The Image Of The Murderer In The Book And Then There Were None

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Agatha Christie, English writer, once said, “Very few of us are what we seem”. Many people do not seem as they portray. People can take the lead in a rough situation and still be the one who made the situation rough. And Then There Were None, is a murder mystery novel written by Agatha Christie where ten strangers are invited stay at a mansion on Indian Island. They are all trapped and one of them is a murderer. All ten guests had been brought together for a specific reason; they had all committed a crime in the past. Judge Wargrave takes the role of the leader of the group, who invites, murders, and punishes those who had committed crimes in the past.

Philip Lombard, William Blore, Vera Claythorne, Dr. Armstrong, Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Anthony “Tony” Marston, Judge Wargrave, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers have all been invited to Indian Island as guests or were hired by Mr. Owen to fulfill their specific jobs. After all the guests had successfully arrived safely at the island, the host, Mr. Owen, who was expected to arrive the next day, had been missing. After dinner, the guest had began talking together, until suddenly, an inhuman voice comes from the gramophone accusing each person on the island with a specific crime they had committed in the past. Comparing the notes they had received, everyone came to the conclusion that none of them actually know who Mr. Owen is, “I haven’t seen Mrs. Owen—not yet. We only came here two days ago” (21). Anthony “Tony” Marston, chokes on his whiskey that had been poisoned and dies. Spooked, the group retreats to their rooms and almost everyone had been consumed with guilt and memories of their murder. The next morning, Mrs. Rogers was found dead due to an overdose of a sedative. Lombard and Dr. Armstrong plan a search for the island in hopes of finding the mysterious Mr. Owen but failed to find him. General Macarthur stays behind and soon dies after from a blow in the back of his head while looking out at the ocean. The next morning, Mr. Rogers was found dead due to sharp object hitting his head. After breakfast, Emily Brent was found dead due to her neck being injected with poison. Wargrave decides to team up with Dr. Armstrong to fake his death to spy on the murder. However, Dr. Armstrong was tricked by Wargrave and got pushed into the ocean and drowned. Blore is killed when a marble statue is pushed out of a window, crushing him. Vera is convinced that Lombard is the murder and shoots him before hanging herself after returning to her room with a noose waiting for her.

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Behind all these deaths was Judge Wargrave himself. Wargrave was filled with desire to commit murder at an early age as well as enforcing justice, “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. But side by side with this went a contradictory trait—a strong sense of justice” (194). He only wanted to punish those who were guilty of a crime, “It is abhorrent to me that an innocent person or creature should suffer or die by any act of mine”(194). When he learned about those who got away with murder, he decided to lure them into the island. He chooses Philip Lombard and Anthony “Tony” Marston because he believed that those who did not feel any guilt for taking lives of others were dangerous, “His complete callousness and inability to feel any responsibility for the lives he had taken made him, I considered, a type dangerous to the community and unfit to live” (197). He chooses Vera Claythorn because she drowned a child for her own selfish reasons, “You see, she did it more or less for me…”(198). He chooses Dr. Armstrong as he operated on a patient while he was intoxicated, killing her. After hearing gossip about General Macarthur, he starts to track him. Emily Brent was chosen for the death of her servant who was fired because of her pregnancy. Tomas and Ethel Rogers were chosen because of letting their former employer die

Wargrave also chooses carefully for those who dies first and how they die—as he wanted to stay true to the nursery rhyme, “The order of death upon the island had been subjected by me to special thought and care”(199), “Those whose guilt was the lightest should, I decided, pass out first, and not duffer the prolonged mental strain and fear that the more cold-blooded offenders were to suffer”(199) . He chose to follow a children’s poem that corresponded with each person’s death, “A childish rhyme of my infancy came back into my mind—the rhyme of the ten little Indian boys”(196). Marston dies first instantly by poison and Mrs. Rogers dies second, during her slumber, “Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight” (22). They were the first two to die because Wargrave knew that Marston had no morals and Mrs. Rogers was dominated by her husband, “Marston, I recognized, was a type born without that feeling of moral responsibility which most of us have… Mrs. Rogers, I had no doubt, had acted very largely under the influence of her husband” (199). General Macarthur died a painless death when he was approached unknowingly from behind and took a blow to the head, “Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven”(22). Mr. Rogers was killed by an axe to his head, “Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six”(22). Wargrave slips chloral into Emily Brent’s coffee and was found nearly unconscious in the dining room. Wargrave then uses this opportunity to inject her neck with cyanide, “Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five”(22). After Wargrave tricks Dr. Armstrong thinking that he would be an ally, he pushes Armstrong into the ocean where he drowned, “Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three”(22). Blore was killed when Wargrave pushes a marble statue out of a second-story window onto him, “Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two”(22).Then, only Vera and Lombard were left. Vera thinking that Lombard was the killer, stole the gun from him and shot him, “Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one”(22) Wargrave sets up a noose in Vera’s room, testing out a psychological experiment, seeing if Vera would hang herself after being conscious of her own guilt. She ends up hanging herself to match with the poem, “One little Indian boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none”(22).

In the end, we come to realize that Wargrave wanted to make sure the guilty were punished for but not before torturing those who felt the most guilt mentally. We also come to realize that Wargrave is sadistic but wants to enforce acts of justice. He never shows pity for the victims as he messes with them and kills them to match the poem, “Ten Little Indians”.

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The Image Of The Murderer In The Book And Then There Were None [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 20 [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-image-of-the-murderer-in-the-book-and-then-there-were-none/
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