And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None Summary of Chapters 9-12
Lombard is convinced that the two deaths on the island are coincidences, but Dr. Armstrong thinks that Marston’s death was not suicide. Blore thinks that perhaps something that Dr. Armstrong gave to Mrs. Rogers is to blame for her death. He accuses Dr. Armstrong of giving her too much of medicine. Armstrong strongly denies it. Lombard becomes mad with Blore, and Blore confronts him about the reason for bringing a pistol to the Island. Lombard tells them that he expected to run into trouble while on the Island and then he he tells the story about how the Jewboy, Mr. Morris, had convinced him to come to the island. Lombard tells them that he knows now it was all a trap.
Mr. Rogers makes a lunch of tongue and boiled potatoes for the guests, and they all enter the dining room. Emily Brent says that the General is not here yet. Dr. Armstrong volunteers to go and get him, and he leaves the room. There were guests of wind, and Miss Brent says that a storm is coming soon. Then, Armstrong comes back and tells them that General Macarthur is dead. They come back to the table and see that there are only seven Indians left.
Armstrong looks over the body and tells them that he had been killed by a blunt trauma to the back of the head. He tells them that he thinks that the deaths are acts of murder and that Mr. Owen has brought them all to this island in order to kill them. He tells them that he is sure Mr. Owen is on the island and that, in fact, Mr. Owen is one of the guests. The judge begins to go over all the evidence with all of them. He tries to find the killers. Then they all decide that even though Armstrong and Wargrave are good men, and Rogers is just a butler who would have had to kill his wife, there is no way to completely find if any of them are the killer. Mr. Justice Wargrave says, «There is no way to find the score of character, position, or probability».
Wargrave tells them that no one can be eliminated from doing the death of Anthony Marston since a poison had killed him. He says that Mr. Rogers and Dr. Armstrong are the likely suspects in the death of Mrs. Rogers, but many of the other guests could have had the chance to make a perfect amount of poison. Blore wants to know where this all leads. Wargrave talks more on the death of General Macarthur and thinks that Lombard, Armstrong, Blore, and Vera Claythorne all had the chance to kill Macarthur but that each guest had had moments when they were not sure about the others. Wargrave warns them to be more careful and to suspect every one of them.
Lombard talked about if they believe everything that Wargrave said. Lombard said he did not know what to think, but he was sure he was the murder. They both think that it is a dream. Lombard tells says that he does not think that Vera is the murderer, but Vera is not as sure that Lombard is the murderer too. She tells to him that he does not seem to kill someone. He reminds her that if he were to kill one of the others, it would only be for what he could get out of it. Lombard thinks that Wargrave might be the murderer since he’s played God Almighty for a long time and this fact must go to someone’s head soon. Vera says that she thinks it is Dr. Armstrong since two of the deaths were by poison. Lombard says that Armstrong probably would not have had time to kill Macarthur in short time he was alone. Vera tells him that he had the chance when he went down to call the General to lunch.
At the house, Rogers and Blore talk about who they think might be the murderer. Blore says that the person he thinks it is a “very cool customer.” In another room, Dr. Armstrong is going crazy and crying that they must leave the island. Wargrave tells him that in this weather, it is likely that a boat would come or leave the island. Armstrong thinks that Wargrave is probably much more crazy than anyone knows. Wargrave says that, though he does not have proof, that there is one person he thinks is cost likely the killer. Armstrong says that he is confused.
In her room, Miss Brent takes out a small diary and begins to write the events of the day. She notes that Wargrave thinks the murderer is one of the island’s visitors, and that means that one of them is the killer. She sits with her eyes closed for a moment and then, writes The killer is Beatrice. She looks down at what she has written and cannot believe it came from her.
All the guests gather in the drawing room for tea. They close the curtains and turn on a light. Suddenly, Rogers comes in and asks if anyone has taken the bathroom curtain. None of them can understand why anyone would take it. Fear comes over them once again. All the guests eat dinner, and Miss Brent and Vera Claythorne go to their bedrooms. All the men hear the sound of the bolts being locked on their doors. The men go an hour later, and Wargrave tells them to lock their doors. Rogers goes back downstairs and has a thought he locks the dining room door so that no one has the opportunity to sneak in and take another of the Indians.
Lombard wakes up and hears the wind from outside. He goes back to sleep before finally waking up at nine thirty. Thinking that things are weird, he knocks on Blore’s door and wakes him up. They then go to each room and wake the others, except for Miss Brent who cannot be found. They all think it is odd that Rogers has not brought them tea. Then they started to search the house. Miss Brent joins them. She had been walking around outside in the storm, something they all tell her was foolish. Vera then sees that on the dining room table, another of the Indian is missing.
