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Similarities and Differences between the Heroes of Alexandre Dumas

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    Edmond Dantès and d’Artagnan: The Similarities and Differences between the Heroes of Alexandre Dumas

                It is expected that two works from the same author will result in various similarities.  The resemblance may be intentional or not, but the likeness comes with having the same individual responsible for two different literary pieces.  One example would be Alexandre Dumas.  He had penned “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers.”  The main characters of these novels are as distinct the stories they are included in.  However, they also share several similarities.  While Edmond Dantès and d’Artagnan are different as characters, they are also similar in many aspects.

                Alexandre Dumas wrote “The Count of Monte Cristo,” wherein Edmond Dantès is the lead character.  He also wrote “The Three Musketeers,” whose heroes were said to have reflected the author’s personality (Maurois 122).  The character named d’Artagnan is the protagonist.  One of the similarities of both characters is their youth.  In both his novels, Dumas created young men as the center of the plot.  In the beginning of the novel, Dumas described Dantès as such: “He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty” (“Monte Cristo” 2).  Meanwhile, Dumas wrote this about d’Artagnan: “Imagine to yourself a Don Quixote of eighteen” (“Musketeers” 1).  The main characters were similar in age; they were young men in the beginning of their journey.  However, the span of their adventures set them apart.  The story of “The Three Musketeers” ended only a few short years after we were introduced to d’Artagnan.  This means that he was still relatively young when his adventures were finished.  Athos said to d’Artagnan when the latter received the commission, “You are young…and your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances” (“Musketeers” 624).  On the contrary, the story of Dantès surpassed many years.  The novel began on February 24, 1815 (“Monte Cristo” 1).  Dantès spent many years incarcerated in Château d’If, and when had emerged as the Count of Monte Cristo, it was already 1838 (“Monte Cristo” 266).  In the entire duration of the novel, Dantès had grown from a naïve young guy to a grown man bent on seeking revenge.

                Another similarity between the two main characters is their humble origins.  Dantès was a young sailor who sought to give his old father a better life.  He told his father, “With the first money I touch, I mean you to have a small house, with a garden in which to plant clematis, nasturtiums, and honeysuckle” (“Monte Cristo” 10).  They were surely not wealthy, for they had “a little debt to our neighbor, Caderousse” in the amount of “a hundred and forty francs” (“Monte Cristo” 11).  Likewise, the family of d’Artagnan was also not rich.  When he was about to leave, his father only had three things to send him on his journey: “fifteen écus, my horse, and the advice” (“Musketeers” 3).

                What can be considered as the most significant similarity between Dantès and d’Artagnan was the relevance of a letter in changing their lives.  In both novels, the main characters carried letters that proved instrumental in moving the story along.  In “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Captain Leclère was the former captain of the Pharaon; before he passed away, he instructed Dantès to give a letter penned by Napoleon to his remaining supporters in Paris.  Fernand and Danglars used the letter to convict Dantès of treason, since they were envious of his good fortune.  According to the letter the men created, Dantès had received “a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee in Paris” (“Monte Cristo” 29).  It was the letter given to Dantès which led to his imprisonment and retribution.

                Just like Dantès, d’Artagnan also carried a letter that was instrumental in pushing the course of the story.  Before his departure, his father told him about Monsieur de Tréville, the head of the Musketeers.  The elder d’Artagnan handed his son a letter of introduction to be given by M. de Tréville.  The father said, “Go to him with this letter, and make him your model in order that you may do as he has done” (“Musketeers” 4).

                Unfortunately, d’Artagnan was unable to give his father’s letter to M. de Tréville.  His aggressive nature had caused him to lose the letter to an enemy.  Earlier in the novel, Dumas wrote that d’Artagnan was “quite aware of the ridiculous appearance that such a steed gave him” (“Musketeers” 2).  Apparently, a nobleman was also aware of the horse’s unusual appearance.  When d’Artagnan arrived at the inn, a nobleman made fun of former’s horse to his companions.  This had angered d’Artagnan, forcing the men to fight one another.  He lost his father’s letter in the process.  The loss of the letter was important in the story, as it resulted in d’Artagnan’s encounter with the Musketeers.

                Another similarity between the two main characters was the loss of their loved ones.  In the novels, the men had lost the women they loved at one point in the story.  Before Dantès was betrayed by his friends, he was betrothed to Mercédès.  He was taken to prison before they got married.  Fernan had always been in love with Mercédès, which was the reasons why he conspired against Dantès.  Fernan once said, “Before Mercédès should die, I would die myself!” (“Monte Cristo” 26).  In Dantès’ absence, Fernan took the opportunity to make Mercédès his bride; he did succeed in this endeavor.  According to Caderousse, “the marriage took place in the church of Accoules” (“Monte Cristo” 230).  Edmond also found out that they had a son named Albert.

