Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicken à la king

Henri IV, King of France, said "I want the peasants to put a chicken in the pot every Sunday."  The king's kind wish has a striking resemblance to President Herbert Hoover's campaign slogan: "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage"
Interesting that they both used chicken to represent a good meal, but why not?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Machiavelli and a Musketeer

"Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse.  The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved." -Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
Aramis expresses similar ideas in Twenty Years After, "My first opinion had been entirely for the cardinal: I told myself that a minister (of state) is never loved, but with the genius that one accords to this one, he would finish by triumphing  over his enemies and by making himself feared, which, in my opinion, is better maybe than making himself loved." Dumas finds this to be a "doubtful maxim."
Machiavelli lived from 1469-1527. Twenty Years After takes place in 1648 but was written by Dumas in the 1800s.

Translation of the quote from Vingt Ans Après (Twenty Years After) is a mix of my own and the version of the book on The Literature Network.      The Literature Network: Twenty Years After

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Musketeers in Marketing

The four musketeers and their distinctive personalities have been employed as advertisement. I thought this was pretty clever. Although not touching on all the same traits as I, this company also classified the famous four.  They captured certain dominant traits in two words and a cider in the picture and then described each man and the matching cider on the side of their webpage.  The descriptions of the characters are accurate and the descriptions of the ciders fit well with their characters.  Clever, clever. Well done. Even the colors of the cider are appropriate!
Click here to open the cider webpage in a new window.

The Musketeer Series: Post 5, Athos

Athos always seemed to command respect. This is surprising when looking at some of his behavior for he was a heavy drinker and ridiculous gambler in the first book. However he is good with the blade, brave, and possesses nerves of steel. He speaks little, but is observant. This dual feature is one that marks him as a Pleg-Mel.  One of my brothers is the same way.  Dumas tells us directly that Athos is phlegmatic, but doesn't say that he is melancholy, however his sensitivity and deep emotions are evidence of this.
Phlegmatics are quiet people with a dry wit who love peace and tranquility yet can be tenaciously stubborn (Littauer). They also have a desire to be respected because they can be overlooked due to their quiet steadiness (Littauer). They hide their emotions (Personality Plus 65) and are natural mediators (Littauer). One Phlegmatic flaw is "in-action."  Because they love to take their ease, they are not seeking advancement or trying to finish lots of things like a Choleric. Instead they are content to sit were they fall. According to Littauer, they think of all potential actions in terms of energy conservation: they try to use as little as possible.  When the four friends were in need of money to buy equipment for the military campaign they were about to embark on, each employed their own strategy for finding it.  Athos' was quite unique. He decided that he would do nothing and stay at his lodgings waiting for money to come to him (Dumas). If it did not, then he would find some of Richelieu's soldiers to fight with and die in an honorable dual (Dumas).  The reason for this tactic: he did not want to "risk a step to find equipment." In other words, he did not want to waste a step. He would rather not "waste" energy trying to find equipment but would wait, and if it did not come he would go and die fighting in a duel for the king and save himself the trouble of finding equipment. Certainly eccentric, yet definitely Phlegmtatic.  
Phlegmatics can also be very obstinate (Your Personality Tree 49). Most of the time they just don't care enough to be obstinate, but when they do, they are immovable. Regarding the incident above, Dumas says, "He was resolved to not risk a step to equip himself." To this resolution Athos held firm.  Another time, Athos went ballistic and shut himself and his servant in a wine cellar for 15 days. He more than avenged himself for being falsely accused of paying with fake money (Dumas 358,361).    
One Phleg-Mel trait is the dislike of conversation.  I say this because both my brother and Athos possess this attitude. Athos economizes his words and communicates with his servant by gestures and even rebukes his servant for speaking aloud without permission. In regards to his servant, his philosophy seemed to be, "why use two words when one will suffice? And why use any words when a hand signal will suffice?"  For some Phlegmatics, this desire to cut back on talk stems perhaps stems from their desire to avoid conflict. Discussion can easily turn to debate or to uncomfortable topics. Littauer finds that Melancholies like to work alone because conversation slows progress (Personality Plus 34). For me, as a Melancholy, I find that this is true and that conversation disrupts my thought process for I can't think when people are talking loudly, even if they're not specifically addressing me. And so, putting all of this together I surmise that speech is disruptive to the Phlegmatic's desire for peace and the Melancholy's desire to think deeply.  Phleg-Mels have no use for useless chatter: it requires a response from them which is work and disrupts their thoughts which are engaged on a deeper level and are more important (in their eyes) than small talk.
Littauer tells us that Phelgmatics are not emotional and hide their emotions.  Melancholies on the other hand, are emotional but often hide their feelings deep inside themselves, subtly giving clues or suddenly exploding when they can't take it any longer (atleast, that's what I do).  Athos hides his feelings and can act very calm when he is afraid.  Dumas remarks multiple times the "Sang-froid" of Athos, in other words, his ability to be "calm, cool, and collected," which Littauer in turns declares to be a Phlegmatic trait (with these words exact).
In the sequel Athos received a short visit from his son Raoul. Raoul asked his permission to go and visit some friends which Athos lovingly granted, but as soon as Raoul left the room he laments how quickly the lad's thoughts turned from him to others.  Typical Melancholy. Giving to those they love even when it pains them and feeling hurt about it. They read farther into little things others might not even notice and take them to heart. (Based on Littauer).
There is so much that could be said, so much more that could be analyzed, but this is pretty long already so I think I'll leave off here.... ; )

 « car au milieu de l’effroi général lui seul avait conservé ce calme et ce sang-froid de grand seigneur qui ne le quittaient jamais » -Dumas

"For, in the middle of the general terror, he alone had conserved this calm and this composure of a great lord that quitted him never. -Dumas (Translation by Edana A.)


Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Musketeer Series: Post 4, Aramis

We see that Aramis is neither Choleric nor Sanguine because he neither takes control nor is talkative.  Under scrutiny, one sees that he is a Melancholy.  Melancholys seek perfection and the ideal and are depressed because they don't find it in this world (Littauer, Your Personality Tree 46).  They are analytical and pay attention to the little details (Littauer, Personality Plus 15, 38-39).  They like order and are orderly and organized (39, 15).  As introverts (15) they study their own thoughts and feelings.  Aramis, though serving as a musketeer, planned on joining the Church one day.  The Catholic Church has a system of hierarchy and the monks and priests  live in an orderly fashion as they strive for perfection by abandoning the sins of the world.  Aramis studied theology and at one point he began working on a thesis under the guidance of church officials (336).  So we see that Aramis has a bent for the scholarly pursuits and analysis.  This is fitting with the Melancholy personality since Melancholies tend to do well in school because they pay attention to details and many are perfectionists.   
            Aramis was chosen to write an important note about a delicate business because he was the one with knowledge and finesse in matters like this.  This scene is a charming little anecdote because the personalities of the different characters come out quite clearly. D’Artagnan, the go-getter Choleric tries to write the note but lacks the finesse needed and instead said brash things that would be rude (585). Athos, the Phleg-Mel of noble birth, understands what sort of things not to say and corrects D'Artagnan's mistakes, but either not wanting to take the trouble or else recognizing Aramis' superior skill he recommends the task to him.  Cholerics are not known for patience and d’Artagnan was soon frustrated with Athos' corrections, at which point the work was given over to Aramis. As a Melancholy, Aramis did not snap up the task in the first place but waited until his talents are recollected by the others. After d'Artagnan's rough attempts, Athos told him to give the plume to "the abbot" since it suited him -meaning Aramis- and Porthos seconded the idea declaring him a writer of theses (585).  Once finished, Aramis read his note, "as if each word had been scrupulously weighed" (587). Thus we see Aramis' attention to detail.  The note was so well written that Athos praised it and placed Aramis on par with the Seceretary of State (587).   
We are also told that Aramis has beautiful teeth "of which, like the rest of his person, he seemed to take the best care" (Dumas 38).  The tidiness of the Melancholy carries over into hygiene and appearance, so they tend to be dressed neatly and appropriately, and guard every hair in place (based on Littauer).
There is much more that one could say on this subject, but I believe this is enough for the time being.  If you read the book then you may see for yourself how these characters come to life while picking up other clues to their personalities. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Musketeer Series: Post 3, Porthos

« Parce que, Porthos parlant plus haute que nous tous, il l’a pris pour le chef » -D'Artagnan

Porthos is Sanguine. Sanguines are talkative and like to draw attention to themselves (Littauer, Personality Plus 14, 22).  They also like new things, like presents or clothing, and dislike a structured routine, they like things to be exciting and fun (153-154) Florence Littauer (a Sanguine herself) says that Sanguine women want lots of clothes, money, and parties (154). She also said that even just little gifts will make them happy so when her husband brings home a loaf of bread he presents it to her as if it were a gift, even though it is really just groceries (Littauer). 
The first time we see Porthos in the book, he is surrounded by a group expressing his ideas loudly while wearing his new golden baldric (Dumas 251).  Here, Porthos is exhibiting three very typical Sanguine behaviors: talking loudly, wearing a new and beautiful baldric that also draws more attention to himself, and finally, he is the center of attention. As a Sanguine, he must have been thoroughly enjoying himself! 
Porthos' Sanguine personality is visible in other occurrences. We see his loud, attention drawing characteristics during the quest for the diamond ferrets.  One of Richelieu's spies singled out Porthos as the leader of the group because he spoke louder than everyone else (Dumas 251).  Florence Littauer wrote, "The most obvious way to spot a Popular Sanguine is by listening in on any group and locating the one who is the loudest and chatting the most constantly" (Littauer, Personality 21).
I already mentioned that the Sanguine's love of new clothes. I think a fairly accurate way to describe them would be "spiffy dressers."  At any rate, Porthos is one for Dumas mentions several times that Porthos dressed well and it was evident that he had a taste for the show of luxury. One time d’Artagnan finds Porthos dressed in "magnificent clothes covered with splendid embroideries" and looking at himself in the mirror (783).  Going back to that first scene with the golden baldric, Dumas uses the word « bizarrerie » to describe his costume. This words can mean, "eccentricity, peculiarity, or strangeness," Dumas continues by saying that this outfit drew the general attention and that the crowd admired his baldric with enthusiasm. This baldric was decorated with embroidered with gold that shone.  So, we see that Porthos is dressing quite Sanguine. 
Sanguines love to talk and listen to themselves talk, be the center of attention, and perform for others.  While Sanguines exhibit the above characteristics, their main drive in life is to have fun and when they are doing these things, they are having fun. In Vingt Ans Après, Porthos is wealthy but unhappy because he is bored. D'Artagnan discovers this fact and appeals to his Sanguine nature with promises of adventure and that the title of Baron will be bestowed on him if he will join him in the service of Cardinal Mazarin.  

The Three Musketeers