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Thread: You're tearing me apart, Aramis!

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    You're tearing me apart, Aramis!

    So, it's been over 20 years since I've read these books... and I thought it was time to revisit them. First of all, you're killing me, Dumas... it turns out this books is even MORE heart-rending than I remembered it.

    I've read in bios of Dumas that he envisioned himself as somewhat of a cross between Porthos and Aramis (which is a bit scary, but also kind of awesome). So WHY did he decide to completely vilify Aramis's character in the final installments of the musketeer books? Is it just me, or was he being unfairly harsh, even unjust to this character? Granted, it was mostly through d'Artagnan's perspective that Dumas conveys his condemnations of Aramis's character (implying that he has no soul and blaming the death of Porthos solely on him), and d'Artagnan and Aramis never really struck me as two people who genuinely enjoyed each other outside of the chemistry of their foursome. But really??!! "Adieu forever!" REALLY???!!! Aramis did not deserve that. He was flawed and complex, that made him interesting, but he was far from having no soul.

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    dm

    But who says he has no soul at all, though? Athos is certainly going to heaven, Porthos too, bless him, d'Artagnan probably after paying for his sins in the purgatory, but Aramis... Wanting to replace the king with someone else, trying to kling on to the power which he wants to take away from the king, essentially, also contributing to Fouquet actually moving funds from the state to his own pocket... That smells like corruption and fraud. That is pretty bad. And then, instead of begging for foregiveness, sucking your naïve friend into it, despite that you know that Porthos doesn't understand anything of anything... He would not have succeeded doing the same with d'Artagnan, that is for sure... Neither with Athos who was clearly not part of this type of stuff. Only Porthos was stupid enough not to ask questions or not to get the fact that they told him something other than the truth, and was also desperate enough for the company of his friends because he was so lonely in Pierrefonds.

    Aramis is pretty devious from the start, only it does not show itself in the first books, as he is always on the right side and as he is not involved in any major stuff. He is involved in the illegal courtship of the queen and Buckingham, being the place where the love letters are exchanged by Mme de Chevreuse whom he is courting. He admits to wanting to take revenge on someone and therefore staying out of the priest's profession. We kind of rejoice when he gets Athos, Porthos and d'Artagnan out of trouble and subdues Mazarin, but in the end, he does things for himself, not for the common good, and that is the difference between d'Artagnan and him. D'Artagnan is also cunning, but he operates for the common good as 'the voice of honesty'. Aramis is not only cunning but operates for himself as well. The only reason why he wanted to replce the king with his twin brother is the fact that the second is naïve enough not to ask questions with Fouquet and himself. So they can go on sucking the state dry. A king who takes matters into his own hands is no good. Admittedly, d'Artagnan is also not happy with such a king, but only because Louis is a little too zealous in his desire. One has to leave some stuff up to own judgment, but Louis wants to do all. Mazarin was the opposite, though, doing nothing and rocking all to sleep to great frustration of d'Artagnan.

    Having the death of Porthos on his conscience, was only the end of Aramis's course and the inevitable end to it. I think that was implied with the tears he shed when he fled from Belle Ïle.

    So, yes, he did have a soul, like all human beings that God created (just thinking like Dumas thought), but his soul will be going to a nasty burning place.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    Hi again, Kiki!

    It is not for me to judge whether there is a Hell and whether Aramis is going to it. What I'm more concerned with is that d'Artagnan seems so certain that he is and I think that makes d'Artagnan a dickish friend.

    We know why Aramis did everything he's ever done - ambition. He wanted to be Pope. (Personally, I have no desire to be Pope, but, again, who am I to judge?) He did not actually hurt anyone along the way except his enemies, as Dumas points out at some point. The death of Porthos was very unfortunate (and heart-breaking) but Aramis did try to save him until the very end. It is simplistic to blame it all on Aramis. What's with the survivor's guilt? That's not fair. Aramis may have done some questionable things, but he never betrayed his friends, including Fouquet. One could even argue that the entire Philippe conspiracy would have benefited every single one of Aramis's friends, had it worked (and yes, he might have been made Pope). Therefore, I find that d'Artagnan's dismissal of him (to Hell or otherwise) only reflects poorly on d'Artagnan himself. I just don't think he ever liked him to begin with. I blame it on unresolved jealousy issues

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    Kiki, you speak French, right? One way to interpret this is that since of the four of them there remained one body and God had taken back their souls is that Aramis was a body without a soul. The good news is that apparently God took it. But it is, you know, open to interpretation!

