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Agatha Christie And Then There Were None English Literature Essay

Agatha Christie was born on September 15th, 1890 in Torquay, England. Her name at birth was Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, and her parents were Clarissa Boehmer of Belfast, Ireland and Frederick Miller, an American. Agatha was the youngest of three children, and grew up very alone because of the age gap of over ten years between her siblings.

Her father passed away when she was only eleven years old, leaving her to grow up with her mother’s care. In 1906 Agatha traveled to Paris where she studied singing and piano (Www.sfu.ca). She didn’t discover her talent for writing until she was older.

Years later on Christmas Eve (Www.sfu.ca) 1914, the Miller girl became Agatha Christie after marrying war Captain Archibald Christie. The two became parents in 1919 when they had their daughter, Rosalind. Before then, throughout 1914 to 1918, Agatha worked as a hospital and dispensary nurse during World War I. That was where she developed her vast knowledge involving poisons, drugs and medicines (Www.sfu.ca).

In 1920, Christie published her first book, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”, in America. The book introduced her most famous character, Hercule Poirot, who would later appear in more than forty more books (Winks 12). After the book was published, Agatha wrote five more mysteries (Www.nd.edu) before publishing the novel that began her huge success; “The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd” (Winks 2).

Seven months after the book was published, Agatha disappeared. Suspects claimed that she was murdered, and others believed her missing case was an act for publicity while the nation searched for her (Winks 3). Her whereabouts were discovered ten days after her disappearance when some people found out that she had registered in a local hotel under the name of the women with whom she had found out her husband was cheating with (Winks 3).

In 1928, Agatha and Archibald divorced, which opened up a new door for Agatha’s characters when she developed the now famous Miss Marple. Two years later, after a couple more successful books had been published, she met Max Mallowan in Baghdad. Agatha and the archaeologist were soon married and Christie began to approach her highest point as an author.

In 1930, Agatha Christie began writing and publishing romance novels under the pen name of Mary Westmacott. Robin Winks said, “These noncrime novels are not taken seriously today”. Christie was thought to put into play her feelings toward her ex-husband throughout the Westmacott novels (Winks 18).

After years of fame, Agatha was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1956. She also became President of the Detection Club in 1957 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Exeter University in 1961. Perhaps her most elite recognition was when she was named a Dame of the British Empire by the Queen of England in 1971. Her nickname was in fact the “Queen of Crime”.

On January 12th, 1976, Agatha Christie passed away from old age. The author was only exceeded by Shakespeare and the Bible. Her 1940’s novel “Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple’s Last Case” was published after her death.

Overview and Summary of “And Then There Were None”

First published as “Ten Little Indians” in 1939 (Www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia), “And Then There Were None” was and still is one of Agatha Christie’s most popular works. In fact, it is the world’s most read mystery. The book has sold over one million copies (Www.agathachristie.com) and continues to do so even today.

The book begins by describing most of the main characters by showing how they act on their train ride towards Indian Island. When the guests arrive, they are surprised to find that their host, Mr. Owen, will not be joining them that day. This is the point of the story which gives the audience a sense of foreshadowing of the mystery still yet to come.

The characters of the story all seem to have one thing in common; they have all committed a crime, whether by accident or on purpose no one can say. The guests traveling to Indian Island are Judge Wargrave, Vera Claythorne, Captain Lombard, Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Doctor Armstrong, Anthony Marston, Mister Blore, and amateur detective Fred Narracott. On the island they meet housekeepers Mr. and Mrs. Rogers who generally keep the mansion running smoothly.

The guests soon find a creepy nursery rhyme in the mansion;

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.

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon;

One said he'd stay there and then there were Seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;

One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;

A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law;

One got into Chancery and then there were Four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea;

A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo;

A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.

Two little Indian boys were out in the sun;

One got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went out and hanged himself and then there were none. (Christie 28).

