Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dispute Of Four Old Friends: My Reflection on Twenty Years After

I have not even got into the middle of this book yet, but I have been quite moved by the friendship of these four noble men: Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan, twenty years after their golden era of King’s Musketeers. The slogan of “all for one and one for all” seems to stick forever in my heart.

Twenty Years After depicted these four men in their later lives after Cardinal Richelieu dead. D’Artagnan was still the lieutenant of King’s Musketeers, while Athos and Porthos have been enjoying their retirement and prosperity, and Aramis has been giving himself to serve the Chucrh as an abbé. Now the new cardinal wanted to use their service again, and instructed D’Artagnan to gather his three friends. In this task, D’Artagnan only succeeded to persuade Porthos, while Athos and Aramis both rejected to join. Not only that, it appeared latter that Athos and Aramis was working on something against the Cardinal, but they did not tell D’Artagnan about this.

These four inseparable friends were now worked for two opposite sides. To avoid from killing each other, they agreed to have a reconciliation meeting. This meeting turned out to be the most interesting scene so far (I’m on page 279). From this meeting, I realized why it is very easy to make friends when we are in our 20s, but very difficult to maintain it to get through when we are approaching our 40s (I proved it myself). One of the reasons was clearly reflected in what D’Artagnan said in the meeting…

"It is not civil wars which disunite us; it is that we are all twenty years older. The loyal outburst of youth have gone, and given place to the din of interests, the breath of ambition, and the counsels of egotism.” ~D’Artagnan.

And was confirmed by Aramis…

“Men are so constituted, and are not always twenty years old.” ~Aramis.

The fact is, when we reach the 30s, we used to pursue our own interests. Most of us have been married (or at least are thinking to have a family), that our career or business would be our priority. Idealism had been replaced with interest. In this story, D’Artagnan was all thinking about his career in the kingdom, Porthos was seeking his barony, something that he have not possessed yet, while Aramis has his own ambition to pursue a higher position in Church. Maybe it’s only Athos who did not have any strong interest, but his own principle.  

Back to the four friends’ dispute, the tender-hearted Athos could not accept that their meeting should be filled with suspicion, so when Aramis suggested him to bring his weapon for the meeting, the idea broke Athos’ heart…

“Oh, Aramis, upon my soul you make me feel very unhappy! You are disenchanting a heart not quite dead to friendship. I would almost prefer, I swear to you, that my heart should be plucked from my breast.” ~Athos.

Now, when I am analyzing the situation, it is difficult indeed to stay on either side. I am perhaps rather joining D’Artagnan’s (and Porthos) side, for at least he was openly telling the truth when he recruited Athos and Aramis. I agree what D’Artagnan said to Athos…

When I visited you at the Château de Bragelonne, I made you some propositions which you clearly understood, and instead of replying to me as to an old friend, you replied as to a child, and our friendship, of which you boast, was not broken yesterday by crossing swords, but by your dissimulation. ~D’Artagnan.

I am rather disappointed to know that Athos lied to D’Artagnan. With Aramis, I can understand, for he was always an opportunist, but Athos? Who—like D’Artagnan said—have always been praising their friendship…., how can he do it to D’Artagnan? Because he was afraid D’Artagnan would double-cross him by reporting to Cardinal? Oh come on Athos, you are a good diplomat; you know how to win D’Artagnan? Is it a sign that trustworthy had begun to disappear? See…how difficult it is to maintain your true friendship when you were overpowered by your own interests?

However, I am quite relieved that Dumas chose to reconcile those four friends through Athos, the leader and father of them all…

“We have lived together, hated and loved together, have spilt our blood, and perhaps, I will add also, there is between us a tie more powerful than that of friendship…” ~Athos.

And once again (I hope in the next chapters), four of them would fight again together for the sake of nothing-but-truth! Come on guys….you can do it!

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