They soon find Rogers in the shed, and he is dead. A large ax leans against the wall with blood on it. Rogers had been hit over the head with it. Armstrong says that he thinks that it would not have taken a strong person to do the fatal blow. Blore finds no fingerprints on the ax. They all hear laughter in the yard and see Vera Claythorne standing there, laughing and asking if there are any bees on the Island. She explains that the murders are going in order of the children’s rhyme. The last line had been, “Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks.” The next line is, “Six little Indian boys playing with a hive.” Dr. Armstrong calms Vera and sends her and Miss Brent into the house to begin preparing breakfast.
Blore pulls Lombard aside and gives him his take on the situation. Blore remembers a case of murder by ax some time ago, an unsolved crime because it seemed too incredible that a housewife could have committed such a killing. This makes Blore believe that it is Miss Brent and her religious that must be the culprit. He reminds Lombard that Miss Brent had been out wandering the island when Rogers was murdered. Lombard and Blore both agree that they do not think the other of the crimes. Blore opens up and tells Lombard that, indeed, he had been responsible for that the man named Landor away to prison where he had died. He did it on a bribe from a crime organization. Lombard promises not to tell. He then tells Blore that he is a target for U.N. Owen because he has not a criminal. Lombard declares that he has his own craziness and plans to get off this island.
In the kitchen, Vera begins to feel bad because she became so hysterical. This brings a memory from her day with Cyril. She tries to calm herself, telling herself that Cyril had drowned long before she had been able to reach the rock where he swam. However, because she knows that Hugo, her true love, knew just from looking at her that she had been there for the death. Vera goes to Miss Brent and talks about how calm she is. She asks her if she is afraid and says, “Don’t you mind dying?” The word shocks Miss Brent, because she had not thought of this before. She thinks, the others would die, but not Emily Brent. At breakfast, everyone is there, but each is thinking about who the murderer could be and who would be the next to die.
When the breakfast is over, they clear the table and wash up. Miss Brent says that she would help, but that she is feeling good. Dr. Armstrong tells her it is everyone in the kitchen. As Miss Brent sits in the dining room, she begins to feel dizzy and to have a quiet buzzing in her ears, like a bee. She thinks it is somebody in the room, but she cannot turn around and scream. She feels a pinch like a bee sting on the side of her neck.
Everyone waits for Miss Brent in the room. Blore speaks up and tells everyone that it is Miss Brent, because of her religious mania. He reminds them that she would not explain herself from the last time. Vera Claythorne tells them that she had confided in her and then tells her the story. Mr. Justice Wargrave observes that it is a reasonable story. They walk into the dining room, looking for Miss Brent, and find her sitting up straight, her face is covered with blood, with blue lips and dead eyes.
Armstrong sees the mark on the side of her neck and declares that someone had injected her with poison from a syringe. In the window, a bee is trapped inside and trying to escape the room. Lombard tells them that this is the killer’s “touch of local color!” Wargrave asks if anyone brought a hypodermic needle, and Armstrong admits that he always travels with one. The entire party moves upstairs and discovers that the needle is missing.
Armstrong insists that someone must have taken the needle, and the judge tells them that one of them must be the murderer. Wargrave suggests that all medicines and Lombard collected it and safely put it away. They all go to Lombard’s room to fetch his collected item and are shocked when he opens a drawer, and it is not there. Each guest submits to a search of his or her person. They are searched except for Miss Claythorne and are searched for any weapon. Mr. Justice Wargrave then takes the collected drugs and medicines into a small case, which he then puts into a cabinet. He locks both and gives the key to the case to Lombard and the key to the cabinet to Blore, reasoning that since they are the strongest physically, one would be able to stop the other from obtaining the other key if one is the murderer. They then decide to search for the revolver, but Blore tells them that he thinks he knows where the syringe might be. He goes into the dining room and finds another broken Indian figure. The syringe is next to it. They search the house for the revolver, but find nothing.
And Then There Were None Summary of Chapters 13-16
The group sits in the drawing room. Armstrong seems nervous; he lights many cigarettes with shaky hands. The guests use candles since Rogers isn’t around to use the generator. Vera says she will go make tea and the other four go watch her make it. They agree that nobody will go anywhere at the same time and the other four will stay together.
Later Vera goes to take a shower and she enters her room and suddenly feels like she is at the seashore where Cyril drowned again. She smells the salt water and the wind blows her candle out and she feels something wet touch her throat and screams.
The men rush to her room and find out it was a piece of seaweed hanging from the ceiling. Lombard thinks it was supposed to scare her to death. Blore goes to get a glass of alcohol and they fight over whether he might have poisoned it. Suddenly they notice that Wargrave isn’t with them. They run downstairs and see him sitting in a chair dressed in the red shower curtain that was missing and a gray judge wig made of wool that Emily lost. Armstrong inspects Wargrave and says that he got shot in the head.
Wargrave’s body is carried to his room. Again everyone notices the similarity to the “Ten Little Indians” poem. The four that were left ate canned tongue for dinner and then went to bed. Everyone thinks they know the killer is but nobody accuses anyone out loud. While entering his room Lombard realizes that his revolver is back in his drawer.
