In The Three Musketeers, the past never stays buried. Several prominent characters carry the secrets of the past around with them. By the end of the novel, these secrets are exposed and the characters who keep them are worse off for having done so in the first place. This especially applies to Lady de Winter and Athos, whose secrets are inextricably linked to one another. Eventually, d’Artagnan and the other musketeers learn that Lady de Winter and Athos were once married. Athos married Lady de Winter because he thought she was a respectable girl, albeit from a modest background. However, one day he learns that she has a fleur-de-lis branded on her back. The fleur-de-lis marks Lady de Winter as a criminal and so, feeling betrayed, Athos tries (and fails) to kill her.
Of course, these events themselves are bad enough, but matters become even worse because both parties try to keep their true identities and pasts a secret. For Athos, this results in a lifetime of heavy drinking and regular bouts of depression. Meanwhile, Lady de Winter hides her true identity from everyone and this works against her later in the novel, especially when Lord de Winter discovers her true identity anyway and imprisons her. Although the novel doesn’t disavow keeping secrets altogether—after all, certain political secrets are necessarily kept throughout the novel—it does demonstrate the chaos that can ensue if one keeps one’s true identity a secret. Among other things, The Three Musketeers is a novel about putting one’s trust in others; those who resist doing so until the bitter end—such as Lady de Winter—do not receive a happy ending.
The Secrets of the Past ThemeTracker
The Secrets of the Past Quotes in The Three Musketeers
Unfortunately, Porthos knew no more about Athos’s life than what hearsay told him. It was said that he had suffered great afflictions in his love affairs and that a monstrous betrayal had poisoned his life forever. What that betrayal had been, no one knew.
Athos was thus an extraordinary man. And yet, despite his distinction and refinement, he sometimes sank into sluggish apathy, as old men sink into physical and mental debility. In his periods of lethargy, and they were many, the radiant side of his nature disappeared, although engulfed in darkness. Then, when the demigod had vanished, what remained was scarcely a man.
Perhaps she was struck by a superstitious idea and took her fall as a sign that fate was against her; in any case, she remained as she had fallen, on her knees, with her head bowed and her hands still tied.
The silent witnesses on the other side of the river saw the executioner raise his arms. Moonlight glittered on the broad blade of this sword. There was a scream as he swiftly brought down his arms, then a truncated mass collapsed beneath the blow.