The Three Musketeers By Alexandre Dumas Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapters 2-4

Summary

Monsieur de Treville the captain of the King's Musketeers, is a genuine and loyal friend to the king, who in turn thoroughly values Treville's loyalty and devotion. Treville began his career as a brave, loyal young Gascon, one very much like d'Artagnan, and now, as captain of the King's Musketeers, he holds one of the country's most powerful and prestigious posts. In fact, the King's Musketeers have become so famous that Cardinal Richelieu, not to be outdone by the king, has established his own company of guards; both men, the king and the cardinal, searched throughout the French countryside for the bravest and most courageous men.

When d'Artagnan calls upon Monsieur de Treville, he finds a number of musketeers awaiting audiences with this powerful man, and he listens in particular to two musketeers who are bantering with each other in a friendly manner. One of them is Porthos, dressed rather pompously; the other is Aramis, dressed more conservatively. Ararnis states that he is waiting for the queen to have an heir to the throne; afterward, he will resign from the musketeers and begin studying for the priesthood. Their conversation is interrupted when it is announced that Monsieur de Treville, will receive d'Artagnan.

As d'Artagnan enters, he sees that Monsieur de Treville, is in a bad mood. The exalted gentleman immediately calls for Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Porthos and Aramis enter and are told that the cardinal informed the king that they, as well as Athos, were arrested by the cardinal's guards in a tavern where they were causing a disturbance. Coolly, but inwardly enraged, Treville, vows that he "won't have [his] musketeers going to low taverns, picking quarrels, fighting in the street, and being laughed at by the cardinal's guards."

Porthos explains that they were taken by surprise, that two of their group were killed, and that Athos was wounded before they had a chance to draw their swords — thus, it was six against three. Yet even with those odds, Aramis killed one of the cardinal's guards with the guard's own sword. At that moment, the wounded and pale Athos appears, but before he can say much, he collapses. Treville, sends for doctors to have Athos tended to and dismisses the two musketeers.

Alone with Treville, d'Artagnan describes his desire to be a musketeer, the letter of introduction that was stolen, and the mysterious nobleman who stole it. Treville, is curious; he asks d'Artagnan to describe the man, and afterward Treville, is sure of the man's identity: the unidentified nobleman is none other than the cardinal's right-hand man (later identified as Count de Rochefort). D'Artagnan asks for the name of the mysterious nobleman, but Treville, refuses to reveal it.

He tells d'Artagnan to forget the man and to walk on the other side of the street — if necessary — to avoid him.

D'Artagnan then describes the woman whom the nobleman referred to as "Milady," and it is obvious that Treville also knows the identity of the mysterious lady. Treville turns to write a letter commending d'Artagnan to the Royal Academy when d'Artagnan suddenly spies the mysterious "man from Meung" across the street. Without waiting for the letter of recommendation, he rushes out.

Running after the mystery man, d'Artagnan inadvertently collides with Athos, reinjuring Athos's wounded shoulder; Athos is furious and challenges d'Artagnan to a duel at noon. Still chasing the mysterious "man from Meung," d'Artagnan runs headlong into the pompous Porthos and discovers that his magnificent golden shoulder belt is a fraud; it is only partly gold. Infuriated, Porthos challenges d'Artagnan to a duel at 1 p.m. Again, d'Artagnan takes up the pursuit, only to discover that he has lost his man. At this very moment, though, he sees Aramis talking to some other musketeers, and he notices that Aramis is standing on a lady's elegant handkerchief. D'Artagnan retrieves the handkerchief and gives it to Aramis, who glares at him. After the guards leave, Aramis reprimands d'Artagnan for being so "ungallant" and bringing attention to the lady's handkerchief. He promises to teach d'Artagnan a lesson; he challenges him to a duel at 2 p.m.

Analysis

Dumas stresses the importance of d'Artagnan's being a Gascon by paralleling his early years with Treville's early years. Like d'Artagnan, Treville is also a Gascon. Possessing the same courageous and adventuresome qualities that d'Artagnan possesses, Treville has risen to be one of the most powerful men in France. Thus we can anticipate that d'Artagnan, who is also endowed with quick-witted daring, shrewd, intelligent bravery, and courageous loyalty, will use these qualities to become a success in Paris.

In this world of the 1620s, perhaps the most significant attribute that both Treville and d'Artagnan possess is their absolute sense of loyalty and devotion to either a person or a cause. Indeed, Treville's absolute devotion to his king is part of his power. Likewise, we will soon see that d'Artagnan is the type of man who is absolutely loyal to his friends; in the upcoming episode when the king gives d'Artagnan forty pistoles, d'Artagnan immediately divides the money with Athos, Porthos, and Aramis because of his instantaneous sense of loyalty to them. Later, d'Artagnan's devotion and loyalty to the queen will motivate many of his actions.

Since Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — the three musketeers — share many similarities, it is important to note their differences. All of them have assumed aliases, but we sense that only Athos has noble blood; he conducts himself as a young nobleman might. Porthos, on the other hand, relishes in the intrigues of society, and he prides himself on his many romantic conquests; later, when he is in need of money, he will use his charm and good looks to obtain money from a wealthy woman. In contrast, Aramis is passing his time as a musketeer only until the queen provides an heir for the realm; afterward, Aramis will enter the priesthood. Then we many other differences in the men that will be noted later, but, for the present, these differences are sufficient to help us readily distinguish one from the other.

Ironically, just as d'Artagnan is about to receive Treville's recommendation for the Royal Academy, the mysterious "man from Meung" reenters d'Artagnan's life — causing d'Artagnan to dash out of Treville's house without the new letter of recommendation. In only minutes, d'Artagnan re-wounds Athos, rushes into the proud Porthos and reveals the man's fraudulent golden shoulder belt, and, finally, he contradicts Aramis about the ownership of a lady's batiste handkerchief. In less than twenty-four hours after arriving in Paris, d'Artagnan finds himself challenged to duels by three of the greatest swordsmen in France.

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