Study Guide

The Three Musketeers Pride

By Alexandre Dumas


"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.

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