Athos, Porthos, Aramis…. This is the usual order. So, after noble Athos comes giant Porthos.
When D’Artagnan arrived first time to M.de Treville antechamber, he noticed, among the other musketeers, the man who immediately caught his eye. This was Porthos, of course!
“The center of the most animated group was a musketeer of great height, and haughty countenance, dressed in a costume so peculiar as to attract general attention”.
Porthos wore a “magnificent baldric, worked in gold, which shone like water ripples in the sun”, and everybody admired this embroidered baldric, which was disclosed from the front, but covered with the long cloak from the back. Later we discover (with the help of D’Artagnan), that Porthos’ shiny baldric was embroidered with gold only at front, but was nothing but simple buff behind. This unpleasant discovery brought to D’Artagnan his next duel challenge – with Porthos.
Porthos! This fellow is like a peacock. He is totally opposite to silent Athos. He talks a lot, and talks loud. The good thing is that he does not care if anybody is listening, says Dumas. This guy just likes the sound of his voice. He willingly talks about all sorts of things, except for sciences (which he hates from the early childhood).
While Athos is an aristocrat in his nature, Porthos is pretending to be the one. He also likes to brag about his successes with women (the higher the title and the rank in society the better). However, we can’t help but notice, that this victories at the “love battlefronts” are often imaginary.
So, even not very sharp reader, very soon understands that Porthos is not very smart and will provide a lot of opportunities for comic relief for the author. The reader is not mistaken. See Chapter 25 for the brilliant example. Another good example is the story of Porthos acquiring his outfit and equipment for the upcoming campaign. By the way, this story showed that Porthos may be a simpleton, but crafty enough to solve his problem using romantic feelings of his mistress.
Porthos, at first glance, is unable to attract so much reader’s respect and sympathy as noble Athos.
However, while we follow Dumas and musketeers along the streets of Paris and countryside roads of France, we start to notice those new attractive features of this giant’s character. He is, maybe, pompous, but naïve, sometimes naïve like a child. He is brave and always ready to fight for the friends. He is loyal, dedicated and honest in his friendship, almost like a dog. He is never desperate, always optimistic and full of energy.
Also, there is one thing, for which we should be grateful to him. He found the lackey for D’Artagnan. Porthos found Planchet. In other words he found the true and precious companion for D’Artagnan, without whom many future escapades and adventures are simply hard to imagine.
Glorious he picked up Planchet at the bridge, we this worthy man stood, spitting in the river and observing the rings on the water surface. Porthos pretended that this occupation was a proof of a reflective and contemplative organization, and he had brought him away without any other recommendation.
I think D’Artagnan owes him for this. Actually, we, the readers, too.