During the next few days, murders (or “accidents”, “suicide”, “deaths by natural causes”, etc.) start occurring. The spookiest part was that each death fell in line (and in order) with the deaths in the poem. Anthony Marston by “choking”, Mrs. Rogers dies while asleep, General Macarthur was killed during a Devon storm, Mr. Rogers by an Ax, Emily Brent with a “bee” sting, Judge Wargrave shot, Dr. Armstrong disappears and found “purple- faced” and dead, Blore with a crushed head, Lombard shot insanely by Vera, and Vera committing suicide by hanging herself.

Amateur detective Fred Narracott, after collecting all the information that seemed possible for him, eventually crossed paths with Sir Legge and Inspector Maine who are both from Scotland Yard. They come to the conclusion that the murder was Judge Wargrave. The judge had killed all the guests as a way to “execute justice” by punishing them for their crimes. The ironic thing is that Wargrave himself was committing multiple crimes himself, and after laying out the noose for Vera to hang herself with, the judge shot himself on his bed.

In general, this popular book focuses on a huge controversy. Is it right to punish crimes that could be accidents, or correct to punish the people by committing a crime yourself? “And Then There Were None” is a great book that focuses on elements of mystery that Agatha Christie uses wonderfully to keep the audience guessing.

Critical Analysis of works; Influences

A lot of experts are still puzzled by the amazing mind of Agatha Christie. Her works continue to dazzle and mystify readers. The question is, did Christie come up with all of her stories on her own, or was she influenced by events in her life. Many people believe that her own experience helped shape many of the plots for her successful books.

Because of the age gap between her and her siblings, Agatha Miller seemed like an only child practically all of her life. Most of her years growing up were spent with her mother who raised her after her father died. Cathy Cook wrote, “Like her mother, Christie had an extremely creative and vivid imagination” (Cook). Many of her book’s plots, settings and characters were very likely influenced by the way she was raised. Some of her childhood wonder never truly left her.

Another big probable influence on Agatha Christie’s works was the time period she lived in. She grew up in England during the Victorian era, and lived naturally among servants, wars, and country (as well as city and holiday location) life. Obviously some behaviors or lifestyles that we today would find strange were quite normal during the late 1800’s. Her works were very much focused on elements that Agatha received from living in that specific society and era.

What I personally believe might have influenced the works of Agatha Christie were her travels and experiences. Christie not only worked as a hospital nurse during World War I, but also in a dispensary. Obviously Agatha received much of her knowledge on poisons and medicines while working there. Also, she traveled often, giving her the opportunity to live among other cultures, people and places that would and did appear in her books (or at least were referred to).

I believe that even more things than I have listed influenced this great author’s works. Some majors ones that I have seen are her childhood, her surrounding society, her travels and her experiences. Although we may never know for sure what inspired Agatha Christie, these elements have appeared to be very important throughout her writings.

Critical Analysis of works; Main Themes

I believe that Agatha Christie’s most obvious main theme featured throughout her works is murder. Murder can be displayed in different ways; what was the murder, who is the murderer, who was murdered, how did the murder occur, etc. The topic of murder has to has the elements of “who, what, where, when, why and how” to be fully understood and explainable. I believe that Christie uses those elements precisely throughout the majority of her works which makes it a main theme of hers.

Another main theme I see throughout Christie’s works is justice. The detectives are the usually the ones who bring justice to the crime, yet sometimes it is the murderer or another character who can do it as well. The main point is that Christie almost always brings her mysteries to an end by making sure that the wrong deeds are punished before the other characters go on living their lives.

One last theme I see in the works of Agatha Christie is betrayal. After all, it is almost a solid rule that in a mystery no one can be trusted. Very often in Agatha’s writings a man or woman will seem suspicious when trying to befriend or be in alliance with another character involved. In the end, the betrayal of that “friend” is unpredictable. I have read many cases of this specific theme.

I truly believe that although Agatha Christie may have similar main themes throughout her many books, each one is different. From murder, justice and betrayal, Christie has continually amazed audiences over and over again. She was smart in using her main themes to fit the plot of each story appropriately.

Critical Analysis of works; Stylistic Devices

Agatha Christie had to have a number of elements mastered in order to become as successful as she became. One of those elements is a major contributor to what made her stand out as an author; her use of stylistic devices. These also made the stories more interesting and caught the audience’s attention.

