The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 8–11 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 8

Money is tight, so the Musketeers take turns providing for each other. D'Artagnan tries to think of ways four good men might make a living.

There is a knock at the door. Bonacieux enters and confides that his wife, Mme. Bonacieux (seamstress to the queen and god-daughter of the queen's cloak-bearer) has been abducted. The intrigue involves the queen and the Duke of Buckingham. Mme. Bonacieux and her godfather, Laporte, are confidantes of the queen who has been betrayed by everyone else. Mme. Bonacieux had said the cardinal pursued the queen and was rejected, and now wants revenge. The queen is afraid someone has written to the Duke of Buckingham and signed her name to lure him into a trap.

When Bonacieux gives a physical description of the suspected captor, d'Artagnan recognizes his own enemy, Rochefort, the man of Meung. He will exact two revenges at once.

The conversation takes a detour as d'Artagnan is made aware Bonacieux is his landlord and he is late paying his rent.

Bonacieux then produces a letter saying not to look for Mme. Bonacieux. Bonacieux says surely d'Artagnan and his Musketeer friends must want justice for the queen and to get back at the cardinal. Bonacieux throws in free rent forever and a bunch of coins.

There is not much time to think about it before they see Rochefort outside. D'Artagnan races after him, passing Athos and Porthos on the stairs. They know the story of Meung and let d'Artagnan go. Bonacieux is gone.

Chapter 9

D'Artagnan returns to his rooms, having lost Rochefort. D'Artagnan relates the story of Mme. Bonacieux's abduction by Rochefort to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. The queen is the one to be concerned about, d'Artagnan says. The duke is in France. Aramis has a revelation: yesterday he had walked a doctor's niece to her carriage when Rochefort, he assumes, approached with several men. Rochefort called Aramis "Monsieur Duke" and the niece "madame," telling them to get in the carriage without a sound, mistaking them for the duke and the queen.

Bonacieux rushes into the room yelling for help. Four men are there to arrest him. D'Artagnan invites the guards in. They are surprised and Bonacieux is, too! D'Artagnan whispers to Bonacieux he and the Musketeers cannot help him if they are arrested, too. He tells Bonacieux to say nothing and tells the guards to take him as long as possible so he can save up for the rent. D'Artagnan asks their leader to stay back and drink a toast with him.

Porthos does not understand d'Artagnan's actions, but Athos and Aramis are impressed by them. D'Artagnan does not stop to explain, saying, "All for one, one for all—that is our motto, is it not?" They hold out their hands and swear.

Then d'Artagnan sends them all home to rest up: they are now at war with the cardinal.

Chapter 10

The narrator explains the concept of a "mousetrap": the police secretly arrest someone, place several officers in the person's home, and take into custody anyone who knocks at the door. The cardinal's men do this in Bonacieux's apartment. D'Artagnan listens through a hole in the floor. What the interrogators really want to know is if the duke is in town and if he is planning to see the queen, or already has.

The next evening, Mme. Bonacieux is caught in the mousetrap, struggling, protesting "I belong to the queen!" D'Artagnan confronts four officers, and they soon fly out.

D'Artagnan observes Mme. Bonacieux barely conscious on the chair. If her beauty falls just short of nobility, d'Artagnan would not know the difference. He notices a fallen handkerchief just like the one that got him in trouble with Aramis and puts it in her pocket.

D'Artagnan tells Mme. Bonacieux agents of the cardinal have taken her husband to prison. D'Artagnan says they should run—the agents will return with reinforcements. Mme. Bonacieux wants to get a message to Laporte. D'Artagnan offers to go. Meanwhile, she can wait in Athos's apartment. D'Artagnan leaves with the names and passwords, bowing with a look of love.

Laporte counsels D'Artagnan to get an alibi. D'Artagnan goes to Treville's hotel and sets back the clock. Treville enters and acknowledges the time. They have a conversation and then part. D'Artagnan sneaks back in and returns the clock to the correct time, his alibi secured.

Chapter 11

D'Artagnan makes his way home, smiling at the stars, thinking about pretty and mysterious Mme. Bonacieux. He decides to pay Aramis a visit and sees a cloaked woman seeking the house. The woman shows a handkerchief, reminding d'Artagnan of previous handkerchiefs. He sees a woman inside take out a new handkerchief and exchange it for the first one. She retreats; it is Mme. Bonacieux! D'Artagnan follows her. She cries out and runs. D'Artagnan catches up with her, and she nearly faints until his familiar voice reassures her. They flirt and she contends she does not know Aramis. He escorts her to her next stop, promising not to wait for her. He agrees to depart. She knocks the same knock and is gone.

Planchet tells d'Artagnan Athos has been arrested, the guards mistaking him for d'Artagnan. Athos had not argued in order to buy time for d'Artagnan. D'Artagnan sees a cloaked woman and a Musketeer: they look like Mme. Bonacieux and Aramis. D'Artagnan confronts them and swords are drawn. Mme. Bonacieux jumps between them; the man is the duke. D'Artagnan apologizes, saying he is jealous in love. The duke forgives him.

Analysis

Bonacieux says his wife's abduction is more about politics than love, and it might appear this way because all the players in the intrigue are politically prominent. But the duke, the king, and the cardinal repeatedly reveal they are all in a rivalry for the queen's affection. The duke says in Chapter 12 that his involvement with La Rochelle is about opportunities to see the queen. The king does not care if his wife asks her brother to declare war against France so long as she is not writing to her lover. The cardinal punishes the queen for past rejections, trying to ruin her, and ultimately kills her lover, his rival.

Mme. Bonacieux is indeed a pawn, abducted to hurt the queen, to keep her isolated and friendless, to control and to threaten her. Mme. Bonacieux's role grows clearer, though: she is the sweet pure-hearted seamstress to the queen, but she is also a trusted confidante, a cloaked instrument of the queen's love affair who exchanges handkerchiefs in the shadows, a visitor to "linen drapers" who do not exist, and an escort in public streets of the duke disguised as a Musketeer. From the cardinal's perspective, Mme. Bonacieux must be stopped. If he cannot figure out how the queen and the duke are meeting secretly or communicating, he must search out and shut down the conduit.

The case of mistaken identity when d'Artagnan sees Mme. Bonacieux walking with the duke recalls the anecdote of Chapter 9 in which Rochefort thought Aramis was the duke. Mistaken identities in the novel poke fun at concepts of status and rank. Clothes and status might "make the man," but to the Musketeers, honor is everything.

When the guards come for Bonacieux, d'Artagnan halts the drawing of swords and recommends exercising caution. Athos insists they do what d'Artagnan thinks best. Already d'Artagnan is taking a leadership role; others defer to him. Porthos does not always understand the plans of his friends, but he goes along with them. In early chapters, it is often said that d'Artagnan is just a boy, but he is growing up quickly.

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