Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Gascony. Region of southwestern France between the Atlantic coast, the Garonne River, and the western Pyrenees. In making the hero, d’Artagnan, a Gascon, Alexandre Dumas early establishes the region’s association with boastfulness and flamboyance. He repeatedly demonstrates that d’Artagnan deserves his Gascon reputation for passion, daring, and astuteness. Characterized as an idealistic outsider first encountering the corruption of the capital and the court, d’Artagnan eventually tells the Englishman Lord Buckingham, “The Gascons are the Scotchmen of France.” Other admirable Gascons in the novel include Captain de Treville and Porthos of the king’s musketeers.


*Paris. France’s capital is the scene of much of the action of the novel. Dumas’s representation of the seventeenth century capital combines striking historical accuracy with some nineteenth century anachronisms. Most of the court scenes take place in the Louvre, the royal residence before Versailles (begun in 1661). A Romantic-Gothic atmosphere dominates the fictionalized city, which emerges most memorably as a place of ambush, midnight assignation, kidnapping, eavesdropping, and dueling.

Beyond the Louvre, Dumas’s detailed naming of streets makes it possible to retrace many of d’Artagnan’s movements through Paris on modern maps. Sometimes, however, Dumas calls a seventeenth century street by its nineteenth century name or mentions a building erected years after the story takes place. He also errs by identifying d’Artagnan’s lodging on the rue des Fossoyeurs with a number; Parisian houses started using numbers later, in 1775.


*Meung (muhn). City located on the Loire River, between Orléans and Tours, in which the novel opens. For d’Artagnan’s first appearance en route to the glittering capital where he dreams of making his fortune, Dumas chooses a site resonant with chivalry, his...

(The entire section is 811 words.)