                In “The Three Musketeers,” d’Artagnan had saved Constance Bonacieux from her captors.  The lady was abducted because of her association to Queen Anne.  She was married to the Monsieur Bonacieux, but she was much younger than him.  In the novel, Dumas described her as “a charming woman of twenty-five or twenty-six years, with dark hair, blue eyes, a nose slightly turned up, admirable teeth, and a complexion marbled with rose and opal” (“Musketeers” 100).  Later on, it was written that when d’Artagnan left, he “bowed to Mme. Bonacieux, darting at her the most loving glance that he could possibly concentrate upon her charming little person” (“Musketeers” 103).  However, Milady killed Constance by poisoning the latter’s wine.  Mme. Bonacieux became “nothing but a corpse” in the arms of d’Artagnan (“Musketeers” 597).  Indeed, both Dantès and d’Artagnan lost their beloved in the arms of their enemies.

                The last similarity between the two main characters was the achievement of their goals.  After he was sent to prison, Dantès devoted all his efforts towards revenge and reward.  With the help of Abbe Faria, Dantès was able to determine the causes of his downfall.  The abbe had later regretted his decision to help the young man.  He said that his efforts “has instilled a new passion in your heart—that of vengeance” (“Monte Cristo” 141).  After Dantès came out of prison, he was dedicated to punishing all that have done him wrong.  On the contrary, he also sought to reward the people who have helped him.  For instance, Dantès anonymously gave M. Morrel 287,000 francs to pay for his debts, as well as a diamond for his daughter’s dowry (“Monte Cristo” 265).  As Dantès departed, he said “let my gratitude remain in obscurity like your good deeds” (“Monte Cristo” 265).  Meanwhile, d’Artagnan had always wanted to be as Musketeer and he had accomplished this goal by the end of the novel.  Before he personally met M. de Tréville, d’Artagnan was called as the latter’s protégé.  The novel ends with the Cardinal Richelieu handing d’Artagnan the “lieutenant’s commission in the Musketeers” and Athos writing d’Artagnan’s name in it (“Musketeers” 624).

                After the aforementioned similarities, it would be easy to consider the striking resemblance between the two main characters of Dumas’ novels.  Nonetheless, it is also important to note the most remarkable difference between Dantès and d’Artagnan.  Unlike d’Artagnan who remained a static character throughout the story, Dantès had undergone a drastic change in his personality.

                In “The Three Musketeers,” d’Artagnan was depicted as a rather consistent character.  In the beginning, the reader can see how headstrong, moody and stubborn he is.  He was easily provoked; Dumas wrote that “even a half-smile was sufficient to awaken the young man’s irascibility” (Musketeers 5).  As the novel progressed, a reader can see that d’Artagnan was also chivalrous and amoral at times.  However, the character did not undergo extreme changes within the story.  In Dantès’ case, his personality was altered because of his misfortunes.  The hardships he suffered were responsible for his radical change of heart.  When the story began, he was a loving son and fiancé who had a positive outlook in life.  After his incarceration, he became filled with hatred.  While it is true that Dantès still did good deeds for those who have been good to him, he had become indifferent to the rest of humanity.  It was not until Haidee came along that Dantès was restored to his loving self.  Dantès told Haidee: “one word from you has enlightened me more than twenty years of slow experience; I have but you in the word, Haidee; through you I again take hold on life” (“Monte Cristo” 550).  Hence, the character of the loving Dantès eventually became cruel and revolting, only to love again in the end.

                Edmond Dantès from “The Count of Monte Cristo” and d’Artagnan from “The Three Musketeers” are very different characters.  Dantès had transformed in the midst of the story, while d’Artagnan remained static.  Also, unlike the latter, the former had grown old in the duration of the story.  However, both characters shared many similarities.  They were both young men in the start of the novels, they had humble beginnings, they accomplished their goals, they lost the women they loved to the enemies and their lives changed because of a letter.  Indeed, Alexandre Dumas succeeded in making the heroes of his novel distinct yet very similar.

    Works Cited

    Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo. United Kingdom: READ Books, 2008.

    Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. Trans. Eleanor Hochman. New York: Signet Classic, 2006.

    Maurois, Andre. Alexander Dumas – A Great Life in Brief.  United Kingdom: READ Books, 2008.


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