alas, would I could weep like you!" (63.206)

    And then we never hear about Constance again. This reflects the cavalier nature of life and death in the novel. Also, this passage is striking for Athos’s admission that his feelings about life have changed.

  • Loyalty

    At last Louis XIII made Tréville the captain of his Musketeers, who were to Louis XIII in devotedness, or rather in fanaticism, what his Ordinaries had been to Henry III, and his Scotch Guard to Louis XI. (2.3)

    Being one of the King’s Musketeers, then, means that you must have instant and automatic devotion to the King.

    This short interval was sufficient to determine D’Artagnan on the part he was to take. It was one of those events which decide the life of a man; it was a choice between the king and the cardinal--the choice made, it must be persisted in. (5.75)

    As we know, D’Artagnan chooses to side with the King. This moment cements his loyalties forever; note that he didn’t take time to think about it or make little charts of the Cardinal vs. the King on all the various issues. D’Artagnan just makes a choice and loyally sticks with it.

    "Well," replied the cardinal, who could not for an instant suspect the loyalty of Tréville, and who felt that the victory was escaping him, "well, but Athos was taken in the house in the Rue des Fossoyeurs." (15.45)

    Tréville’s loyalty is so well-established that his word is impossible to challenge. D’Artagnan, in using Tréville as an alibi, takes advantage of Tréville’s well-known loyalty to the King.

    "Would you dare to lift your hand to your queen?" said Anne of Austria, drawing herself up to her full height, and fixing her eyes upon the chancellor with an expression almost threatening.

    "I am a faithful subject of the king, madame, and all that his Majesty commands I shall do." (15.77 – 15.78)

    King trumps queen.

    Anne of Austria, deprived of the confidence of her husband, pursued by the hatred of the cardinal […]Anne of Austria had seen her most devoted servants fall around her, her most intimate confidants, her dearest favorites. Like those unfortunate persons endowed with a fatal gift, she brought misfortune upon everything she touched. Her friendship was a fatal sign which called down persecution. Mme. de Chevreuse and Mme. de Bernet were exiled, and Laporte did not conceal from his mistress that he expected to be arrested every instant. (16.55)

    Being friends with Queen Anne is a bad strategy move in the court of King Louis XIII. Further, the Cardinal cuts her off and exacts revenge by removing those loyal to her. Loyalty, then, is a highly prized currency in this world.

    "But I have sworn to kill that man!" said D’Artagnan.

    "Your life is devoted from this moment, and does not belong to you. In the name of the Queen I forbid you to throw yourself into any peril which is foreign o that of your journey." 80 "And do you command nothing in your own name?"

    "In my name," said Mme. Bonacieux, with great emotion, "in my name I beg you! But listen; they appear to be speaking of me." (18.78 – 18.80)

    Loyalty to a greater being – whether it be royalty or the love of his life – supersedes D’Artagnan’s individual ambition and desire.

    "No; she only told me she wished to send me to London to serve the interests of an illustrious personage."

    "The traitor!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux. (18.117 – 18.118)

    The expectation is that husband and wife be loyal to each other. By breaking this bond, Monsieur Bonacieux becomes a traitor in the eyes of Madame Bonacieux. And further smoothes the way for D’Artagnan to step in and seduce the woman…

    At the same instant, four men, armed to the teeth, entered by side doors, and rushed upon Athos.

    "I am taken!" shouted Athos, with all the power of his lungs. "Go on, D’Artagnan! Spur, spur!" and he fired two pistols. (20.43 – 20.44)

    Athos’s loyalty to his friend is demonstrated when he risks his life so that D’Artagnan has a chance to get away,

    "Now," said the baron, "look at this woman. She is young; she is beautiful; she possesses all earthly seductions. Well, she is a monster, who, at twenty-five years of age, has been guilty of as many crimes as you could read of in a year in the archives of our tribunals. Her voice prejudices her hearers in her favor; her beauty serves as a bait to her victims; her body even pays what she promises--I must do her that justice. She will try to seduce you, perhaps she will try to kill you. I have extricated you from misery, Felton; I have caused you to be named lieutenant; I once saved your life, you know on what occasion. I am for you not only a protector, but a friend; not only a benefactor, but a father. This woman has come back again into England for the purpose of conspiring against my life. I hold this serpent in my hands. Well, I call you, and say to you: Friend Felton, John, my child, guard me, and more particularly guard yourself, against this woman. Swear, by your hopes of salvation, to keep her safely for the chastisement she has merited. John Felton, I trust your word! John Felton, I put faith in your loyalty!" (50.62)

    John Felton has every reason to be loyal to the Lord de Winter and not to Milady. It is terrifying when Milady overcomes all of those reasons and manages to turn Felton into her devoted servant.

    Meantime, his Eminence continued his melancholy ride, murmuring between his mustaches, "These four men must positively be mine." (56.80)

    The Cardinal recognizes talent and ability, and he wants it in his service, not the King’s.

    Felton was a Puritan; he abandoned the hand of this woman to kiss her feet. He no longer loved her; he adored her. (57.28)

    This is the moment when Felton’s loyalties irrevocably turn from the Lord de Winter to Milady.