The Three Musketeers (novel)

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The Three Musketeers
The three Musketeers, give or take a Gascon.
Original Title: Les Trois Mousquetaires
Written by: Alexandre Dumas
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Historical fiction, Swashbuckler
Series: The d'Artagnan Romances
Followed by: Twenty Years After
First published: 1844
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All for one and one for all!

Les trois mousquetaires. One of the most famous pieces of French Literature, written by Alexandre Dumas (the father), the author of The Count of Monte Cristo.

In the year 1625, d'Artagnan, the son of a noble but poor family, left his home in Gascony and headed to Paris to follow a dream; become a Musketeer of the Guard, one of the most prestigious military units in the whole of France. Armed with only his courage and a letter of introduction from his father, d'Artagnan heads out.

Though he loses the letter in an altercation with a mysterious man in a black cape with a scar on his face, d'Artagnan presses on and meets the titular three musketeers: leader and father-figure / Lancer Athos, the vain and famously gluttonous/ Big Guy Porthos, and The Casanova / Smart Guy Aramis.

Together, they have a series of swashbuckling adventures in France.

The main antagonists are Cardinal Richelieu and his agent, Milady de Winter. D'Artagnan's Love Interest is Damsel in Distress Madame Bonacieux, at least while he is not being seduced by Milady.

The book has been adapted for TV and film many times. It has two sequels, which are much less well known. However, some parts of one particular subplot in the second sequel, related to the imprisoned twin brother of Louis XIV, have "inspired" several films with the title The Man in the Iron Mask.

Adaptations and spin-offs with their own pages include:

The book and its sequels provide examples of these tropes:
  • The Ace: Athos is essentially the perfect gentleman. His is born into high rank, has impeccable manners, a thorough education, and outstanding skill at arms. However, he also spends a lot of his life squandering his quality due to poor luck and a morose personality. He's also a pretty lousy hangman.
  • The Alleged Steed: d'Artagnan's yellow horse, which he disposes of as soon as he reaches Paris.
    • Which shows up again when Porthos is given a insult by his mistress.
    • In the 1921 silent film, d'Artagnan (Douglas Fairbanks) kisses the "embarrassing horse" goodbye after trading him for a new hat.
  • Artistic License History: Dumas was never a man to let the facts interfere with a good story. Particularly notable is that the entire first novel of the series is an anachronism: the name of D'Artagnan first appears in the records of the musketeers in 1633, five years after the novel ends and nearly a decade after Dumas's hero presents himself to M. de Treville. (Speaking of whom, the real Treville was himself a new musketeer in 1625, and wasn't made captain of the musketeers until, again, after the first novel ends.) Of the three musketeers after whom the novel is named, suffice it to say that they are entirely fictional creations with real names attached, and if they are ever historically accurate it is only by accident.
  • Badass Bookworm: Aramis, despite being a thorough womanizer and elite soldier, is also an academic with a passion for the clergy.
  • Badass Creed: "All for one and one for all!"
  • Band of Brothers: Their Badass Creed is more than just a creed. It's their very lives.
  • Bed Trick: d'Artagnan to Milady. She does not take it well when she finds out.
  • Begone Bribe: In Twenty Years After, Aramis relates an anecdote about a time when Cardinal Mazarin got into a disagreement with a prince whose alliance he desired:

... "The prince immediately sent fifty thousand livres to Mazarin, begging him never to write to him again, and offering twenty thousand livres in addition if he engaged never to speak to him again. What did Mazarin do?"
"He took offence?" said Athos.
"He beat the messenger?" said Porthos.
"He took the money?" said d'Artagnan.
"You have guessed right, d'Artagnan," said Aramis.

