Agatha Christie examines the psychology of the island’s guests, as each deteriorates under the pressure of guilt and grave danger. At first, the guests hide their guilt not only from others but also from themselves. This is possible because their crimes are perceived as accidental and unintentional; a number are also passive-aggressive. Vera Claythorne, General MacArthur, Mr. Blore, Emily Brent, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, and Philip Lombard all deny any active agency in the deaths they are said to have caused. Instead, each could be said to have betrayed a trust by failing to act. For instance, Vera failed to stop the boy she looked after from swimming too far from shore; Mr. and Mrs. Rogers withheld needed medication; Emily Brent failed to demonstrate compassion for her maidservant; Mr. Blore and General Macarthur hid their crime under the rubric of duty.
While these characters maintain a show of innocence, however, their guilt emerges less consciously, through dreams or memories that undermine their self-assurance and certainty. Thoughts of their victims trouble a number of the guests. Emily feels haunted by the spirit of her servant; for Vera, the smell of the sea seems to summon the spirit of the drowned boy. These episodes point to the way in which guilt, even if denied by the rational faculties, can make its presence felt in other ways. Vera is tormented by her unbidden fantasies and memories to such an extent that she is no longer in her right mind by novel’s end. She readily cooperates with the suggestion of the nursery rhyme, hanging herself on the noose the judge has provided.
Related to the psychology of the guilty is the theme of exposure. The isolated island mansion is modern, flooded with light, indicating a venue in which all will be revealed. Each guest exposes a side far from rational and decent. Bestial metaphors suggest that, under duress, each has reverted to a primitive law of the jungle, participating in a war of all against all. This disturbing Darwinist vision is first articulated by Philip Lombard as a justification for his crime, but as the characters are reduced to their instincts for...
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'And Then There Were None' Essay Writing Ideas
When you are trying to find an essay topic regarding a work of literature, like a novel, It is important to think about the plot and themes of what you have read. And Then There Were None is a mystery novel created by Agatha Christie in 1939. It was her best-selling novel, and has been read millions of times by readers all over the world since its first publication. The plot of the story involves eight strangers, and one couple who are lured to an island under one of two false pretenses. Some of the strangers will be lured with the idea that a long lost friend is inviting them, while others think they are responding to a job offer. In each of their rooms, is a poem about ten little Indian boys who die in unusual ways. At dinner on that first night, one of the guests is poisoned, exactly as one of the Indian boys in the poem. One by one each of these guests, strangers to one another, dies in the same way as one of the little Indian boys in the poem. Until, as the title suggests, “And Then There Were None. To help you get started with your essay here are some topic ideas:
- What does the character of Mr. Wargrave represent? Think about what his character symbolizes through his action and how the writer portrays him. Focusing on one or more of the main characters for an essay is a great way to show your understanding of the novel. With this approach you would be analyzing the different personalities of the characters, what the characters represent, how the characters reflect the overall theme of the novel, as well as comparing and contrasting the characters with one another.
- Discuss the use of violence in the novel. Think about the deaths of the boys in the poem, about the murders each of the guests are accused of committing, and think about the events leading up to each of their deaths. What is the message the behind so much violence and death? What does it represent in the overall theme of the novel?
- Discuss how Agatha Christie uses the weather in her novel to symbolize the disorder and chaos occurring within the story.
- What role does the poem about the “ten little Indians” play? Why does the murderer choose to follow the poem? Why is it so important?
- Why does the author make it so hard for us to figure out who the murderer is by ourselves? How does the strange plot affect your opinions about it, as a reader?
- Talk about the order of the characters deaths. Why did some characters live longer than the others?
These are only some of the things you can focus on for your essay. Just remember to think about the themes of this novel, and its relation to the characters. It helps if you read the novel more than once, taking notes at you look at it a second time. The notes can help you to remember key points within the novel, and give you some idea of what direction you might want to take for your essay topic.
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