Vera lays awake and is tortured by memories of Cyril’s death. She remembers telling him he could swim out to the rock knowing that he would not be able to make it there so he would drown. She wonders if Hugo knows that she did it. Vera notices there is a hook in the ceiling and realizes that the seaweed must have been hanging from it. For some reason the hook fascinates her.
Blore hears a noise outside and he listens at the door and hears it again. Going into the hall he sees a dark figure going downstairs and out the front door. He checks the rooms and finds out that Armstrong isn’t in his room. He wakes up Lombard and Vera and the two men tell Vera to stay in her room and they run outside to investigate.
In her room Vera thinks she hears the sound of glass breaking and then sneaky footsteps in the house. Blore and Lombard return without finding anybody the island is empty and Armstrong vanished. In the house they found a broken window and only three Indian figures left in the dining room.
The three that are left eat breakfast and pass, they feel like a nightmare passed. Lombard starts to make plans to signal the mainland and they discuss Armstrong’s disappearance and Lombard and Blore get into a fight, Blore finds it suspicious that Lombard has his gun again but Lombard refuses to hand it over. Blore says Lombard might be the killer and Lombard asks why he wouldn’t shoot Blore if he was the killer. Vera yells at them for being distracted and she points out the part of the poem that relates to Armstrong’s death. She also thinks Armstrong isn’t really dead and that he tricked them.
Vera, Blore, and Lombard spend the morning on the cliffs and tried to send a signal to the coast by using a mirror but they didn’t get a answer. They decide to stay outside to stay away the dangers of the house but eventually Blore wanted to get something to eat. He is nervous about going by himself but Lombard refuses to give him his gun. When Blore is gone Lombard tries to convince Vera that Blore is the killer. Vera says she thinks Armstrong is still alive. Then she says that the killer could be alien or something supernatural. Lombard thinks this indicates Vera’s troubled conscience so he asked her if she killed Cyril. She denies it at first but when he asked if there was a man involved she was exhausted and admits that there was.
They hear a loud noise from the house and go to look. Blore got smashed by something thrown out of Vera’s window and it was the marble clock that was shaped like a bear on her mantle. Thinking Armstrong might be in the house, the two wait for help. On their way to the cliffs they see something on the beach below them. They climb down to look and they found Armstrong’s dead body.
Vera and Lombard stand over Armstrong’s dead body. Vera looks at Lombard and sees his wolflike face and sharp teeth. Lombard says that the end has come. Vera says they should move the body above the water line. Lombard agrees and when they are finished Lombard realizes something is wrong and turns around to see Vera pointing his gun at him. She took it out of his pocket. He decided to lunge at her so she pulled the trigger and Lombard fell to the ground. He got shot in the heart.
Vera feels relief and she is exhausted. She heads back to the house to get some sleep before help arrives. As she entered the house she sees the three statues on the table and she breaks two of them and picks the third one up trying to remember the last line of the poem. She thinks it is “He got married and then there were none.” She begins to think of Hugo the man she loved but lost as a result of Cyril drowning. At the top of the stairs she dropped the gun without noticing what she did. She feels sure that Hugo is waiting upstairs for her. When she opens the door to her room she sees a noose hanging from the black hook. She saw that Hugo wanted her to hang herself and then she remembers the real last line of the poem: “He went and hanged himself and then there were none.” Without thought she put her head in the noose and kicked the chair away.
Two policeman named Sir Thomas Legge and Inspector Maine discuss the Indian Island case. They reconstructed most of what happened on Indian Island from diaries kept by different guests. It’s clear to them that the killer wasn’t Blore, Lombard, or Vera. When they got there the police found the chair Vera kicked away to hang herself mysteriously set upright against the wall.
We learned that Isaac Morris who hired Lombard and Blore and bought the island in the name of U. N. Owen died of a sleeping pill overdose the night the guests arrived on the island. The police think that Morris was actually murdered. The police know that the people of Stickle haven were instructed to ignore the distress signals from the island and they were told that everything taking place on the island was part of a game being played by the rich owners of the island and their guests.
Agatha Christie’S “And Then There Were None” – A Novel Written As Drama
Throughout Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”, Christie does a fine job of writing the novel as if it were an actual film or play, to be acted out before the viewers’ eyes. The main reason that the novel can been seen as a drama being staged and arranged, was partly because it was. The end of the novel reveals how the person responsible carried out their act of murdering the house full of killers, in a fairly theatrical fashion with an artistic purpose.