  • The Big Guy: Porthos, whose size and strength seems to grow with each book.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the first book, the titular heroes (plus d'Artagnan) win out against Milday and Richelieu, but at the cost of the death of Madame Bonacieux, d'Artagnan's love interest, not to mention how the trial of Milady has soiled the soldier's life for his three friends, leaving him alone within the Musketeers by book's end
    • The first sequel, Twenty Years After, is just as bad. While they manage to end the Fronde civil war for now, and d'Artagnan gets promoted to Captain-Lieutenant of the Musketeers, the heroes fail to save Charles I, Athos kills what is hinted to be his son by Milady, Monsieur Bonacieux shows up, as if only to remind d'Artagnan of Madame Bonacieux, and d'Artagnan accidentally kills his friend Rochefort.
    • The final book, Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, is an outright crapsack ending.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Milady de Winter. Athos attempts to warn d'Artagnan against blonde women because they all remind him of his undead wife. It doesn't work.
  • Bodyguards: All of the musketeers, especially d'Artagnan, served as bodyguards to Louis XIV.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Porthos to some extent, and this trait is usually his primary characterization for all adaptations.
  • Book Dumb: d'Artagnan has no interest in academia, yet he's the group's idea man.
  • Bowdlerise: most adaptations of the book tend to portray D'Artagnan and the Musketeers as much more loveable than they are in the book, omiting such "small details" as their routinely seducing rich married women to fleece them out of their money, or making Constance into Bonacieux's daughter, rather than his wife. In most adaptations, Athos merely banishes Milady from his lands (or, as in the 1993 Disney version, turns her in) instead of hanging her.
  • Butt Monkey: Kitty
  • The Cavalier Years
  • The Chessmaster: Aramis in the third book, arguably Richelieu as well.
  • Chew Out Fake Out: When they're caught brawling with The Cardinal's Guard.
  • Children Raise You: They also cure alcoholism.
  • Corrupt Church: the Jesuits.
  • Crash Into Hello: This is how d'Artagnan first meets Athos and Porthos, resulting in him being challenged to two duels.
  • Cry Into Chest: d'Artagnan to Athos when Constance is killed. During the Cooldown Hug, Athos says, "...would I could weep as you do."
  • Damsel in Distress: Constance Bonacieux
  • Deadpan Snarker The narrator isn't above taking potshots at d'Artagnan at the beginning of the book.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After d'Artagnan defeats Rochefort, The Dragon of Richelieu, in several duels, the two become best friends.
  • Does Not Know His Own Weight: Porthos once destroys a chair just by sitting in it. Made even funnier by his deadpan delivery of "Excuse me, but I need a new chair, I've broken this one".
  • Downer Ending: The final book, Le Vicomte de Bragelonne. Raoul loses his love interest to King Louis XIV, and heads off to war to die. When news of Raoul's death comes, Athos dies of sorrow. Aramis's scheme with the Man in the Iron Mask fails and he is forced into exile in Spain, and Porthos dies in the escape. d'Artagnan, after finally becoming the Marshal of France, is killed by a stray bullet during a siege.
  • The Dragon: Rochefort, to Richelieu. Ironically, one could say that d'Artagnan becomes this to Mazarin.
  • Driven to Suicide, By Cop: Raoul.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Athos, constantly and epically.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Porthos in Locmaria.
  • Evil Chancellor: Richelieu, and Mazarin. While they both are quite loyal to France, having a King deciding things is quite unnecessary, thank you very much. This trait is played to the hilt with Richelieu in adaptations that turn him into the main villain. In the books, Mazarin develops something of an unfair reputation as this trope due to his foreign nationality, although he also embezzles large amounts of money and gets away with it. In the final book, Colbert takes this position, compared to the most cavalier Finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet, and uses his financial influence to turn the king against Fouquet. Subverted in that it is Colbert's policies which subsequently make the country rich, militarily powerful, and capable of waging a foreign war in which D'Artagnan finally gets to be promoted to Field Marshal, while Fouquet - likeable as he was - had been embezzling the national wealth and spending it on grandiosely ornamental but ultimately useless architecture such as the chateau of Vaux-la-Vicomte or the fortifications of Belle-Isle, and it has to be said that he has richly (quite literally) earned his downfall.
