The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


In The Three Musketeers, a headstrong young man named d'Artagnan from the Gascony region of France, leaves home to seek his fortune in Paris in 1625. He dreams of joining the Musketeers, the king's elite guard. D'Artagnan visits fellow Gascon, also from the Gascony region of France, and captain of the Musketeers, Monsieur de Treville, in hopes of gaining an appointment based on a shared cultural bond. Three of Treville's Musketeers—Aramis, Porthos, and Athos—become friends with d'Artagnan. He also makes his first enemy, Rochefort, a spy for the Cardinal de Richelieu.

D'Artagnan's first adventure involves helping his landlord Bonacieux whose wife, one of the queen's confidantes, has been abducted by Rochefort. When Madame (Mme.) Bonacieux escapes, she enlists d'Artagnan's help in retrieving the queen's diamonds. The queen had impulsively given them to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham. By the time d'Artagnan returns from England and saves the queen's honor, he and Mme. Bonacieux are in love. Unfortunately, Rochefort abducts her again.

Athos, usually private and taciturn, reveals to d'Artagnan he had been the lord of an estate and married the curate's young sister—only to have her hanged after discovering she was a criminal.

Meanwhile, the Englishman Lord de Winter introduces d'Artagnan to his sister-in-law Milady de Winter, whom d'Artagnan recognizes as a spy for the cardinal. Captivated by her beauty and charm, d'Artagnan becomes infatuated with Milady. She, on the other hand, loathes d'Artagnan because he did not kill Lord de Winter in a duel when she wanted Lord de Winter's money. Milady loves the Comte de Wardes, so d'Artagnan gets his revenge by pretending to be the Comte. When the truth is revealed, Milady tries to kill d'Artagnan with a knife, but not before he sees a fleur-de-lis on her shoulder. D'Artagnan suspects Milady is Athos's wife, who is still very much alive.

D'Artagnan marches off to the siege at La Rochelle with his company under Dessessart's command. Milady sends assassins after d'Artagnan, but he survives their attempts on his life. Then she sends poisoned wine to d'Artagnan at the encampment, but he is interrupted before he drinks it.

The three Musketeers overhear Milady and the cardinal plotting to kill the duke. Milady mentions also wanting to kill d'Artagnan. Hearing her voice, Athos confirms Milady is his wife. The three Musketeers relate all they heard to d'Artagnan during a picnic at the bastion, while offhandedly fighting the enemy. D'Artagnan adds Milady wants to kill Lord de Winter, as well, so they must warn the duke and Lord de Winter. A letter must be carried to England for Lord de Winter, and another letter must go to Aramis's mistress and the queen's best friend, Madame de Chevreuse. The warning will be passed on to the queen, who will pass it on to the duke. Around this time, d'Artagnan is invited to join the Musketeers.

Lord de Winter captures Milady as soon as her boat arrives in England and holds her captive in his castle. He employs his trusted friend, the steadfast and incorruptible Felton, to guard Milady, certain that her usual seductions will fail on him. Milady finds a way to manipulate Felton by appealing to his Puritan faith. She fakes religious fervor and tells a fabricated story about the duke holding her prisoner and drugging her in the night. Puritans despise the duke. This pushes Felton, newly obsessed with Milady, to seek vengeance on the duke. He breaks her out of prison.

Milady drops off Felton in Portsmouth to assassinate the duke and heads straight to the convent in Bethune where Mme. Bonacieux has been hidden. Milady begins to control Mme. Bonacieux for a protracted revenge plan, but rushes ahead when she sees d'Artagnan and the Musketeers coming down the street. She quickly poisons Mme. Bonacieux and escapes.

Lord de Winter has been on Milady's trail since she broke out of the castle. He joins d'Artagnan and the Musketeers as they hunt Milady. Athos brings a mysterious stranger in a red cloak into the group. They confront Milady, and the red-cloaked stranger terrifies her. The executioner of Lille, who branded her, tells the backstory of Milady ruining his brother, who then killed himself. They have an impromptu trial and sentence Milady to death. The executioner beheads her.

Back in Paris, d'Artagnan is arrested by the cardinal who calls him an assassin. After revealing the crimes committed by Milady, the cardinal changes his mind and gives d'Artagnan a commission to be an officer in the Musketeers. D'Artagnan's dreams of glory and fortune are fulfilled.

The Three Musketeers Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action


1 D'Artagnan leaves home, meets Aramis, Porthos, and Athos.

Rising Action

2 D'Artagnan saves Madame Bonacieux.

3 The queen gives diamonds to the duke.

4 D'Artagnan retrieves the diamonds.

5 Rochefort abducts Madame Bonacieux again.

6 D'Artagnan pretends to be the Comte de Wardes.

7 Milady tries to kill d'Artagnan with a knife.

8 Milady sends assassins and poison to kill d'Artagnan.

9 Milady and the cardinal plot to kill the duke.

10 Lord de Winter and the duke hear their lives are threatened.


11 Lord de Winter captures Milady.

Falling Action

12 Milady seduces Felton to kill the duke.

13 The duke is killed, and Milady kills Madame Bonacieux.

14 Milady is sentenced to death and executed.


15 The cardinal makes d'Artagnan a lieutenant.

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