The Three Musketeers Summary

Alexandre Dumas

The Three Musketeers

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The Three Musketeers Summary

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The Three Musketeers is a novel written by Alexander Dumas about the adventures of a young man named D’Artagnan after he leaves his home to join the Musketeers of the Guard. It was published as a serial from March to July 1844.

The story begins with D’Artagnan traveling from his hometown to Paris to join the Musketeers. On the way, an older man insults his horse, and D’Artagnan is so insulted he demands a duel. The older man’s companions beat D’Artagnan senseless and break his sword. They steal his letter of introduction to the commander of the Musketeers, Monsieur de Tréville. D’Artagnan vows to avenge himself. The man, as it turns out, is the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu.

Once he reaches Paris, his application is politely refused without his letter of introduction. The commander writes a letter of introduction for him to an academy that might prepare him for the guard, but D’Artagnan sees Rochefort in the street and runs after him. In the process, he offends three different Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. They demand satisfaction, and he agrees to meet each for a duel. To his surprise, when Athos appears for his duel, his seconds are none other than Porthos and Aramis. They are shocked that this man plans to duel with all three of them. However, the guards appear and arrest the four men for illegal dueling. They fight and seriously wound one of the top fighters of the Cardinal. The king appoints D’Artagnan to the king’s guards when he hears of this.

D’Artagnan hires a servant, and prepares to work in this company. He finds an apartment and his landlord tells him of his wife’s (Madame Constance Bonacieux) kidnapping. After her release, D’Artagnan falls madly in love with her. He discovers that she works for the Queen of France, who is conducting an affair with the Duke of Buckingham.

As it turns out, the queen gave a pair of diamond studs, a gift from the king, to the Duke as a keepsake. Richelieu, who wishes war with England, tries to take advantage of this, and conspires to have the king request that the queen wear the diamonds to a party. D’Artagnan intercedes giving the Duke time to provide replacements and preserve the queen’s honor.

Shortly after, D’Artagnan has an affair with Madame Bonacieux until she is imprisoned by the cardinal. D’Artagnan and his friends return to Paris where he meets Milady de Winter, one of the Cardinal’s agents. He becomes infatuated with her until her maid reveals that Milady doesn’t care for him. He enters her chambers in disguise and in the ensuing tryst, he discovers a fleur-de-lis branded on her shoulder revealing her to be a felon. When she discovers the truth, she tries to kill him, but he escapes.

He is informed that the queen has rescued Constance from prison. He and the other musketeers overhear the Cardinal asking Milady to murder the Duke of Buckingham who is a supporter of the protestant rebels. Richelieu then gives a letter to Milady, excusing her actions as an official request. Athos takes the letter, and in the morning he bets that the three musketeers and D’Artagnan can hold the bastion against the rebels for an hour until they decide what to do. They are successful, and they warn Lord de Winter and the Duke of what is coming.

Milady is arrested and taken to prison where she seduces her guard, who lets her go. She persuades him to kill the Duke instead. She then hides in a convent where Constance is staying, and takes revenge on D’Artagnan by poisoning and killing her.

She is arrested again before she can reach Richelieu and put on trial with the executioner present. She is executed for her crimes, and D’Artagnan and the three musketeers return to the siege. D’Artagnan is arrested, but he presents Milady’s letter of pardon as his own and is set free. He is presented a promotion letter with the name intentionally left blank. He offers it to the three musketeers, but each turns it down. D’Artagnan receives the promotion with a heavy heart.

The primary theme of the novel is friendship. The three friends, and later D’Artagnan, have an idealized relationship in which they never argue and are always available for each other. This deep bond allows them to join forces to defeat quite a few nefarious plots. Friendship is the reason that good triumphs over evil.

Love is also idealized, and all of the men at one point or another fall instantly and madly in love. It doesn’t seem to matter if people are already married, as love is portrayed as a force that overcomes all others. Beautiful women are supposed to be worshipped, and there is no deed too great to be done for a beautiful woman.

Loyalty cannot be taken lightly. It is a highly prized quality, and it is difficult to earn. It drives the story forward. Without loyalty, the bonds of friendship wouldn’t hold as strong and evil might not be overcome. They demonstrate their loyalty through daring, life-threatening acts. In the world of The Three Musketeers, heroes prevail through loyalty, bravery, and friendship. They love quickly and with everything. It is impossible for evil to triumph because they never abandon each other or their code of honor.