Throughout the novel, Christie stages the death of the characters in very dramatic ways that to the reader appear to be a madman carrying out these acts following a rhyme, but the end of the novel reveals that the killer operated in a way very fitting for a drama. Justice Wargrave details the why and how of his actions, thus discarding the illusion that there was some unseen maniac killing everyone on the island, and explaining his actions from his point of view. At one point he reveals the motive for leaving his note stating that “It was my ambition to invent a murder mystery that no one could solve. But no artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone… I have, let me confess it in all humility, a pitiful human wish that someone should know just how clever I have been.” This statement reveals the sadistically artistic nature of his actions. He killed to satisfy the need he had to kill criminals, and did so in a pattern that made him a serial killer. Like many other serial killers, he could not keep his actions to himself, and felt a compulsive need to tell someone about his crime, even if there was only a chance of someone finding his letter. This also contributes to the events being arranged for artistic effect because it means that he did this to satisfy an inner need of his.
In his letter, he also mentions that he left three clues for police to find, further pointing to the actions on Soldier Island being a kind of drama, played out with artistic effect. The three clues he mentioned were that first, the police knew Edward Seton was guilty and that in a paradoxical fashion he would be the only person on the island that was not a killer before the events took place, so therefore he must be the killer. Second, he says that the “red herring” line of the poem lined up too perfectly with Armstrong’s death and that it would be implied that some trickery was involved in killing him.
Lastly, he says that the mark on his head is the mark of Cain, a symbol placed upon Cain so that everyone would recognize him as a killer. This helps conclude that Wargrave desired to be recognized for his actions, further pointing to the events on Soldier Island being orchestrated in a dramatic and artistic form.
Literary Analysis: And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie
ATTWN Literary Analysis
Homosapiens are the most psychologically complex organisms on Earth. We have governments, languages, arts, music, and technology. Each person on the planet is so incredibly unique that it would be easier to find two identical snowflakes than finding two identical people. However, we do have some things in common, despite what most think. The 10 homicidal characters conjured up by the famous magician of an author, Agatha Christie, are invited to a seemingly-innocent millionaire’s island by the mysterious U. N. Owen in the award-winning novel, And Then There Were None. Each person is invited by different people for different reasons: an old army-buddy reunion, an undercover investigation, and a secretary position. Then, they’re all accused of heinous felonies by a recording and are assassinated one by one until there were none remaining alive. The characters from And Then There Were None represent humankind’s self-preservation, fear, and predictability.
Humans have a knack for blaming others to redirect accusations on themselves. If a student, for example, decided to cheat on a test, they’d probably get a good grade, but they’d be breaking a rule. So, they wouldn’t admit it because it benefits them. This is similar to how the 10 characters from And Then There Were None committed murders and got away with it. They wanted to protect their own well-being and avoid getting in jail. For example, on page 191, Detective William Blore and Philip Lombard are having a heated discussion about Blore’s crime. Blore is continuing to defend himself against Lombard’s accusatory animadversions until he starts challenging Lombard’s rationale for bringing a revolver. They continue to do so in order to preserve themselves. Earlier on, Lombard admits unmitigatedly that he killed twenty-one men that were part of an east-African tribe. He says, “Story’s quite true! I left ’em! Matter of self-preservation. We were lost in the bush. I and a couple of other fellows took what food there was and cleared out. Not quite the act of a pukka sahib, I’m afraid. But self-preservation’s a man’s first duty. (pg. 67)” Similar to Lombard’s arrogant actions, the other characters eventually stop caring about the others’ fates; they just worried about their own futures on the diabolical island they were trapped on. The victims all obstinately say that they did not or will not ever perform any kind of illegal activities, much less murder.
Fear is another drive for the things we people do. On page 265, Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard are in a predicament. After the discovery of Detective Blore’s death, the list of suspects was down to one: each other! Vera finessed Lombard’s revolver, while he was distracted with his back turned to her, and shoots him dead out of fear that he would slay her. Overall, humans don’t want to die. Believe it or not, some people are even terrified of the prospect of dying! Who would’ve thought? So in order to shield themselves from dying a premature death, they do everything in their power, sometimes, to do so. This shows how similar fear and self-preservation really are.
Our species are so intellectual that we can also predict each other’s actions. Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be people who are very close. At the end of the harrowing tale, the murderer, Justice Lawrence Wargrave, explains why he imprisoned 9 other people on an island, executed them one by one, and ended his own life (pgs. 285-300). He was incredibly adroit and was able to foresee how each person would act in a specific situation. He meticulously plotted his ” fantastical crime. (pg. 287)” down to a tee. Wargrave correctly forecasted that Dr. Edward Armstrong would gullibly ally himself with Wargrave and help fake Wargrave’s death and ” rattle the murderer (pg. 295). ” He also knew that the remaining survivors would trust Armstrong’s verdict: “He’s been shot. (pg. 223)” Of course they would assume that what Armstrong said was true because he was a doctor! But, in fact, he was lying. If a man dressed in a police officer’s uniform with a badge with a told you that you were under arrest, put handcuffs on you, and told you to get in his car, you would wouldn’t you? But what if he wasn’t a police officer, but a kidnapper that would steal you for ransom?
