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A young Gascon, d'Artagnan travels to Paris to become a Musketeer, bearing with him a letter of introduction that is stolen by Rochefort and Milady. He befriends Athos, Pothos and Aramis and is mainly a guard to Monsieur des Essart throughout the book, however he becomes involved with some of the Court intrigues that lead to a great deal of travel and adventure while off duty. An outstanding swordsman, d'Artagnan finally becomes a captain of the Musketeers at the end of the book. He falls in love with Constance Bonacieux but loses her under tragic circumstances.
Athos is a Musketeer who is much older than the others and is in his forties. Obviously of high noble birth and well educated, he is a mentor and father figure to d'Artagnan. His wife, whom he believes he has murdered, is Milady de Winter: an amoral woman, originally a thief, who is an agent of the Cardinal. Athos seems to be immune to romantic feeling and is fully integrated into the Musketeers' duties. He is a mentor for d'Artagnan and helps to train him, but his attitude is extremely cynical. Prone to depression and alcoholic binges, Athos joined the Musketeers to escape the tragedy of his earlier life.
Pothos is another of The Three Musketeers, along with Athos and Aramis. He is unusually tall and strong, and is an outstanding fighter, yet he is not aggressive and is in fact a very light-hearted and friendly musketeer. He is not very intelligent but is extremely loyal to his friends and also desirous of wealth and luxury. His character is not as well-rounded as that of Athos or Aramis, and he serves as comic relief throughout the book.
Aramis is the youngest of the Three Musketeers and is displayed as a skillful fighter who is very religious. He prays often and frequently talks about leaving the Musketeers to join the priesthood, and is extremely intelligent. However his frequent affairs with married women, his propensity to dabble in Court intrigue, and his regular disagreement with Church doctrine are not conducive to a life in the priesthood. He is a moral relativist. Despite his emotional attachment to the Athos, Porthos, and d'Artagnan he keeps secrets from them and does not always reveal all that he knows.
Milady de Winter
Milday de Winter was once married to Athos, who tried to kill her after he discovered horrible secrets from her past. Believing Athos had died (when in reality he changed his name and joined the Musketeers), Milady married an Englishman by the name of de Winter. She is intelligent, cruel, and fond of using poison to get rid of people she dislikes or who do not advance her interests. She is presently helping the Cardinal alienate the King and the Queen, to prevent the Queen from messing up what is actually quite a competent administration. On a whim, d'Artagnan pretends to be somebody else in order to sleep with Milady. In the process, he discovers her secret and realizes who she is. The Musketeers, with d'Artagnan, bring in an executioner and execute Milady at the end of the book in a way that is not quite legal, but that is permissible because of the letter of pardon d'Artagnan has from the Cardinal.
Cardinal Richelieu is a capable administrator who is actually the power behind the French throne. He is dealing with the Protestant Huguenot rebellion, which is an uprising centered around the city of La Rochelle. Many of the French people hate and resent the monarchy and the Church due to ongoing corruption and social inequality, and the Musketeers perceive the Cardinal as a threat to the King. He is the primary antagonist in the story, however he is not attempting to take the throne for himself nor is he actively undermining the King's authority. He is attempting to limit the influence of foreign powers in France, specifically Spain and Austria, by ensuring that the Queen (Anne of Austria) does not acquire enough influence to appoint government officials that advance foreign interests at the expense of France's. He is particularly interested in making sure that the English government does not come to the aid of the Protestant rebels in La Rochelle. When he discovers that the Queen is engaging in a flirtation with the English Duke of Buckingham, the Cardinal decides to exploit the situation so as to discredit any subsequent attempts by the English to help the rebels.
King Louis XIII
The King of France is depicted as relatively young and naive. He is the rightful King but lacks administrative skills. He is very fond of the Musketeers in general as they are his protectors, but is not personally acquainted with d'Artagnan or his friends.
The King relies on various ministers, chiefly Cardinal Richelieu, to govern his increasingly complex realm. However he suspects that the Queen, who is also a political figure, is having affairs the way many of her ladies-in-waiting do. He is aware that many of the men and women in his Court are spies for foreign powers, and does not know who to trust.
The wife of an innkeeper in Paris, Constance is d'Artagnan's primary love interest and is his mistress in terms of emotional attachment; the novel does not explicitly say whether they have consummated their relationship. Constance works as a maid and is responsible for the Queen's laundry, and sometimes sees and overhears too much. Her kidnapping is one of the things that cause d'Artagnan and the other Musketeers to spring into action.
Constance is young, pretty, intelligent enough to hold up her end of a conversation, and unfortunately her involvement with d'Artagnan is enough to make her worthwhile to Milady de Winter as a hostage. Milady murders Constance, gratuitously, near the end of the novel as the Musketeers are closing in.
A secondary antagonist who works for the Cardinal and is associated with Milady, the Duke of Rochefort is an aristocrat whom d'Artagnan hates from the beginning because he steals his letter of introduction and prevents him from being enrolled as a Musketeer. Rochefort is tall, strong, and an outstanding swordsman.
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In the novel's exposition, we meet D’Artagnan, experience his fight and subsequent friendship with the Musketeers, and learn that Queen Anne is most anxious to retrieve the diamonds she's given to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham, before her...