The Three Musketeers
1. D'Artagnan is confronted with the Cardinal's intriguers in the very first leg of his journey from home to Paris to join the musketeers when he quarrels with Count Rochefort and sees the mysterious evil Milady. The Count steals his father's letter to Treville requesting a place for DArtagnan in the king's guard. Later it is the Cardinal himself (the Count's boss) who appoints DArtagnan a musketeer and finally a lieutenant. When the Cardinal does offer him a lieutenantship it is in exchange for the Cardinals letter of authority which Athos stole from Milady and the Count is there to witness his appointment (the Count brings DArtagnan to the Cardinal).
2. The Count must be a positive character in a negative position. For it is he that first alerts DArtagnan about Milady during their initial encounter. Later in trying to chase the Count in Paris, DArtagnan runs into and enrages the three Musketeers which is the beginning of their friendship. The Count also drops the paper on which Milady has written the name of their final meeting place where finally the Musketeers catch and execute her. The Count also kidnaps Madame Bonacieux who later twice escapes him; the first time to meet DArtagnan and fall in love which wouldn't have happened otherwise, and as a result DArtagnan plays a pivotal role in recovering the Queen's diamonds given to Buckingham. Thus after three duels, there is sanction for DArtagnan's final friendship with the Count.
3. Milady obtained Athos' family ring by falsely representing herself and becoming his wife. Athos is haunted for years by the memory of this woman he thought he had killed. Later DArtagnan regains Athos' ring by another fraud when he impersonates Comte de Wardes in Milady's bedroom. From that moment on the haunting spell begins to lift from Athos and he regains his old strength and character. The ring is sold.
4. From the time DArtagnan first sees her, Milady's life is on the decline though her evil power continues to express. She succeeds in stealing the diamonds from Buckingham, but the plot fails when DArtagnan brings replacements to the Queen and thereby gains her esteem. When she attempts to seduce De Wardes and kill her brother-in-law, she is instead seduced by DArtagnan and exposed to him and Athos. When she asks the Cardinal for an execution order to kill DArtagnan, Athos steals it from her, and later uses it for her execution. Going to kill Buckingham she is exposed and imprisoned for the first time.
Though she escapes and succeeds in her mission, she brings down on her the pursuit that finally costs her her life. The poisoning of Constance Bonacieux is her last evil act which alerts the Musketeers to her identity and brings on her death. Even at the end her evil is so powerful, DArtagnan hesitates before the execution.
5. Because DArtagnan has fallen prey to Milady's charms in attempting to court and seduce her, and he has interfered with her passion for Des Wardes, Milady is able to rob DArtagnan of his love for Constance and leave it unsatisfied.
6. The Cardinal's plot to expose Queen Anne was thwarted by DArtagnan, while his plot to kill Buckingham was a success. The Frenchman's loyalty to his Queen does not extend to her lover who is a national enemy preparing to attack.
7. The 3 Musketeers rose to fame only after DArtagnan joined them. Just prior to that they were defeated in a brawl with the Cardinal's men and Athos was wounded. After DArtagnan joined them, they rose from success to greater success. DArtagnan is courageous, noble, intelligent, innocent, with enormous youthful energy. Within a few days of his arrival in Paris, DArtagnan has an audience with the King. Within a few weeks he is honored by the Queen.
8. Buckingham used the battle for La Rochelle as an opportunity to fight his personal battle with the Cardinal who had once been rejected by Anne and was jealous of Buckingham. He employed the religious opposition of the Huguenots to fight the Cardinal. Their personal quarrel was ended by Buckingham's assassination and with it the war too ended. As Buckingham employed religious fanaticism against the Cardinal, Milady employed Fenton's Puritan fanaticism against Buckingham. Buckingham was killed when he tried to sign the exile order against Milady. The knife Fenton used to kill Buckingham was the same one Milady used a few hours earlier to stab herself in a feigned suicide attempt. The knife draws her blood which gave it the power to draw Buckingham's and also foreshadowed her own death, for killing Buckingham was something so great it could be paid for only with Milady's life. She was killed by the executioner's knife a few days later.
9. Milady died in the countryside where she grew up; it was her return to past dangers, not safety. By killing Constance, Milady has betrayed the one thing which protected her all her life, i.e. her beauty. Till then no man could bring himself to kill her. Athos failed years earlier and then did not even attempt it when he met her at the tavern. De Winter only attempted to exile her and could not accomplish even that, so great were her charms. But when she destroyed beautiful Constance, her own mask was finally destroyed and the protecting aura withdrawn. Even then DArtagnan was moved by her pleas and only Athos' intervention assured her execution. By going to the convent, Milady unthinkingly returns to the village where the executioner lives still seeking vengeance for his brother's corruption and death which were due to Milady.
10. Constance was living in a dangerous world of intrigues. She was the servant of Queen Anne's romance with Buckingham and as such evoked the revenge of the Cardinal who could not directly touch the Queen. She was married to an unprincipled small man had only led to her twice imprisonment and twice escape. The force of the Queen protecting her was powerful enough for that. Her death rather seems a direct result of her love for DArtagnan and willingness to die for him. Milady was bent on revenge against DArtagnan and was powerful enough to make DArtagnan tremble at the thought of her. In exposing herself to Milady, she actually exposed Milady to the Musketeers who would not have found her at the convent or pursued her to her grave, had it not been for Constance's unconscious sacrifice. In dying, Constance ensured Milady's death and DArtagnan's life.
11. Whatever the liberality of the day, the story takes place in an age when the belief in good is quite pervasive and religious issues dominate society. In fact, if one law seems to express throughout the story, it is the resistance to illicit love at higher levels of society. Buckingham's advances to Anne lead to his death. Constance's two attempts to unite with DArtagnan are frustrated, the first by her arrest, the second by her death. Even Milady's passion for de Wardes is frustrated by DArtagnan. Aramis returns to religion, not to his aristocratic lover. Only Porthos who seeks money, not love, and stoops to the level of the proprietress succeeds, and that too by marriage. There is no instance of illicit love prospering in the story.