This book, however, stole the hearts of people around the globe with over 100 million copies sold, placing it as the sixth best-selling title. Although humans, collectively, are the smartest species on the planet, we still have strengths and weaknesses as everything has; we have powers and flaws such as selfishness, despair, and uniformity. But, in the end, that is what molds us into the remarkable species that we are.
Agatha Christie’S And Then There Were None: Analysis Of Characters
Ten people and one murderer on an isolated island. This is a situation that all of us have never been in, but one that the characters in Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None face. Throughout the book the characters are presented with unexpected murders, and the lingering suspicion that any one of them could be the murderer. They live in fear of each other, and their actions convey that well. The characters in And Then There Were None represent mankind’s strengths and weaknesses by basing their actions off their instincts.
Vera Claythorne was one of the primary characters in the book. She was resourceful, intelligent, and also the last character to die. Her wits are part of the reason she was alive for so long. Throughout the story, Vera always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in the process of figuring out who is behind these murders and how everyone is involved. Even though her mind is one of her greatest assets, it is also one of her most fatal flaws. Her mind was not emotionally stable. During the story, we see instances where she gets hysterical very easily and dreams about the murders. Both of these characteristics are attributed to instincts because near the end of the story, Vera’s instincts and fear take over completely. She was so scared and afraid that instead of using her brains to figure out if Lombard was the killer, she just shot him out of pure instinctAnother example of acting on instinct is Justice Wargrave. Justice Wargrave had a peculiar trait that made him have sadistic delight in seeing or causing death. The text stated, “ From an early age I knew very strongly the lust to kill. ” (Page 285).
This shows that even from an early age, Wargrave knew he had a strong instinct that couldn’t be easily repressed. As he grew older, he went into a profession that satisfied a part of his instincts, but not the whole. He ended up taking action to plot and follow through with this murder just to satisfy his need for death. This is a prime example of acting on instinct because if he had actually been thinking with a clear mind and no additional feelings, he would’ve realized that this whole scheme was very vile and too theatrical. Philip Lombard had a reputation for being obstinate. He was stubborn, impulsive, and very intelligent. These strengths definitely played a part in keeping him alive for that long. But the thing that was most unique about him was that he was the most impulsive person out of the ten people. He was very indignant whenever somebody said something about him, so he would often say or do something impulsive afterward.
Lombard was also known for being very blunt. When questioned about the past murder, he admitted it without qualms. But his biggest weakness was his chivalry. His instinct to underestimate women was inevitably what got him killed. This shows that regardless of all his other strengths, his old- fashioned belief is primarily what he acts on. The characters of And Then There Were None represent mankind’s universal strengths and weaknesses by acting on instinct. They prove that no matter what you do, in the end, your instincts will always override your brain and direct you to make a decision. So the next time you’re alone on an island with strange people and a possible murderer, what will you do?
Literary Analysis Of And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie
The murder mystery of the century! Unfortunately the term, perhaps the genre itself has become so grossly overused, it has lost its meaning to the general public. However, back in 1939 Agatha Christie wrote a novel with such a captivating story and complex characters, the now washed out label “Murder Mystery” hardly does the book justice. Each of the characters and their corresponding actions shine light on the human condition and the strengths and weaknesses it possesses. In Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None Emily Brent, Vera Claythorne, and Dr. Armstrong – each prominent characters in the storyline – in turn represent humanity’s self-righteousness, inherent need of connection, and blind trust in its leaders. Emily Brent was the fifth person to be murdered, drugged with chloral and given a lethal injection of cyanide. Her reason was causing the suicide of a young girl under her care. Unlike most of the characters left alive at that point, she harbored no remorse for her crime. She was religiously devout and believed that because taking your own life was wrong in the eyes of God, she had nothing to feel guilty for.
This led to her commonly used justification when asked about the incident, “I have nothing with which to reproach myself. ” Her puritan views further fed into her feelings of superiority over the other characters because she used them to detach herself from her negative feelings over anything she may have done wrong. I believe that because of her actions and words in the novel up until her death, Emily Brent represents humanity’s self-righteousness and tendency to justify their wrongdoings under the shield of religion. Vera Claythorne, the last surviving person excluding Justice Wargrave, represents humanity’s built-in need for communication and connection. This may be viewed as a weakness in a life or death situation, as being too open may lead to your information being spread, making your murder easier. However, in And Then There Were None this particular trait was portrayed as a strength. Vera’s social nature made those around her trust and confide in her. Rather than playing her as an overly naive girl bound to wind up dead before the third chapter, she is played as an emotionally warped young woman, wise beyond her years, who only murdered in the first place for love. She is stable and upbeat on the outside, but almost at her breaking point within. Because of this, most characters, including Lombard, wrote her off as unthreatening until it was too late.
