All About Dumas 'The Three Musketeers'

Alexandre Dumas' classic story follows the adventures of the King's musketeers.

The Three Musketeers
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The Three Musketeers was written by one of the foremost French story-tellers of the nineteenth century, Alexandre Dumas, and tells of the adventures that four men undertake (three seasoned musketeers and a young recruit, D'Artagnan).

D'Artagnan is an impetuous young man who, tired of his life in rural France, decides to travel to Paris to seek his fortune as one of the King’s guard, the musketeers.

On his way to the capital, however, he is robbed of his letter of introduction and has to convince M. de Treville, captain of the King’s musketeers. No sooner has he managed to get a meeting with Treville, however, D'Artagnan sees the man who robbed him out of a window, and dashes after him, barging into three of the King's guards and mortally offending them. He is challenged to three separate duels, and decides to take them all on at once.

When the day of the duels comes, the four men are interrupted by Cardinal Richelieu's guards (the sworn enemies of the musketeers), and they join forces in order to fight their enemies. From this day forth the four men become firm friends and go on a number of adventures. One of which is to save the blushes of the Queen of France, when the cardinal hopes to sow mistrust between her and the King. The Queen gives away twelve diamonds that were a present from the King to her lover, Buckingham, and in order to trap her, the Cardinal sends a spy, M'lady to steal two of the diamonds so they cannot be returned.

The musketeers and D'Artagnan set off to retrieve the jewels and manage to return them to the queen (along with two forgeries) just before the Cardinal can prove that the jewels had gone missing. M'Lady and the Cardinal, though foiled in this plot, continue to hate D'Artagnan and she plots to kill him after he sleeps with her (whilst pretending to be someone else), and discovers that she is in fact a convict.

M'Lady makes a deal with the Cardinal that she will assassinate Buckingham (one of the Cardinal’s great enemies), if he will do away with D'Artagnan.

The plots on the young man's life never quite succeed and finally he, along with his three friends, catches up with M'lady and execute her for her many crimes. The cardinal (realising that the young men may uncover his treachery) offers D'Artagnan a commission to the King’s guard, which he accepts, becoming a musketeer.

The Three Musketeers: Controversy and Questions

The Three Musketeers, is not merely an adventurous, high-flung Romance with a historical setting, it is also a keen investigation into the historical milieu that Dumas has chosen as his setting. Many of the characters are historical figures (particularly the shadowy Cardinal Richelieu), and much of the book is based on historical fact.

Although we are supposed to thrill at the adventures of D'Artagnan and his friends, we are also left in little doubt that there actions are often highly questionable. Though they speak in a code of honor and gentilesse, the musketeers are often philanderers and cheats. They are also often violent with little cause.

Despite the clear knowledge that Cardinal Richelieu is implicated in the many crimes of his agent, D'Artagnan allows him to become his patron in the final parts of the novel in order to earn his commission.

The novel never compromises its ethical compass in order to fulfill a stereotypical Romantic tale.

With a brilliantly constructed plot and a set of characters large enough to easily become legends, The Three Musketeers is a great adventure story for all ages. However, it is also a brilliantly researched and thought-out historical novel. Dumas doesn't attempt to plaster over the inconsistencies and corruptions of the times.

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Lombardi, Esther. "All About Dumas 'The Three Musketeers'." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2016, Lombardi, Esther. (2016, February 28). All About Dumas 'The Three Musketeers'. Retrieved from Lombardi, Esther. "All About Dumas 'The Three Musketeers'." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 24, 2017).