  • Face Heel Turn: Aramis in the final book (The Man in the Iron Mask), in which, *not* to be confused with the film, he alone (with Porthos tricked into it as dumb muscle) initiates the plot to replace the King with his long-imprisoned twin brother - which is actually foiled with D'Artagnan's assistance, although Fouquet takes the major credit and thus postpones his downfall by a few days. The point being that it turns out the kingdom is best served by having the original Louis as king, Colbert as finance minister, and D'Artagnan in charge of the army, than it ever would have been served by his brother who, knowing nothing about the state of affairs but what Aramis told him, would have had to rely completely on Aramis and leave the likeable but corrupt Fouquet to embezzle and squander what was left of the treasury, and that D'Artagnan's loyalty to Louis ends up being the RIGHT choice, and Aramis's plot therefore makes him a traitor and a true Face Heel Turn since he betrays not only his King but also the whole Musketeers group by an act that he knew neither D'Artagnan nor Athos could be persuaded into, and Porthos only by trickery. And the irony being that Fouquet plays a major role in saving Louis even though he knows Louis is working for his downfall, and it was in his interest to cooperate with the substitution: and Louis's first act after being saved is to dispose of Fouquet in favour of Colbert.
  • A Father to His Men: Monsieur de Treville.
  • Femme Fatale: Milady, one of literature's great villainesses. To much lesser extent, also Madame de Chevreuse.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: When d'Artagan first meets up with the three musketeers, in sequence, he ends up having to face a duel with each. It's when the Cardinal's men try to arrest them and they fight them off that the four of them become friends.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flamboyant Gay: Monsieur and the Chevalier de Lorraine.
  • Fleur-de-Lis: Branded onto the shoulder of Milady to show that she is a convicted criminal.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: King Charles in the second book.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Athos: Phlegmatic, Porthos: Choleric, Aramis: Melancholic, d'Artagnan: Sanguine.
  • Freudian Trio: Porthos (id), Athos (ego), Aramis (superego).
  • Funetik Aksent: Used in the original French, with d'Artagnan's Gascon accent coming out when he exclaims, "Mordioux!" The Swiss soldiers also talk funny. ("La graisse te l'oie, il est très ponne avec des gonfitures.")
  • Gay Paree: The setting for much of the series.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Rochefort is a villain in the first book and is recognized by his facial scar.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Athos, but he has a better excuse than most.
  • The Hero: d'Artagnan
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In the books, Richelieu is an adversary of the Musketeers, though not an actual villain. In many adaptations, he's turned into the Big Bad. The same goes for Mazarin and Colbert.
    • Averted with Oliver Cromwell. While he's definitely an antagonist, he is nothing compared to the outright villain Mordaunt.
  • I Have Many Names: Milady. Also the titular Three Musketeers, as they all use aliases, and later take up new titles.
  • I Have This Friend: Athos tells one of these about a young nobleman of Berry.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Gascons are almost universally poor. Athos retains only a few traces of his high birth, including a Cool Sword Porthos would trade at least one arm for.
    • In the final book, King Louis XIV almost counts. The royal coffers are nearly empty. Colbert uses this to manipulate the king against the very rich Finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet.
  • In Name Only: As part of providing verisimilitude to his Very Loosely Based on a True Story "memoir", Courtilz de Sandras looked up muster rolls of various military companies of the period and chose some obscure names at random to provide D'Artagnan with three fictional friends.
  • The Ingenue: Louise de La Vallière
  • Interrupted Suicide: d'Artagnan in the later book, believe it or not. And the person who stops him? Louis XIV.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Chapter 65 begins with this phrase (well, "c'etait une nuit orageuse et sombre" in the original).
  • It's All Junk: The much-passed around sapphire ring, at least to the original owner.
  • Jail Bake: Used in Twenty Years After to free the Duke of Beaufort.
  • Jumped At the Call: d'Artagnan leaves home as soon as he is an adult to find his fortune with his sword arm.
    • Raoul as well. In the second book, as soon as he is sent off by Athos, he jumps into the Fronde civil war, although his youth leads him to make a few bad calls.