After shooting Philip Lombard in a moment of panic and fear, Vera is mentally exhausted and broken. Justice Wargrave sets the stage in her room and in a trance, she hangs herself. Both a blessing and a curse, Vera Claythorne’s character symbolises mankind’s need for connection, and what that instinct may drive it to do. Dr. Armstrong, the sixth person to die, embodies man’s blind trust in its leaders. He was killed by being pushed off a cliff after Wargrave convinced him to lean over the edge. Armstrong allied with the former beforehand, who was still pretending to be an innocent guest. He helped fake Wargrave’s death in a plot to throw off the murderer. It was stated by the Justice in his confession letter that “He knew me by sight and reputation and it was inconceivable to him that a man of my standing could actually be a murderer!” (p. 294) leading to the conclusion that Armstrong based his trust on status alone and didn’t think to judge a person’s character; a dangerous flaw to have when one among a group is a killer.
This weakness of trust in a self-proclaimed leader without question eventually lead to his death. In his poor judgement and the actions it led to, Dr. Armstrong represents humanity’s blind trust in its leaders. Overall, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is a fantastic novel that encapsulates many of mankind’s supreme strengths and fatal weaknesses into only ten characters. From religious devotion to unquestioning trust in its questionable leaders, it’s amazing to see every corner of humanity come together and watch as their lives are put on the line.
Don’t Be Such a Copycat!: From “And Then There Were None” to “Ten”
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. However, that can only go so far before it is criticized as lacking originality; some might even claim it only creates a worse version of something that may have been praised as being the best. Nonetheless, it all depends on whether or not something is an identical copy of an original work or if it is just based off the main idea of the original plot. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is recognized around the world as a great novel due to its sophisticated plot. Given this praise, many others have taken on the task of emulating Christie’s work with similar mystery novels. Gretchen McNeil’s Ten is an example of such a novel. She uses the plot and the character development to write a novel that appeals to contemporary teenagers. McNeil’s story by no means surpasses Christie. Nevertheless, her twist on the story allowed for a captivating novel. Through imitation of the plot, character development and puzzle elements, McNeil successfully wrote an inspired novel based on Christie that is just as suspenseful and captivating.
The biggest similarities between these two novels begin with the most important attribute: the plot. McNeil’s novel is plotted identically to that of Christie’s, in which ten characters are united through a random event in which they later discover they will each be killed as a means of vengeance. They all meet on a remote island, which is only accessible by a boat that mysteriously never returns once they all reach their destination. Nevertheless, there are some slight alterations in McNeil’s novel that adhere to the changes in time period. Foremost, Christie’s novel was written in 1939, which can be observed based on how the story is set up. All the characters are older and rely on their own instincts and impulses as a means of attempting to survive. However, in McNeil’s story, these minor details are somewhat tweaked. Her characters are all teenagers, which implies that these characters are not as mature and depend on some sort of guidance. Additionally, there is a small component that might not be easy to catch, that being the mentioning of the use of technology. McNeil writes, “’The phones,’ Kumiko said slowly like she was speaking to a child, ‘are out’… The concept sunk in. What were they going to do? No phones, no cells, no internet.” (80-81) Considering this novel was written in 2012, there is a major difference between the eras that Christie’s novel was written versus McNeil. The technology that is available today did not exist during the time that Christie wrote this novel, which in itself adds an interesting element to the story because the characters must find other means to attempt to communicate with someone to get them off the island. By contrast, 2012 falls within the era in which technology has boomed, thus it was an insightful detail for McNeil to incorporate. Had she not included this minor detail, it may have been more difficult for readers to understand how the teenagers would figure out how to get off the island since technology is accessible and it would not make sense if they did not take advantage of it.
Another similarly structured concept based off of Christie’s work is the character development throughout the novel. A lot (if not all) of the characters in McNeil’s work were similar to those of Christie’s. For example, readers meet Minnie in the very beginning. She appears to be normal at first, but readers quickly learn that there is something off about her. McNeil writes, “Meg recognized the sharpness in Minnie’s voice. It usually signaled a rapid change in Minnie’s mood, which happened all too frequently these days, especially when she stopped taking her antidepressants.” (2) It is easy to note that Minnie was an unstable character without her medications, thus showing she has some kind of mental disorder (later proven to be bipolar disorder). This kind of mental instability is shown in Vera. To further support this, Christie writes, “She cried out in a high shrill voice, shaken with wild bursts of laughter… They stared at her uncomprehendingly. It was as though the sane well-balanced girl had gone mad before their eyes.” (186) Although Vera’s character appeared normal, readers were aware that any sign of vulnerability could bring out her madness. In a similar sense, both these characters portray instability. Vera’s unpredictability derives from her obsession for Hugo, and how she was willing to do anything for him. With regards to Minnie, her instability is due to her bipolar disorder, which is a serious medical illness. However, the authors choose different endings for these characters: Christie had Vera surprisingly killing the only person left alive with her, but her own insanity led her to suicide. In the case of McNeil, this ending needed to be changed because readers were already aware of Minnie’s weakness, thus having her be the killer would take away from the suspense since that would be the reader’s first guess. Nevertheless, McNeil’s incorporation of this concept with the ultimate killer in her novel was subtler, and thus just as successful.