Something noticeable about Christie’s writing is that she often uses repetition. She often didn’t try to introduce new words or phrases and used what was comfortable (Www.christiemystery.co.uk). Many think that this was so she could easily get to her main points, as they were important in her mysteries.

Christie had also used another stylistic device in a few of her books; rhyming. Agatha was known in some of her works to feature poems, such as “Ten Little Indians” found in “And Then There Were None”. The rhyming was not used as often, but gave a fresh twist to Christie’s writing style.

The last biggest stylistic device most found in Agatha Christie’s works is motifs. Christie’s symbolism is what helps construct her own main ideas. In many of her books, details that she gives about everyday objects symbolize a different idea connect to her writing.

I can honestly say that Agatha Christie would not stand out as a mystery author or any type of author at all, if she didn’t use the stylistic devices the way she did. Her use of repetition, rhyming and motifs helps lead the audience to her story’s main points. Her way of writing is truly unique, which helped make her so successful.

Critical Analysis of works; Characters

One of my favorite things about Agatha Christie’s works is her characters. Agatha not only creates and describes her characters, but gives them life. They are, without a doubt, some of the most intriguing characters I have ever read about.

My favorite character is Christie’s most famous creation; Inspector Hercule Poirot. Agatha describes him as a short Belgian man with an egg-shaped head and a waxy mustache curled on the ends. He appeared in over thirty Agatha Christie books. Towards the end of her career, Agatha became annoyed with Poirot and said “He’s not the kind of private eye you’d hire today” (Smaridge 89). The public was so upset when Christie killed off Poirot in her book “Curtain” that on August 6th, 1975, his obituary was published on the front cover of “The New York Times” (Www.poirot.us).

Agatha Christie’s second most famous character was Miss Marple, an elderly and single woman who solves crime by evaluating human nature. Jane Marple is also described as a gossiper with typical pastimes such as knitting, gardening, bird watching, (Www.poirot.us) etc. What might be most famous about Miss Marple is that her knowledge is said to only be as vast as it is because of her old age.

Agatha Christie created her characters to form her story. Without such detectives the author would have most likely not have been nearly as successful as she was after bringing them into her stories. Her characters of Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot contribute largely to her writing abilities and fame as a whole, and she invented them brilliantly.

Test over Agatha Christie, “And Then There Were None”, and other works

Multiple Choice: Circle the correct answer

1. What year was Agatha Christie Born?

a. 1809 b. 1819 c. 1890 d. 1980

2. During what war did Agatha Christie work in a hospital and dispensary?

a. Civil War b. World War I c. World War II d. Revolutionary War

3. Who was Agatha Christie’s first Husband?

a. Herbert Christie b. Max Mallowan Christie c. Fredrick Christie d. Archibald Christie

4. What was Agatha Christie’s pen name?

a. Mary Westmacott b. Agatha Miller c. Agatha Mallowan d. None

5. Which Agatha Christie character’s obituary was published in “The New York Times”?

a. Miss Marple b. Fred Narracott c. Hercule Poirot d. None

6. Which of these was NOT a big influence on Agatha Christie’s writing?

a. Pets b. Childhood c. Society d. Travels

7. In what book did Agatha Christie kill off Hercule Poirot?

a. “And Then There Were None” b.”Evil Under The Sun” c. “Curtain” d. None

8. During what time period (or era) was Agatha Christie born?

a. Anglo- Saxon b. Victorian c. Medieval d. Roman

9. “Ten Little Indians” uses what stylistic device?