    "Des quatre vaillants hommes dont nous avons raconté l’histoire, il ne restait plus qu’un seul corps : Dieu avait repris les âmes."

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    Quote Originally Posted by AthosESK View Post
    Hi again, Kiki!

    It is not for me to judge whether there is a Hell and whether Aramis is going to it. What I'm more concerned with is that d'Artagnan seems so certain that he is and I think that makes d'Artagnan a dickish friend.

    We know why Aramis did everything he's ever done - ambition. He wanted to be Pope. (Personally, I have no desire to be Pope, but, again, who am I to judge?) He did not actually hurt anyone along the way except his enemies, as Dumas points out at some point. The death of Porthos was very unfortunate (and heart-breaking) but Aramis did try to save him until the very end. It is simplistic to blame it all on Aramis. What's with the survivor's guilt? That's not fair. Aramis may have done some questionable things, but he never betrayed his friends, including Fouquet. One could even argue that the entire Philippe conspiracy would have benefited every single one of Aramis's friends, had it worked (and yes, he might have been made Pope). Therefore, I find that d'Artagnan's dismissal of him (to Hell or otherwise) only reflects poorly on d'Artagnan himself. I just don't think he ever liked him to begin with. I blame it on unresolved jealousy issues
    D'Artagnan mainly could have benefitted from the swap yes, but he would have gone out of his way to get the old king back. As he said, his duty was to his king, not to an imposter, even if that imposter is the twin, whose theory was already doubted at the time Dumas wrote his book. That theory was doubted and the public that read the last part of Le Vicomte de Bragelonne knew that, it was even considered as fiction I think, at some point. So is there not a chance that Dumas implied that Aramis took a random person who had been imprisoned, admittedly, for looking like the king and decided to take matters into his own hands? The situation was getting worse and worse and Fouquet was going to go bankrupt with the next money Louis was going to demand. Yet, saying that there was none, was also not possible, as there should have been, as Colbert knew. Something needed to happen: get rid of the king who was asking too many questions and replace him, and let there now be the ideal candidate: someone who has been in prison and whom you are the only person for who loves him. Belle Île, in my opinion, was a lost case anyway. How are a few hundreds on an island (at most) going to be able to withstand potentially the total army of a country like France? Only escape was of the order, but Aramis did not warn Porthos. And that is what is so sad. Porthos did not know what he was letting himself in for, he was even so naïve as to think that there was nothing the matter just before the battle and Aramis kept lying to him. One does not betray a friend like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by AthosESK View Post
    Kiki, you speak French, right? One way to interpret this is that since of the four of them there remained one body and God had taken back their souls is that Aramis was a body without a soul. The good news is that apparently God took it. But it is, you know, open to interpretation!

    "Des quatre vaillants hommes dont nous avons raconté l’histoire, il ne restait plus qu’un seul corps : Dieu avait repris les âmes."
    Don't forget that, in Catholic doctrine, God always takes the soul, or the soul goes up to God who decides either to send it to the purgatory where it will repent for its sins and then be permitted into heaven, or to cast it into hell forever.
    It is of course possible like you say that Aramis did not have a soul, but why is he a human being then?

