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The Three Musketeers | Discussion Questions 31 - 40

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How do the four friends implement their motto, "All for one, one for all" in The Three Musketeers?

Unity is important to the four friends. When d'Artagnan first utters the phrase, he is persuading Porthos to go along with a plan he does not understand. He is asking that they trust each other. D'Artagnan soon has a mission to retrieve the queen's diamonds from the Duke of Buckingham in London, and Treville insists d'Artagnan take the three Musketeers. They defend and support each other, and their number increases the chances that at least one of them will complete the task. When the diamonds are restored, d'Artagnan must retrace the steps of his journey to collect each of his fallen comrades, as each is languishing in isolation, needing to be redirected into the fold. D'Artagnan tries, but they resist for a time, their pull on each other eventually reuniting them anyway. Similarly, the three Musketeers insist on joining d'Artagnan in liberating Mme. Bonacieux from the convent, a necessity while Milady de Winter is still out there. Their collective power reaches a final crescendo in the execution of Milady, something d'Artagnan would not have achieved alone.

How are the themes of friendship and loyalty introduced by the gifts and advice of d'Artagnan's father, M. d'Artagnan the elder, in Chapter 1 of The Three Musketeers?

M. d'Artagnan the elder introduces the themes of friendship and loyalty, saying, "Endure nothing from anyone except Monsieur the Cardinal and the king." The concept of loyalty to the crown and Cardinal Richelieu, but answering to no man other than them, is also a point of pride. D'Artagnan's father also insists at length that his son show loyalty to his horse, but that advice is quickly rejected. Bravery is also introduced by d'Artagnan's father: "Fight on all occasions. Fight the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is twice as much courage in fighting." Again, there is also pride and honor in doing something forbidden as well as inherently dangerous. Every fight is a fight for honor. Ambition is already part of d'Artagnan's personality; he wants to be a Musketeer. His father offers him the only valuable connection he has: Treville. "He began as you begin. Go to him with this letter, and make him your model in order that you may do as he has done." Treville shares the Gascon attributes of strength, stubbornness, pride, and poverty, having risen through the ranks as d'Artagnan means to do. Finally, d'Artagnan's father gives him his sword, which establishes the transfer of strength, honor, and pride from father to son.

In what ways does d'Artagnan succeed in or deviate from modeling himself after Treville in The Three Musketeers?

D'Artagnan follows M. d'Artagnan the elder's advice to emulate Treville, a fellow Gascon who also started with nothing. Treville not only has the respect of his men but the friendship of the king. He has the honor of a great reputation and makes plenty of money. D'Artagnan has made a good start earning the respect of his fellow guards and Musketeers, from defeating Jussac and Bernajoux to the bravado of the picnic at the bastion. The king receives him warmly with a monetary gift to show his satisfaction with d'Artagnan's performance against Cardinal Richelieu's guards. The queen also shows her gratitude for the retrieval of her diamonds by giving d'Artagnan a ring. D'Artagnan sees his efforts pay off in the form of an officer's commission by the end of the story, well on his way to realizing the ambitions shared by both Gascons. In a subtle difference, the cardinal favors d'Artagnan, boosting him to Musketeer and promoting him to lieutenant, and has him make friends with Rochefort. Perhaps d'Artagnan is more devoted to his own ambition than to the king, or perhaps he just heeds his father's advice to be loyal to both the king and the cardinal. Either way, Treville does not share d'Artagnan's tolerance of the cardinal.

In The Three Musketeers, what is the significance of Milady de Winter's carte blanche from Cardinal Richelieu, and why does Athos take it from her?

When Milady de Winter and Cardinal Richelieu meet in the Red Dovecot, he signs a document saying, "It is by my order and for the good of the state that the bearer of this has done what he has done." As long as she has this document in her possession, Milady can kill d'Artagnan and maybe the Musketeers, too, without going to jail. She asks for this guarantee in exchange for seeing to the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham. Athos confronts Milady and takes away this power, going a step further to threaten her life if she harms d'Artagnan in any way. Now, she cannot legally kill d'Artagnan, or anyone. Because the document says "the bearer" and not "Milady," the Musketeers can use this legal safety net themselves, which they do. When the cardinal arrests him, d'Artagnan brings the carte blanche to defend himself for Milady's execution.

How does the relationship between Milady de Winter and Lord de Winter change throughout The Three Musketeers?

