1.1 Most detective fictions involves this. E.g.
in Sherlock Holmes, the reader has no
doubt that Holmes will solve the case.
The pattern of the detective genre is
used by Christie - the reader has no
doubt that Poirot will solve the case
because Sheppard repeatedly reminds
the reader that Poirot has solved it.
1.2 The question is not 'if' order will be
restored but 'how'. The predictability
of this theme is something the reader
can count on with certainty. Spring
2 "Murder of
2.1 Unlike other gruesome
Christie's novel is set in
polite 'civilized' upper
and middle class world
of Britain in the first half
of the 20th century.
2.2 She often eschews violent crimes and
macabre descriptions of violence - instead,
her characters retain their manners and
civility throughout. There are no scenes of
violence, or gore; instead, the novel primarily
features characters having civilised
discussions and attending social gatherings.
2.3 The rules of middle and
upper-class England are
rigidly applied to all
characters, who behave
2.4 E.g. Even when he has
been formally accused by
Poirot of being the
murderer, Dr. Sheppard
doesn't respond with
instead politely disagrees
and returns home.
3 Nature vs. Nurture in
Creating a Criminal
3.1 A major human question is one of
“nature” vs. “nurture” - does a
person’s environment determine their
behavior, or is their behavior
determined by their innate character.
3.2 At the end of Chapter 17, Poirot’s
allegorical story about a weak man
who, when desperate enough or
provoked in just the right way, is
moved to commit a crime,
articulates the novel’s stance on this
debate. It is the precise combination
of a weak character and the right
circumstances (both nature and
nurture) that create a criminal.
3.2.1 In the case of Dr. Sheppard, it
was his “streak of weakness”
combined with the opportunity
to make easy money, and then
the desperate need to hide his
behavior, that provoked him to
commit murder. Sheppard is not
a sociopath nor a hardened
criminal, merely a weak man who
was put in a tempting situation.
3.2.2 Flora declares herself a weak character,
and it is this weakness combined with a
desperation for money that caused her
to steal from her uncle.
4 The Danger
4.1 Nearly every character in The
Murder of Roger Ackroyd has a
secret, and the danger of keeping
these secrets to themselves is
demonstrated again and again.
4.1.1 Even secrets unrelated to the murder can be dangerous. Major Blunt is
desperately in love with Flora, but he keeps the secret to himself, which prevents
him from finding the happiness that he could find if he shared his love with her.
4.2 Flora keeps the secret that she never
actually said goodnight to her uncle before
he was murdered, which prevents the
investigators from determining an accurate
time of death for Ackroyd, and thus throws
suspicion onto innocent characters.
5 The Power
5.1 Although many characters in the novel act
on impulse and are motivated entirely by
emotion, Poirot’s brilliance lies in his ability
to distance himself from his emotions and
consider every fact objectively.
5.1.1 He constantly references the
importance of his “method” – the
way he systematically considers the
facts, taking nothing for granted
and no one at his word, until he can
painstakingly build the truth from
the facts he has collected.
5.1.2 Unlike Flora or Colonel Melrose both of
whom are convinced but unable to prove
that Ralph is innocent because of their
emotional connection to him, Poirot
maintains objectivity with regards to Ralph.
Poirot is able to prove Ralph's innocence
through thorough investigation of the facts.
5.2 It is only with this “method” that Poirot
ultimately triumphs over the seemingly
impossible case that manages to baffle
every other character in the novel.
6.1 As much as the novel
promotes the power of
method and logic, it
similarly points out the
danger of assumptions.
6.2 Nearly every time a
character makes an
having used method
and logic to back it up,
they are proven wrong.
6.3 The most powerful
example of this theme,
demonstrated with the
reader himself. Most
people on their first
read of The Murder of
Roger Ackroyd assume
a certain level of trust
in the narrator.
6.4 Simply by virtue of his position as the novel’s
chronicler, Dr. Sheppard is unconsciously
deemed trustworthy by the reader, and
consequently the reader may miss the many
clues Christie includes as to his guilt
throughout the novel. When Sheppard is
ultimately revealed to be the murderer, it is
a stunning revelation, and a powerful lesson
for the reader in the danger of assumptions.
7 The Power
7.1 Intertextually, most of
Christie’s novels focus on
upper-class characters but
feature members of the
serving class in supporting
roles. The Murder of Roger
Ackroyd is no exception, and
indeed, the power of the
divisions between members
of the two classes is palpable.
7.1.1 E.g. Ursula Bourne's romance with
and marriage to Ralph Paton has to be
kept a secret because of her position
as a member of the serving class.
Paton is worried that if his uncle were
to find out that he married a servant
with no money, he would be furious,
and thus, he persuades Ursula to keep
the marriage a secret.
22.214.171.124 This secret winds up
causing much trouble
and adding much
confusion to the
mystery of Ackroyd’s
death, a nod to the
incredible power of
class divisions within
the world of the novel.