  • Karma Houdini: Richelieu, despite opposing the Musketeers through most of the first book, winds up just as powerful as he was when the book started. He can even give d'Artagnan a promotion. And in the second book, Athos even wishes he were alive again instead of Mazarin. This is presumably as the real Richelieu stayed in favour with the king. In adaptations that make him into the Big Bad, however, he is usually defeated.
  • Lawful Stupid: Nicolas Fouquet in the third novel, although it may be a case of Honor Before Reason (since he saves King Louis from the plot to replace him, knowing that this will mean his own downfall as Louis and Colbert work against him.) Also, Athos in the later books displays some elements of that and Honor Before Reason.
  • Load-Bearing Hero
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Athos very nearly does this to Grimaud in a dice game after losing two horses and quite a lot of other stuff. D'Artagnan is not amused to find his diamond ring playing a prominent role in the story.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Athos is really the father of his ward Raoul, but he never tells him, disclosing the information only to Raoul's mother (who is also Aramis' former mistress).
  • Malaproper: M. de Beaufort.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Milady.
  • Mark of Shame: Milady's Fleur-de-Lis brand marks her as a criminal.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Athos, unless he's on a real bender.
  • Perpetual Poverty: All four protagonists, especially in the first novel.
  • Poisonous Captive: Milady de Winter seduces her jailer and twists him into an assassin that kills the Duke of Buckingham.
  • Praetorian Guard: The King's Musketeers and the Cardinal's guards.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mordaunt in the second book. He kills his uncle for disinheriting him, and acts as the executioner for Charles I for the same reason. He also kills the executioner of Lille for murdering Milady (while posing as a monk and denying him absolution!). He then spends the rest of the book trying to kill the Musketeers.
  • Rookie Red Ranger
  • Save the Villain: Played straight and then subverted in the second book. Athos tries to save the drowning Mordaunt. Mordaunt drags him under water, and Athos is ultimately forced to stab him to escape.
  • Sexy Priest: Aramis
  • Shot in the Ass: Poor Mousqueton... hee hee.
  • Signature Device: The rapiers. Also in most adaptations, the hats with the plumes.
  • Slave Brand: Milady de Winter has a brand marking her as a convicted criminal.
  • Sword Fight: Despite being Musketeers, the heroes usually favor their swords. This changes somewhat when we see them on the battlefield. This is justified though by the weapons technology of the time which required a lengthy reloading process between shots (but they have their servants for that).
    • That and because nobles are officers. Pikes and muskets are commoners weapons. Nobles just tell them when to fire.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: D'Artagnan receives a case of wine along with a note that indicates it's from his fellow musketeers. Before he can drink any of it, an enemy Mook drinks some and was poisoned wine sent by Milady to kill him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: EVERYONE in the sequel Twenty Years After, as a result of Character Development. Athos is wiser, Porthos is stronger, Aramis is far more cunning, and d'Artagnan has gone from naive to a brilliant strategist. Two of their servants also take a level. Porthos and Aramis's respective servants, however, do not.
    • Although it's obvious that Mous(que)ton, Porthos's servant, has more adventuring experience than the much younger Blaisois.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend
  • The Vamp: Milady.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Dumas's novel is based on Courtilz's novel, which is very loosely based on a true story. D'Artagnan was a real man, and even some of the fictional characters are based on real people—or at least their names.
  • The Voiceless: Grimaud
  • Wild Mass Guessing: According to The Other Wiki, going back as far as the 1950s, it has been considered that Milady's Fleur-de-Lis was actually meant as a symbol that she was a hermaphrodite, (the idea being that the criminal nature of the Fleur-de-Lis alone isn't enough to justify the extreme revulsion it induces in those that discover it) and was inspired by the historical figure the Chevalier d'Éon. (This information has since been removed from The Other Wiki.)
  • You Killed My Mother: Mordaunt. Our heroes try to explain what a murderous bitch Milady was, but Mordaunt makes it clear he just doesn't care.
Other adaptations provide examples of:

Oh yeah, and they got a candy bar named after them.

  1. "Albert" is pronounced "Al-bear"