The Classical Mind Newsletter for April 14, 2023
Listener Choice Poll, The Three Musketeers, A Flannery Follow Up, Tattoos, On Getting Old
Our series on intellectual virtues will continue in the next newsletter. Given Holy Week and Easter, I’ve just not had time to record.
The next book is Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill.
The Poll for our July Listener’s Choice Episode
The Three Musketeers, Villlains, and Justice
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” William Congreve reminded us in his play The Mourning Bride. I would like to nominate Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas as one of the finest literary illustrations of this adage. While Cardinal Richelieu is often depicted as the antagonist of the story, Milady is the true villain. With a complex backstory, readers lack full knowledge as to how she became what she was. We know she lived a monastic life in a convent while a young woman before seducing a young priest to run away with her and steal the accoutrements from his parish. She spent some time married to Athos, who was the Count de le Fère at the time, until he found out she was a criminal based on a branded fluer-de-lis on her shoulder. By the events of the novel, she is a (perhaps black) widow of Lord de Winter’s brother. Clearly hungry for power and domination, she is cold, calculating, and capable of atrocities with no qualms, culminating in the murder of young D’Artagnan’s lover, Constance Bonacieux. Dumas regularly employs the image of a predatory animal to describe her: “Miley resembled a serpent, which, gliding close the ground, watches its prey, and bites at the right moment,” (ch. 22); “She had a tigress-like activity, a feline agility in seizing her prey” (ch. 28); “He still saw in her mind’s eyes, fanged, panther-like, and beautiful as ever, but with a hint of something new and sinister in the set of her jaw and the gleam of her eyes—something that suggested a tigress on the prowl” (ch. 55).
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