The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas: Readalong Post II

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guys, this is going to be another lazy-lazy post. I'm not sure exactly why, but this week is leaving me totally drained. At least the semester is almost over!

I found myself enjoying the second half of the book much more than the first half. In the first half, the Three Musketeers and D'Artagnan seemed to just be messing around, spending all their money on foolish things and picking fights. The second half of the novel seemed much more serious to me. Suddenly, they had a goal (at times tenuously defined, it is true) - they wanted to protect Madame Bonacieux, the Duke of Buckingham (well, some of them wanted to do that...) and above all, D'Artagnan. They have a defined nemesis - while they are always more or less against the cardinal, Milady is their true enemy, and it is she against whom they are fighting. Once the Musketeers had a purpose, I saw a point in their escapades. They still did stupid things, but at least they were doing something other than trying to earn money, buying horses, losing the horses through gambling, etc. (How many times did that happen?)

In this more purposeful section, I noticed a strong disparity between the Musketeers - almost as if they were cut in half and divided into two groups. On one side of the spectrum we have Aramis and Porthos. These men are comical and (more) foolish. Porthos is obsessed with women, money, and fashion. He is a bumbling, dramatic man (but does have his good points). Aramis is more serious, but also foolish because he holds so fiercely to his ideal of becoming a priest, and yet cannot stay away from women. One the other side of the divide, we have Athos and D'Artagnan - also made fools by women, it is true, but able to calculate, to plan their next advances. I really enjoyed the character of Athos, with his quiet intensity and his ability to attend to his silent servant with hand-gestures. And while D'Artagnan is young and overly passionate in this story, it's obvious that he is intelligent and brave enough to plan his own destiny.

As I glanced through that last paragraph, I realized that in different ways, the main weakness of all the Musketeers (I just automatically consider D'Artagnan as a Musketeer) involves women. Porthos needs money, and he can only get money by seducing women. Aramis believes he is called to a holy life, but keeps messing around and putting off his ordination - because of women. Athos drinks all the time because a woman ruined his life, and D'Artagnan is in agony because of the two women he falls in love with in the story. So it makes sense that the arch-nemesis of the Musketeers is a woman, Milady Clarik.

I have always said that Kathy in East of Eden by John Steinbeck was the most evil character I have ever read, but Milady could give her a run for her money. Armed with beauty, a sweet voice, and a razor sharp desire for revenge, Milady ensnares men with her charms and then leaves them to die. Even though it was horrible, I was fascinated by how carefully plotted Milady's attacks were and the way she was able to be so sure of the effect of her charms. At the same time, I was bothered that Dumas chose to portray women as the downfall of men. I really think this was a major theme of the novel. I even think Dumas quoted some proverb about women being the downfall of men... but I'm too lazy to look it up now!

To sum up... this book was a decent read, but longer than it was enjoyable. Things got better toward the end. There are multiple sequels to this novel that are waiting for me on my Kindle. I think I need a little break, but I'll be curious to see if the musketeers ever grow up. I don't think Porthos will.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...