The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers


Alexandre Dumas

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Fleur-de-lis Symbol Analysis

Fleur-de-lis Symbol Icon

The fleur-de-lis is a brand given to criminals that represents their removal from polite society. In The Three Musketeers, Milady has a brand on her shoulder as a result of her criminal actions. Because of its implication, Milady does everything she can to hide it. She even manages to marry Athos, a nobleman and one of the story’s heroes, without revealing the fleur-de-lis. Despite her efforts, Athos eventually finds out about the brand and attempts to kill her for it. The symbol is so volatile in French society that Athos knows it would ruin him if someone discovered it on his wife’s body. Because others know Milady’s secret, the fleur-de-lis is a constant burden that other people constantly use as leverage against her, which is, for instance, why Milady attempts to kill d’Artagnan when he learns about it.

It is only at the end of the novel that Milady is able to use the fleur-de-lis to her advantage. While seducing John Felton, Milady makes up a story about how she received the brand. In the story, Milady endures barbaric treatment, and she receives the brand as an act of cruelty rather than because of her personal wrongdoing. Here, Milady alters the brand’s meaning to suggest that it represents an abuse of power. Still, she ultimately finds that it’s impossible to escape the fleur-de-lis’s true meaning, and Milady is executed for her own abuses of power, many of which were connected to her attempts to obscure the fleur-de-lis from others.

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Fleur-de-lis Symbol Timeline in The Three Musketeers

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fleur-de-lis appears in The Three Musketeers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 27
Honor  Theme Icon
Class and Power Theme Icon
The Secrets of the Past Theme Icon
Seduction and Romance Theme Icon
...fell from her horse and Athos’s “friend” saw that the woman was branded with a fleur-de-lis, the mark of a criminal. Apparently, she received the mark for stealing sacred items from... (full context)
Chapter 37
The Secrets of the Past Theme Icon
Seduction and Romance Theme Icon
...d’Artagnan. When d’Artagnan tries to stop her, he accidently rips her dress and spots a fleur-de-lis on her shoulder. (full context)