The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 4–7 | Summary



Chapter 4

As d'Artagnan hurries from Treville's chamber, he bumps Athos's injured shoulder. They argue about manners and schedule a time and place to duel.

D'Artagnan resumes his pursuit of Rochefort. Passing by Porthos at the gate, he becomes entangled in the Musketeer's cloak. He sees the secret of the gold baldric—it is only gold in the front. When they argue, d'Artagnan alludes to seeing the back of the baldric. They arrange a duel.

D'Artagnan continues his search for Rochefort, but the trail has gone cold. He despairs at having planned duels with two superior swordsmen—not only can they kill him effortlessly, but he had wanted to join their ranks and be like them. He vows, if he miraculously survives, he will be more polite and gracious, like Aramis.

D'Artagnan sees Aramis on the street with his friends and retrieves a handkerchief from under Aramis's foot. Another guard says it belongs to a certain woman Aramis knows. Aramis denies it. Aramis and his friends laugh it off and part ways amiably. D'Artagnan persists, saying he saw Aramis drop the handkerchief. They decide to duel but not in the street. They part and d'Artagnan heads to his first scheduled duel of the day, knowing he cannot back down but content knowing he will be killed by a Musketeer.

Chapter 5

Athos, suffering and weak, tells d'Artagnan two friends are coming to the duel as his "seconds," for support. They talk. Athos is starting to like d'Artagnan by the time Porthos and Aramis arrive. D'Artagnan cannot believe the two "seconds" are his other two opponents. Athos says everyone knows them as the "Three Inseparables."

Just as the two men cross swords, the cardinal's guards arrive and witness d'Artagnan and Athos engaging in this illegal activity. The commander of the company, M. de Jussac, orders them to come with him or fight his guards. The Musketeers would rather die than get another scolding from Treville, so they choose to fight.

D'Artagnan, in an instant, makes a life-changing alliance, choosing the king over the cardinal and announcing his intention to fight alongside the Musketeers.

D'Artagnan takes on Jussac fearlessly and energetically and injures him with his sword. Jussac falls in a heap. The rules of dueling say d'Artagnan can now assist any of the others.

D'Artagnan gives Athos a break from fighting left-handed, but Athos wants to finish the fight. Aramis, having killed one opponent, forces another to submit. Porthos taunts his opponent Bicarat with inane conversation while fighting, but the guard will not yield. Even when the other three surround him, Bicarat laughs at imminent death. Jussac commands him to quit, and Bicarat breaks his sword rather than surrender it.

D'Artagnan and the Musketeers head to Treville's hotel, arm in arm down the street, like a parade. D'Artagnan is ecstatic. His apprenticeship has begun.

Chapter 6

The sword fight with the cardinal's guards is important news. Treville must get to the king immediately to put his spin on it before the cardinal does. The cardinal beats him to it.

Later, Treville tells the king the Musketeers must defend themselves. The king wants to thank d'Artagnan and the three Musketeers in person. D'Artagnan is beside himself with the honor.

Athos and d'Artagnan watch Porthos and Aramis play tennis. A guardsman of the cardinal, eager to avenge the previous day's defeat, insults the Musketeers. D'Artagnan is ready to duel. The guard tells him his name, as if to scare him: Bernajoux. Bernajoux throws himself at d'Artagnan, and is injured by d'Artagnan's sword. Bernajoux runs toward the hotel of M. de la Tremouille, where his relative works. Other guards from both sides join in the battle; the Musketeers prevail. The four friends and Treville go to see the king, but he is out hunting with the cardinal.

Tremouille originally blamed the Musketeers for the battle, so Treville goes to the hotel to get the real story of the battle. Tremouille gives Bernajoux smelling salts, and he rallies to speak without guile, just as Treville had hoped.

Treville and the four friends try to see the king again. The king arrives, looking displeased, and retires to his chamber. The four friends return home.

The king tells Treville he heard from the cardinal that Treville's men assassinated a man, rioted in the streets, and almost set fire to Paris. The informant was Tremouille. They call Tremouille to the palace to settle the question of blame: the cardinal's guards are completely at fault.

The king asks to see the Musketeers and d'Artagnan and is impressed a mere boy defeated Jussac and Bernajoux. The king tells Treville to put d'Artagnan in the company of Dessessart.

Chapter 7

Porthos advises d'Artagnan to get a servant and brings him Planchet. At first. Planchet thinks d'Artagnan is wealthy, but reality sets in when he sees D'Artagnan has only two rooms and only one bed.

Approaching age 30, and never having had a mistress, mysterious Athos does not embellish his speech when he speaks. He trained his valet Grimaud to obey facial expressions. Grimaud loves, respects, and fears Athos, but when he fails, Athos just shrugs and beats Grimaud.

