D'Artagnan is Choleric. Cholerics are natural leaders who want to accomplish lots (all manner of things). They have a strong desire to achieve their goals (Littauer, Your Personality Tree 24). They are born leaders that act quickly in most situations (Littauer, Personality Plus 16). Unfortunately, they can be controlling and bossy (Littauer, Your Personality Tree 24) and are more interested in achieving goals than understanding the emotions of others (Littauer, Personality Plus 55). D'Artagnan does not boss his friends but he does use his influence to reach his goals. He doesn't worry about the pain he causes others or the "necessary losses."
For example, when he discovers that Ketty, a servant of Milady, is in love with him, he encourages that love in order to achieve his goals: vengeance on Milady and a night in Milady's room. By feeding Ketty's love (through kisses and pretending that he loves her), he could attain letters addressed to his adversary, intelligence, and access to Ketty's room at all hours which is connected to Milady's own (431). We see that Ketty's sentiments were nothing to him for Dumas writes that d’Artagnan had already sacrificed Ketty in his mind in order to obtain Milady by her will or by force (431). « Le perfide, comme on le voit, sacrifiait déjà en idée la pauvre fille pour obtenir Milady de gré ou de force » (431). In the end d'Artagnan had his way. He avenged himself and he made love with Milady (468-472).
The three musketeers and d’Artagnan went on a quest to bring back the Queen’s ferrets (jewelry) and so save her from trouble (Dumas 219-282). D’Artagnan was the head of this mission (249). The mission succeeded but he was very hard on the horses because he felt extreme hast was necessary for the success of the mission. One horse fell with blood running from his nose and eyes. Thus, the mission succeeded because he was dedicated to the goal and did not count the lives of horses as worthy reasons to halt.
In Vingt Ans Après, d'Artagnan is forty years old and thus is a seasoned adult; no longer a brash young man. Yet, his choleric temperament is in some ways more pronounced than ever. In Les Trois Mousquetaires, d’Artagnan frequently asks his friends for advice and they formulate their plans together, while in the sequel, he just tells Porthos what the plan is. Vingt Ans Après starts with d'Artagnan frustrated that he has not advanced in life. He is still a lieutenant of the musketeers which is where Dumas left him in Les Trois Mousquetaires. He did not advance up the ranks of command, but stayed in the same position for twenty years. Our Choleric compares his status and wealth with that of his friends and laments that his friends moved up in life while he did not. Since Cholerics want to be in control (Littauer Your Personality Tree 44) and want to be rising up the social ladder, his frustration is demonstrative of his personality.
Remember that "choler" refers to "anger"? Dumas mentions several times that d'Artagnan became very angry whenever anyone put impediments in his way. In chapter 27, during a desperate pursuit of the escaped M. de Beaufort, d'Artagnan asks a soldier at the castle questions about the escape. The man was rather uncooperative and d'Artagnan becomes angry, yells at the man, and threatens to kill him, and is soon supplied with the information he sought. My loose translation of Dumas' description of the angry d'Artagnan: "The anger rose in d'Artagnan's face, his brow furrowed, his temples colored" (323). This is classic unbridled choleric behavior. Florence Littauer recounts many stories of angry and frustrated Cholerics shouting at or bossing others.
D’Artagnan is still up to his horse killing trick, for on that same mission, he ran two different sets of horses until they collapsed (Dumas, chapter 27). At one point Porthos suggests giving the horses a breather, but d’Artagnan replies “Tuons-les au contraire, tuons-les! Et arrivons," (324) which translates too, “Let’s kill them on the contrary, let’s kill them! And arrive.” He means to run the horses until they die and arrive at their goal without delay.
|Statue of d'Artagnan in Paris|
This mission was a mad one too. He was trying to capture the escaped de Beaufort who had a two hour and a quarter lead (323). He said, “two hours and a quarter, that’s nothing, we’re well mounted, right Porthos?” Porthos replied with a sigh, knowing what misery was to come for his horses. Again, he doesn’t care about the horses being focused on the goal. Cholerics are so goal focused that they will and can undertake what other temperaments would not. They take pleasure in being in control and reaching their goals, while the other temperaments would see it as out of reach and not even attempt it. Littauer writes, “Powerful Cholerics not only like to achieve goals, but they thrive on opposition. If popular Sanguines set out to accomplish a task, and someone says it can’t be done, they thank the person profusely—and quit. Perfect Melancholies regret the time they’ve spent in planning and analyzing the situation, and Peaceful Phlegmatics are grateful it can’t be done, because it sounded like too much work in the first place. But tell Powerful Cholerics it’s impossible, and it just whets their appetite” (Personality Plus 57).
Dumas, Alexandre. Les Trois Mousquetaires. Paris, Garnier Frères:1966
Dumas, Alexandre. Vingt Ans Après. Paris, Garnier Frères: 1962
Littauer, Florence. Personality Plus. Rev. and exp. ed. Tarrytown, New York: Fleming H Revell Company Pub., 1992
Littauer, Florence. Your Personality Tree. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986.