a. Onomatopoeia b. Simile c. Analogy d. Rhyming

10. Which single author exceeded Agatha Christie after the Bible?

a. Shakespeare b. Jane Austen c. Dr. Seuss d. C.S. Lewis

11. Which of these can be classified as a main theme often used by Agatha Christie?

a. Food b. Betrayal c. Friendship d. Religion

12. Who was the murderer in “And Then There Were None”?

a. No one was the murderer b. Narracott c. Judge Wargrave d. Vera

13. What was Miss Marple known as?

a. A thief b. A saint c. A hermit d. A gossiper

14. What was the name of the owner of Indian Island?

a. Mr. Owen b. Mr. Rogers c. Mr. Narracott d. Mrs. Rogers

15. Where did Agatha Christie meet Max Mallowan?

a. Iraq b. Turkey c. Italy d. France

16. Who hung themselves in “And Then There Were None”?

a. Emily Brent b. Mrs. Rogers c. Vera Claythorn d. None of these

17. What did Agatha Christie study in Paris?

a. Writing b. Match Making c. Theatre d. Singing and Piano

18. How old was Agatha Christie when her father passed away?

a. 2 b. 11 c. 15 d. Not yet born

19. Agatha Christie Disappeared how many months after “The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd” was published?

a. 9 b. 6 c. 3 d.7

20. Where was Hercule Poirot from?

a. Belgium b. Scotland c. Ireland d. America

Fill in the blank: Write in the correct word

1. Agatha Christie’s Maiden name is ____________.

2. Cathy Cook wrote, “Like her mother, Christie had an extremely creative and vivid _________________”.

3. Miss Marple enjoys pastimes such as knitting, gardening and ___________________.

4. “One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went out and ___________ himself and then there were none.”

5. Judge Wargrave shot himself while on his _________.

6. Inspector Maine belonged to ______________ ________.

7. “And Then There Were None” was first publish as “________ ___________ __________” in 1939.

8. Hercule Poirot was featured in over _______ of Agatha Christie’s stories.

9. Max Mallowan had a career as an ____________________________.

10. Agatha Christie had one daughter named ________________.

Essay: Compose a five paragraph explanation on how Agatha Christie’s life played a role in her stories, mysteries and other works.

Test Answer Key

Multiple Choice: Circle the correct answer

1. What year was Agatha Christie Born?

c. 1890

2. During what war did Agatha Christie work in a hospital and dispensary?

b. World War I

3. Who was Agatha Christie’s first Husband?

d. Archibald Christie

4. What was Agatha Christie’s pen name?

a. Mary Westmacott

5. Which Agatha Christie character’s obituary was published in “The New York Times”?

c. Hercule Poirot

6. Which of these was NOT a big influence on Agatha Christie’s writing?

a. Pets

7. In what book did Agatha Christie kill off Hercule Poirot?

c. “Curtain”

8. During what time period (or era) was Agatha Christie born?

b. Victorian

9. “Ten Little Indians” uses what stylistic device?

d. Rhyming

10. Which single author exceeded Agatha Christie after the Bible?

a. Shakespeare

11. Which of these can be classified as a main theme often used by Agatha Christie?

b. Betrayal

12. Who was the murderer in “And Then There Were None”?

c. Judge Wargrave

13. What was Miss Marple known as?

d. A gossiper

14. What was the name of the owner of Indian Island?

a. Mr. Owen

15. Where did Agatha Christie meet Max Mallowan?

a. Iraq

16. Who hung themselves in “And Then There Were None”?

c. Vera Claythorn

17. What did Agatha Christie study in Paris?

d. Singing and Piano

18. How old was Agatha Christie when her father passed away?

b. 11

19. Agatha Christie Disappeared how many months after “The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd” was published?

d.7

20. Where was Hercule Poirot from?

a. Belgium

Fill in the blank: Write in the correct word

1. Agatha Christie’s Maiden name is Miller.

2. Cathy Cook wrote, “Like her mother, Christie had an extremely creative and vivid imagination”.

3. Miss Marple enjoys pastimes such as knitting, gardening and bird-watching.

4. “One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”

5. Judge Wargrave shot himself while on his bed.

6. Inspector Maine belonged to Scotland Yard.

7. “And Then There Were None” was first publish as “Ten Little Indians” in 1939.

8. Hercule Poirot was featured in over 30 of Agatha Christie’s stories.

9. Max Mallowan had a career as an archeologist.

10. Agatha Christie had one daughter named Rosalind.

Essay: Compose a five paragraph explanation on how Agatha Christie’s life played a role in her stories, mysteries and other works.

Must include five well structured and grammatically correct paragraphs (Intro, 3 Body, Conclusion) featuring at least three different connections between the life of Agatha Christie to her works.

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