    I always thought, from the beginning, that the three: Athos, Porthos and Aramis represented each a quality that was important to one. Athos represented infinte goodness and compassion (the Christian ideal in a way without wanting to sound too religious), Porthos infinite friendship and Aramis intelligence and ambition. D'Artagnan united it all in himself and thus was represented as the epitomy of honour and principle. However, as the story goes on, the first three come to a sad end as they have too much of their own quality and not enough of the rest, in contrast to d'Artagnan. Athos is too compassionate, and too dependant on love so as to be able to live without sorrow. He cannot get over Milady's (as it turns out) cheating and wallows in self-pity. He goes out of his way to please Raoul as a means of forgetting his own problems with himself (because in the end, self-reproach is the only thing that keeps him awake at night). Porthos loves other people too much so as not to be lonely. He cannot live by himself and seeks to be serviceable even to the extent where he brings himself into danger. His money cannot make him happy. He buys and buys and buys, but does not gain any happiness from it. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, he will present himself as help, only to be able to do something to occupy his time. Already in Twenty Years After, his lot was a close call, as he was part of Mazarin's excursion to Britain to make sure of the execution of Charles I, but in the end, somehow, ran over to the other side and was essentially a traitor who could be hanged for treason. If Aramis hadn't come to save them that time, in all is cunningness, and if they had not threatened Mazarin (can't recall how anymore, though), Porthos would have been at least imprisoned forever. Aramis will be sad as well because he will have to bear the guilt of dragging Porthos in an unwinnable conflict. It was a fifty-fifty chance. Either the king is replaced and then it is eternal honour, or the king can escape, in all likelyhood with a person as d'Artagnan behind him, and he will be hanged, or have to escape. Athos, fortunately, was too old (he is much older than all of them) and so declined to take part in the project, but I don't think he would have fallen for it. Sadly, there was no-one to tell Porthos. D'Artagnan comes to a misfortunate, but happy end: he has accomplished what he wanted; unlike Aramis, by the way, who has brought it to a very powerful position on the dark side and embassador of Spain to the French crown. His position is more powerful than the pope, though, but he will have to live with the guilt of having indirectly killed his friend forever. D'Artagnan has got into personal favour with the king, which was very rare, even to the point of being able to playfully reproach him for getting out of bed late. He has become a legend which people talk about. That is something better in my mind than Aramis who has had to flee the country.

    I don't know if d'Artagnan had a reason to be jealous... Fine, he has stayed in the army, but he has got a very enviable position to the king, which Aramis certainly does not have. At least d'Artagnan can tell himself that he reached his position, whether of favour or of grade in the army, in an appropriate way. He did not obtain a secret like Aramis to get it, he did not do any cheating or lying, he just plainly did his best and through sheer brilliance finally obtained the much-desired Marshall bâton.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    I think the fact that we're having this discussion more than a 150 years after the book was written is testament to the fact that Dumas created amazingly interesting characters. But are they black and white? I do not think so, nor do I think that they're as one-dimentional as you describe them. They are all human and they are all flawed. And, also, I think that one's perception of the characters and their actions changes as one gets older. At least it did for me, and I also like THAT.

    (By the way, on an aside, Athos is only 9 years older than d'Artagnan. That seems like a lot when you're young, but is negligible when you grow... older.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AthosESK View Post
    I think the fact that we're having this discussion more than a 150 years after the book was written is testament to the fact that Dumas created amazingly interesting characters. But are they black and white? I do not think so, nor do I think that they're as one-dimentional as you describe them. They are all human and they are all flawed. And, also, I think that one's perception of the characters and their actions changes as one gets older. At least it did for me, and I also like THAT.

    (By the way, on an aside, Athos is only 9 years older than d'Artagnan. That seems like a lot when you're young, but is negligible when you grow... older.)
    Yes, funny, isn't it? I think Aramis can be called 'flawed' in the first three books, but I do think that his action on Belle-Île made him too far flawed to be still positive, to be honest. Also d'Artagnan's reaction when Aramis embraces him at the end shows that he wasn't all that keen on him anymore. He respected him in his quality of Embassador of Spain, but not in his quality of friend.

    I for one, cannot have people who cheat and lie at (to) their friends. That is one thing one does not. Not in any circumstances, and the least for things like ambition. Because what would Aramis have got if he had been able to replace the king successfully? He would have been practically king of France, like Richelieu and Mazarin after the latter. The king would have been there for show merely, as he did not know how things worked and only knew what to do by the grace of his advisor and minister of finance. And who are they? Aramis and Fouquet. D'Artagnan would have been side-lined as he would not have come in on the deal and Colbert as well. The situation wuld have returned to the start of The Vicomte.
    Essentially, if I remember well, the reason for the plot was Fouquet's fraudulent use of state money. He had got into the habit and practically lived on it (with great castles and mistresses to boot). How was he supposed to keep up the lifestyle without any money?
    I can't remember where Aramis came into the picture, regarding the money. I'll have to see. But he also had something worth covering up.

    Of course Athos was only 9 years older. You can only really feel it in the first and last books (last is the whole Vicomte). In the middle one it is not really noticeable. Because, like you say, the first one deals with people from 19 to 22 and there is this guy who is almost 30 by then. In the end, though, it was certainly noticeable, as they are all round about 50 where Athos is more or less 60. Old in those days. Certainly not the guy who is going to still fight duels. If anything, he was in the most vigourous period of his life in Twenty Years After as he was only 40 then.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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