The first appearance of Milady de Winter and Lord de Winter together is their argument in the street when d'Artagnan tries to step in and defend her. After a heated exchange, she hits Lord de Winter with her fan. He laughs at her. When she says he is her brother, it makes sense in light of how siblings behave: the tone becomes one of harmless bickering. Later, she clarifies that Lord de Winter is her brother-in-law and her child with his brother is his heir. Readers see Milady's greed through d'Artagnan's eyes, and also how it escapes genial Lord de Winter's notice. When that greed becomes a clear threat to Lord de Winter's life, d'Artagnan makes him aware of it, along with her other crimes. He succeeds in getting through to Lord de Winter who puts it all together with his own suspicions about his late brother's unexpected death. Next, Lord de Winter becomes Milady's jailer with plans to exile her. That is the end of their relationship—he is not fooled by her and she will not go quietly—the attempts at pleasantries are over. When she escapes, he pursues her to stop her from killing the Duke of Buckingham. When he is too late, he tells Felton that Milady will not be saved, meaning her soul; but more immediately, her life will not be spared. Nothing but death will stop Milady from her murderous rampage. Lord de Winter joins the pack in hunting Milady and delivers retribution.

What is the significance of the man who would not give his name when waiting to see the Duke of Buckingham in Chapter 59 of The Three Musketeers?

When Felton arrives at the Duke of Buckingham's door in Portsmouth with the intention of assassinating him, another visitor is waiting and most eager to see the duke. The visitor does not give a name or say who sent him. Patrick, the valet, gives preference to Felton who gives his name and, more importantly, who says he is there on business of Lord de Winter, a nobleman and military officer. It later becomes apparent the nameless visitor is Laporte, who is there to deliver the queen's warning saying the duke's life is in danger. Discretion dictates that Laporte could not give his name and certainly not the queen's. If he had gone in before Felton, the duke might have lived and invaded La Rochelle, wooing the queen and changing history in untold ways.

In Chapter 39 of The Three Musketeers, what purpose is served by d'Artagnan seeing Mme. Bonacieux's face in the carriage but not being allowed to react or save her?

D'Artagnan must see Mme. Bonacieux alive in order to preserve his hope, to keep looking for her. Readers cannot forget about her or d'Artagnan's sworn mission to save her. He doubts himself as to whether or not it was really Mme. Bonacieux, partly because it would be unbelievable that the brave, hotheaded Gascon would show restraint. Now he knows she has either been saved by intervention of the queen—and relocated to a hiding place—or she has been moved from one prison to another. Either way, her arrangement to see him and blow him a kiss suggests she still loves him.

What is the role of violence in The Three Musketeers?

Violence is part of everyday life for the guards of the king and Cardinal Richelieu. They duel with each other and with the general public over the slightest insult. The threat of violence is a way men control each other—even the sight of d'Artagnan's huge sword deters people from making trouble, and Bernajoux believes the mere mention of his name will scare away opponents. Athos certainly is a prime example, using the threat of violence and the corresponding actions to control Grimaud. D'Artagnan even follows his example and tries beating Planchet. In both cases, the loyalty of the servants to their masters becomes stronger. There are moments when violence is used as a form of entertainment, such as the swordplay d'Artagnan encounters when he first visits Treville. Another example is the wager at the bastion—the Musketeers shoot militia men and knock down a wall onto troops. They would do these things if they were defending the garrison, but they are really only there as a lark. The other role of the guards is to go to war, which is inherently violent. D'Artagnan finds himself not only defending against the inhabitants of La Rochelle but against assassins sent by Milady de Winter. He secures the loyalty of Brisemont by threatening, then sparing, his life. Milady's primary use of violence is to obtain revenge: she does not use assassins or knives to control anyone by threatening them; she just really wants them dead.

What does the color red signal in The Three Musketeers?

The color red signals the appearance of blood or bloody deeds. Milady de Winter has a red cushion in church, and Cardinal Richelieu has red curtains in his chambers. Most notably, the cardinal's cassock is red and Aramis calls him the "Red Duke," a nickname reminiscent of the devil. Mme. Bonacieux even speaks of the cardinal as Satan. Milady and the cardinal meet at an inn called the Red Dovecot for their most diabolical plotting. Before long, the search party follows a trail of blood to find Milady, and the color foreshadows further bloodshed: the mysterious red house and the red cloak belonging to the executioner, the storm-reddened moon rising behind Armentieres, and finally, the "red-tinted horizon" whereupon the execution of Milady takes place. It is as if the air itself is filled with blood, and the river will be as well soon after, as the executioner wraps the remains in his red cloak and dumps them off the ferry.

How does Tremouille advance the idea of honor in The Three Musketeers?

Tremouille originally sides with the cardinal's guard after the riot in front of his hotel. One of his employees is a relative of Bernajoux and many guardsmen frequent his hotel, so that is where his loyalty lies. He writes to Treville, saying the Musketeers are to blame. Treville confronts him in person and, finding Tremouille to be a nobleman, believes he can persuade him to side with the truth. They question the injured Bernajoux, smelling salts serving as almost a truth serum, and he gives an accurate account of the events, even if it incriminates him. Treville and Tremouille agree to let Bernajoux's answer be the final word. Similarly, the king agrees to take Tremouille at his word. The future of Treville, d'Artagnan, and all the Musketeers is riding on Tremouille being a noble man of honor and telling the truth as they agreed. Tremouille does so, even though his allegiances had been previously elsewhere. He lets the truth stand.

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