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The Three Musketeers

Further Study

Study Questions

Further Study Study Questions

What does it indicate about Dumas’s focus in storytelling that the tale of intrigue, the diamond brooch, occupies Part I of his novel, whereas the climactic Part II is not concerned with a political matter, but simply with the Musketeers' fight against Milady?

Dumas wrote novels set in history, not novels of history. He delighted in the opportunity to mingle his characters with historical characters and, occasionally, to provide some new explanation for a historical occurrence. But history was always a background to his story. So it makes sense that the more historical story, directly involving historical figures and an actual historical event, should be the introduction to the true meat of Dumas’s story, a personal tale of brutal chase, capture, and vengeance upon Milady by the Musketeers.

Examine all of the innkeepers presented by Dumas. Are there any common traits, if so, what? How might you explain Dumas’s presentation of these people?

To answer this question, remember that Dumas did borrow certain elements of characterization from the Romance. The innkeepers are a good example of this--they are broad, and are treated very unfairly. It is alright for the main characters to treat them severely, and they are all depicted as comic relief--slavish, greedy, and dim. Throughout the book, often for this purpose, comic relief, Dumas does occasionally rely on stock characterizations to carry a scene. One should be aware of this, and look for the differences between these characterizations and Dumas’s more careful build of his primary characters.

Goethe wrote "Romanticism is disease." What are the dangers and pitfalls of Romanticism and how much does Dumas fall into them?

Like any form, Romanticism has strengths and weaknesses. Its strengths, which Dumas plays well, are its ability to transport a reader away from everyday concerns, and the way it affords the author the opportunity to tell a truly huge story, in emotional and narrative terms. The major corresponding disadvantages are that the breadth of Romanticism often kills detail, the emotionality of Romanticism often kills rationality, and that the eventfulness of Romanticism often kills true drama. Dumas manages to avoid this latter problem almost completely; it was his unique genius to be able to write astonishingly paced stories that never lag, and that vary enough never to seem repetitive in their adventurousness. Still, the first two pitfalls--lack of detail and excessive reliance on emotionality--do cause the story to stumble. Even the main characters are not, specifically speaking, well developed. Dumas’s best characters are those that we clearly identify and understand, or that we very explicitly don't understand, and are waiting to.

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