While Christie successfully demonstrated how insanity can lead you to suicide in the case of Vera, McNeil keeps the element of surprise but with a different killer. She still emulated the idea of insanity but in a different form. She continues writing, “Claire sent her diary with a note. Make them understand what they did, Tom. All of them. So that’s what I’m doing. Making you understand.” (278) Even though it is understandable that Tom would want to seek vengeance for his sister’s suicide, the way in which he handled it was twisted. Every time his sister was bullied or mocked in school, he made sure that those people paid for their actions, thus further demonstrating that his sense of protectiveness extended to the point of insanity. In this sense, Tom emulates Wargrave, who was Christie’s prime murderer. Wargrave blatantly accepts his madness when he says, “I have wanted-let me admit it frankly-to commit a murder myself…I must-I must-I must-commit a murder!” (Christie 287). Both characters act upon a vengeance that is led with partial reasoning and majority lunacy, but the ways in which these authors go about creating their characters and their development differs. McNeil is just as successful as Christie in surprising readers about who the true culprit is with the incorporation of a lunatic brother who seeks to avenge his sister’s suicide. However, the variability between these character developments adds for a more complex plot twist.
Christie was very clever in regards to the way in which she incorporated different elements to supplement the puzzle. She went about doing this by using a nursery rhyme, where it starts of with ten soldiers and ultimately none are left standing in the end. This was the most powerful element Christie incorporated because it kept readers on edge about who would be killed next and how the murder would follow the death described in the nursery. On the other hand, McNeil did not incorporate a detailed story that the murders would follow. It was not until later on in the story that readers may or may not have caught on to Claire’s diary, which depicted how the murders would go about. Nonetheless, it was subtler, and had she not written out the main character’s train of thought it would have completely slipped a reader if they were not actively seeking out a clue. She writes, “He said if I really loved him, I’d help him because if I didn’t, it would be like I was shooting him through the heart… The writing. The deaths. A suicide note on the back of sheet music. Images of a gavel like they use in the debate team. Math problems scrolling across the screen. Vengeance is mine.” (202) In this scene, Meg, the main character, is trying to explain to herself how Nathan was shot in the heart, because it sounded familiar to her. It was only after she recalled that she had read it in Claire’s diary that she realized that Tom was following his sister’s words in an implicit way. This in itself was a lot stronger than Christie’s approach because it required readers to pay extremely close attention to the minor details, details that would have completely slipped the mind if the main character had not thought about it. This further shows how McNeil was meticulous about when to give out clues to readers in such a way that Christie lacked.
As is the norm between these authors, whatever one lacked the other one was good at. Christie did a good job in incorporating little china figures as a means of counting down the deaths. She continues writing, “In the middle of the table the little china figures. Ten of them there were…When I was clearing up, there wasn’t but nine… But now, when I came to clear away… There’s only eight!” (105-106). It was Roger who noticed that the china figures began to disappear as the murders took place. Although one could argue that there was no point to the china figures, it helped readers keep track of how many characters were left standing. McNeil did her best to imitate this concept in order to allow her readers to follow, but the method in which she decided to go about doing this was not as effective. She used a slash mark in red paint in order to keep tally of who remained alive. This technique was not as effective because it did not really follow the plot of her story. Christie’s made more sense because it complimented the nursery rhyme that she incorporated, whereas McNeil seemed to have added it in a means of turning the mystery novel more into a horror story. As a result, this was a poor execution of the puzzle element because it disrupted the flow of the story.
Imitation ultimately comes down to creativity. Authors need to find ways in which to use inspirational novels as a starting point to their stories, but not to the point where it can be misinterpreted as plagiarism. This is a trending style that goes on in contemporary culture, and whether or not an author is successful ultimately depends on the readers and their perspectives. Agatha Christie opened up pathways for upcoming authors in the decades that followed the success of her novel to an author like Gretchen McNeil. While McNeil took a lot of the basic plot, character and puzzle elements that Christie used, her novel was not a carbon copy. Rather, she managed to use these elements and change them into her own, succeeding in some and falling short in others. Overall, her emulation of Christie’s greatest work was enticing enough to be a successful mystery/horror novel.
Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. New York: Harper, 1939. Print.
McNeil, Gretchen. Ten. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. Print.
Murder: In the Name of Justice
“He choked — choked badly. His face contorted, turned purple. He gasped for breath — then slid down off his chair, the glass falling from his hand” (Christie 74). So begins Justice Wargrave’s murderous machinations on Soldier Island. In the novel And Then There Were None, Justice Wargrave’s sociopathic tendencies allow him to have several personalities. His Id is active when he plans the murders of ten strangers, his Superego is strongest when he is fighting for justice and the sanctity of the law, and his Ego is in play while he is around other guests, putting on a “normal” facade. These identities shape him to be the perfect character to commit the murders flawlessly and without remorse.
