In The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, themes are established very early in the story through
the protagonist and antagonist. D’Artagnan, the protagonist, is an intelligent young man looking to become a musketeer.
Milady (Lady de Winter), the antagonist, is a Cardinalist agent working against the queen. The early meeting between these
two characters sets up many themes in the story. These themes include chivalry, immorality, love, and a quest.
D’Artagnan begins the story on a quest to become a musketeer. He makes enemies
with them instead and schedules duels with them. Cardinalist guards forbid them from fighting, but the musketeers
and D’Artagnan fight and defeat them. D’Artagnan becomes a good friend of the musketeers and eventually becomes
very involved with them. The musketeers are then on a quest to defend the queens affairs and their
country, France. They travel throughout the country following and fighting
Cardinalist agents such as Milady.
The immoral aspects of the story come through when D’Artagnan tricks Milady into making love
with him in order to gain information. Later in the story, Milady is tried by the Musketeers and found guilty, even though
they held no power in making that decision. The musketeers hung Milady and left her to die, showing their immorality and break
played a key role in musketeers and many other people’s lives. They were expected to keep a code of honor when performing
their duties, but sometimes this moral code is forgotten. D’Artagnan lies to two women about his feelings and identity
in order to find out important information. “He also has a zest for love and romance, and he generally follows the chivalrous
ideals of his class, although like many energetic young men, he sometimes tosses these ideals aside when he sees a pretty
face” (Gale, 1). But when he must protect Madame Bonacieux, he is unsuccessful in saving her life because of the code.
Instead of saving her, he was expected to protect the Queen’s affairs ahead of his own love.
The final theme, love, is shown throughout the book. All of the musketeers seem to have a mysterious
or open relationship with a woman. D’Artagnan loves Madame Bonacieux, even though she is married. He also misleads women
into thinking he loves them for personal gain. The whole story is a romantic tale, but love is not always valued as it should
be and is lost in the end.