Friday, January 20, 2012

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.)


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