The Id is characteristically “the psychic force that motivates the tendency to seek immediate gratification of any impulse” (Schacter 481). This is an adequate description of Justice Wargrave’s murderous tendencies, which were active even when he was a child. After his vile plot was complete, he put a message in a bottle to describe his background and to truly explain how clever he was. In the letter, he admits: “I was born with other traits besides my romantic fantasy. I have a definite sadistic delight in seeing or causing death. I remember experiments with wasps–with various garden pests… From an early age I knew very strongly the lust to kill” (285). While he talks of justice and upholding the law, his deeper, darker, and truer thoughts consist of gaining pleasure from ending life. He mentions that he has always wanted to commit a murder. These thoughts are not typical in the average person’s day-to-day life. He has a unique connection to the Id within him in which he is comfortable indulging its desires and dark fantasies. According to psychology, everyone has some part of an Id influencing their thoughts and actions, which could almost make Justice Wargrave a bit more relatable to readers. However, the way his mind functions differs markedly from the minds of the vast majority. Most would never follow through on horrifying thoughts of murder. Because of his rare psyche, he is a cruel and heartless character to anyone who does not commiserate with him.
The Superego “… can be thought of as a type of conscience that punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt” (Reber). This side of Justice Wargrave is witnessed when he makes judgements and upholds the law under any circumstance. His entire fascination with his murderous plot was to bring people to justice who normally could not be proven guilty. He disapproves of the nine hidden criminals escaping fate so easily. One of the ways he punishes their misbehavior is by playing mind games to bring out past guilt. At the commencement of their stay on the island, a recording is played throughout the mansion informing all guests of one another’s misdeeds. Their reactions are telling of their past crimes and the guilt that followed: “The voice had stopped. There was a moment’s petrified silence and then a resounding crash!… At the same moment, from somewhere outside the room there came a scream and the sound of a thud” (48). Some guests react to the shocking accusations more calmly than fainting or dropping a tea tray, but nonetheless, every guest is affected by the fear that their murky pasts may be discovered. In the midst of this chaos, the Judge once again relies on his Superego to explain that he was falsely accused: “‘Nevertheless, on the evidence, he was certainly guilty… I did my duty and nothing more. I passed sentence on a rightly convicted murder’” (65). Wargrave is accused of sending an innocent man to death, but he defends himself by saying that the primary judgement was correct and that the man was indeed guilty. With the aid of his Superego, he has the power to take control of a turbulent situation and bring about the righteousness of the law unto a room full of felons.
The Ego “attempts to mediate between id and reality” (Freud 110). This is precisely what the other guests see from Justice Wargrave during their stay. That is to say they see the mask he wears in their presence to bury any and all suspicion. He is mindful of the fact that if any part of the Id festering inside of him leaks through the careful concealment, the original plan will fall through. Because the stakes are high in this particular operation, he knows he needs to tread carefully and be manipulative in order to succeed. On one such occasion, he endeavors to take over a crazed situation with seemingly reasonable suggestions. While other guests scramble to discover information about their host, Mr. Owen, Justice Wargrave enters with a calming, resolute voice and the start of a solution: “‘We are all his guests. I think it would be profitable if each one of us were to explain exactly how that came about’” (57). Immediately, a sense of security and hope spreads through the party as their focus shifts from their present trepidation to actively working toward a resolution. With the sheer complexity of his mind and the full extent of his knowledge, Justice Wargrave effortlessly manipulates a crowd of strangers to change their mindsets, bettering his chances at succeeding without a hint of suspicion. His ego, in the psychological sense, helps the id’s ambitions become reality in a way that satisfies the needs of both the Id and the Superego.
Throughout the enigmatic life of Justice Wargrave, he has been self-aware. At a young age, he yearned to commit a murder. He has known that his thoughts are unique and that, if shared with others, they could lead him to a miserable future of isolation. Caution was crucial to his survival and success. By separating himself into three personalities working together; the Id looking for primal satisfaction, the Superego staying true to the law, and the Ego mediating between them and finding the best solution, he became an unsuspected but completely unstoppable force that could literally get away with murder. Not one of the guests on the island could compare to his vast abilities, and he knew that not one of them had a chance of staying alive. Carefully planning every miniscule step in the process and annihilating the criminals one by one, he is delighted with the final product and it satisfies every abnormal need he had previously felt. Even today, sociopaths walk among billions of people without being discovered. Their dark genius may never be understood by anyone who cannot identify with their rare situation. These people and Justice Wargrave have the power to take control of others in many instances without their conscious knowledge. With her acute understanding of sociopathic behavior, Christie creates the profoundly credible character of Justice Wargrave, a calculating and bitter executioner.
Works Cited Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1940.Schacter, Daniel. Psychology. 2nd ed., Worth Publishers, 2009.Reber, Arthur S. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology. 4th ed., Penguin Books, 2009.Freud, Sigmund. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. W. W. Norton & Company, 1990.