Porthos, on the other hand, loves to talk loudly, often about his success with women. Porthos's valet, Mousqueton, agreed to work for clothing—Porthos has his old clothes tailored for him—and lodging. Both look great, so they are satisfied with the arrangement.

Aramis's servant is Bazin, clothed in black like the servant of a churchman, very religious himself, completely discreet and loyal to his master.

For a dwelling, Athos has two small rooms, furnished and modest, but with hints of "past splendor," bearing the coat of arms of an old, noble family.

Porthos has a large and sumptuous apartment. Friends observe Mousqueton well dressed in the window, but Porthos never invites anyone in to see the inside.

Aramis has three small rooms with a shady garden to protect his privacy.

Curious, d'Artagnan tries to learn more about the real names and backgrounds of his friends. Some say Athos might have been crossed in love. Porthos is an open book because he talks so much. Aramis swears he has no mistress, just like Athos. He is a churchman at heart and does not reveal much.

When money grows scarce, the Musketeers give d'Artagnan advice about firing Planchet who had been complaining about the situation. D'Artagnan beats Planchet to earn his respect, telling Planchet he cannot quit without permission. Planchet stays, having a newfound respect for his master. Thus, d'Artagnan learns to live in Paris by following his friends' lifestyle.

Every morning, the four friends check in with Treville. D'Artagnan—now a guard under Dessessart—and the Musketeers go on guard duty.


In no time at all, d'Artagnan has scheduled three back-to-back duels and all due to impossibly minor offenses, two of them committed while pursuing a duel with Rochefort. Affronts like bumping into someone, or seeing the cheap side of an expensive belt, would make a man stop everything and risk his life or take the life of his opponent. While Dumas romanticizes the Musketeers' allegiance to honor, he also makes fun of the excesses that an exaggerated sense of honor can create.

In the case of Aramis, just arguing over whether he dropped something or not might be enough to start a duel, but the object is a handkerchief, and handkerchiefs are women's calling cards. A woman shows favor by giving a man her handkerchief or sends one with a messenger to prove their legitimacy. When d'Artagnan presses his case for Aramis dropping the handkerchief, he is drawing attention to Aramis having a mistress. Discreet Aramis denies it. Discretion is the flip side of honor: Aramis protects the honor of a woman above all else by being discreet. Honor for women in this era has to do with virtue. Unmarried women were expected to remain virgins until marriage, and married women were expected to remain faithful to their husbands (although the mistresses in the story are often married).

D'Artagnan believes he will be killed in the very first duel and regrets the dishonor of missing his subsequent appointments. He cannot back down from the duels—that would bring dishonor. At least he will be killed by a Musketeer and will die an honorable death.

Meanwhile, Athos is weighing the honor attached to his duel with D'Artagnan: double the pride if he defeats a vigorous young man while wounded, but then he would be known as the killer of a defenseless boy. D'Artagnan also considers the value of a victory against a wounded older man. Both seeing this duel as not having a big payoff in terms of reputation, they make polite conversation and dawdle on their way to crossing swords.

When the cardinal's guards stumble upon the scene, they order the Musketeers to come with them. Loyalty and honor prohibit Musketeers from obeying the cardinal's guard, and they would rather die than get scolded by Treville again. Even wounded, Athos wants to finish his own fight because of a previous grievance with his opponent.

Porthos's opponent, Bicarat, laughs at death even when the other Musketeers join Porthos against him. Again, if one must die, he must do it with honor, facing a row of Musketeers. Jussac commands Bicarat to stop, but Bicarat breaks his sword rather than give it up—he must stop when his captain commands him out of loyalty, and he will not give his sword out of pride. The sword is a symbol of strength, endurance, and power, so he will not yield. The winners collect the swords—effectively taking the power—of Jussac and his men, and march in an impromptu parade to Treville's hotel.

Treville defends the Musketeers to the king, saying the cardinal's guard always starts the trouble and the Musketeers must defend themselves and their honor. The king is always in a better mood when his guards are winning; it protects his honor with the cardinal. The king even tactfully gloats by asking the cardinal after the health of "poor Jussac" and "poor Bernajoux."

The servants and the homes of the Musketeers reflect their individual personalities. Athos's servant Grimaud is as silent as his master. Athos's home looks modest but has hints of an aristocratic past. Porthos's servant, like his master, likes to dress well. Porthos's home is big and flashy, but no one knows what is on the inside. Aramis's servant Bazin looks and acts like a churchman, and Aramis's home is discreetly concealed inside gardens. D'Artagnan takes lifestyle advice from his new friends. The description of each servant and home adds to the characterization of each master.

Since declaring himself one of them in the sword fight against Jussac's men, d'Artagnan is brought into the fold of the Inseparables—performing guard duty together—and plays his part in the theme of friendship.

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