On Literary Techniques of Creating Impossible Crime in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None毕业论文
2.1 Impossible crime presented by the background of an isolated island ————— 4
2.1.1 An introduction of “the isolated island mode” and its application —————–4
2.1.2 The functions of the “isolated island”————————————————- 5
18.104.22.168 Its advantages and disadvantages to the murderer———————————-5
22.214.171.124 Creation of an atmosphere of helplessness and isolation————————–6
2.2 Impossible crime unfolded by the plot with an intriguing suspense——————7
2.2.1 Creating a suspense———————————————————————–7
126.96.36.199 Using a nursery rhyme as the thread————————————————–8
188.8.131.52 Adopting flaws and tricks as clues————————————————— 9
2.2.2 Unraveling the suspense—————————————————————-11
184.108.40.206 Cozy mystery and classical mystery————————————————11
220.127.116.11 An unexpected but reasonable ending———————————————-12
2.3 Impossible crime created by the characters of stereotyped personas —————13
2.3.1 The solo murderer————————————————————————13
2.3.2 The multiple victims———————————————————————14
2.3.3 The absent detective———————————————————————15
Works Cited ———————————————————————————— 18
On Literary Techniques of Creating Impossible Crime in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie (September 15, 1890 –– January 12, 1976) was an English crime novelist, dramatist and scriptwriter, once described by Time as “One of the most ingenious thrillers in many a day.” She was born as Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. Her father who home schooled her in mathematics died when Agatha was 11 years old. When she grew up, she became an avid reader and a great fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, especially his Sherlock Holmes mystery stories. Christie served in a hospital during World War I and in that period she developed her skills in writing homicidal poisoning. Meanwhile she began to think about writing her own novel. In 1916, she decided to have a go at it, setting the interruptions of daily life aside, and in just three weeks she managed to crank out her first novel. Her literary career was launched by the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920, featuring the debut of the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot who became the long-running character in many of Christie’s works and one of the most famous fictional detectives of the 20th century along with Miss Jane Marple who first appeared in the collection of short stories The Thirteen Problems in 1927. In 1926, her first husband Archie asked for a divorce and she later found happiness in her marriage in 1930 with Max Mallowan, a young archaeologist who she met on a trip to Mesopotamia. A great many famous works were written after her second marriage. And she died on January 12, 1976 at age 85 from natural causes at her Winterbrook House in the north of Cholsey parish. Agatha Christie is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections which have been translated into at least 103 languages and have sold roughly 2 billion copies. Her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books behind William Shakespeare’s works and the Bible.
The period of the 1920s and 1930s is generally referred to as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. During this period, a number of very popular writers emerged. As one of the three detective titans of the Golden Age and one of the great literary masters of mystery novels, Christie becomes the most popular reasoning novelist. She successfully develops the popular murder mystery format, that is, to gather all clues first and then to set all suspects together and finally uncover the truth. Her mystery novels show the best reasoning level, for instance, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The A.B.C Murders. Christie boasts the longest running play in the world: The Mousetrap, which she originally wrote as a birthday gift for Queen Mary. Christie received numerous honors including the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award (1955) and the order of Dame Commander of the British Empire (1971). In addition, many of Christie’s works have been adapted into films, most notably Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978). Agatha is good at looking into characters through dramatic situations, digging connections between individuals and society, thus giving her works a profound social significance. Her short stories and novels have also been adapted to television and radio programs, and at least one video game (And Then There Were None, 2005).
And Then There Were None (1939) is widely considered as Agatha’s masterpiece and described by her as the most difficult of her books ever written. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939 as Ten Little Niggers, after the British nursery rhyme which serves as a major plot thread. The title was changed to And Then There Were None, the last line of the rhyme, for its first American edition. The title of the song —— Ten Little Indians was used for some editions and was formally approved as the title of the novel when it was published in US. As Christie’s best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, it makes the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. The story is set on an isolated island. The nursery rhyme and the isolated island used by Agatha add certain glamour to the novel And Then There Were None. Ten strangers, invited to an island by a mysterious host, soon find themselves will repay the debt of blood as each of their sins is revealed and these ten people all drop dead, one by one. Who is the murderer? Who is the mastermind? What is the crime of attempt? It is really puzzling. Actually, this novel is a perfect example of impossible crime created by Agatha Christie.
Agatha’s reputation as the “Queen of Crime” was built upon a large number of classic motifs which she introduced, or for which she provided the most famous examples and what is now considered classic mystery structure: a murder is committed, there are multiple suspects who are all concealing secrets, and the detective gradually uncovers these secrets over the course of the story and finally reveals the most shocking twists towards the end. At the end, in an Agatha hallmark, the detective usually gathers the surviving suspects into one room, explains the course of his or her deductive reasoning, and reveals the guilty party. Sometimes, the exceptions left to the guilty parties are explained by the murderer instead of by the detective to make the impossible crime possible such as And Then There Were None. The so-called “impossible crime”, originally for forensic vocabulary, refers to the logically impossible criminal behavior. The study of impossible crime is almost as important as that of reasoning novels. It has been two hundred years since the appearance of mystery novels, and “impossible crime” as the most striking type of mystery always makes the mystery novelists keep on challenging it. The world’s first mystery novel is one which deals with the impossible crime. Every mystery novelist has at least created one work of impossible crime for their dignity and honor, which is the self-esteem of their profession. Impossible crime can also be called “miraculous crime”, that is to say, this novel title of miracles is actually a little play, refers to the challenging puzzles which may bring you the most wonderful and most pleasant reading journey in reasoning. Classic forms of impossible crime mystery mainly includes: locked-room, footprints disappearance, impossible suspect, impossible disappearance and perfect alibi under the particular case as well as other crimes cannot be judged logically. It can be proved that And Then There Were None is a typical impossible crime, which can be summarized into a sentence: The murderer died at last, but the one who died last is not the murderer. It sounds like impossible; however, it is indeed done through some tricks. Whether it is a closed room, or the disappearing man, these are mystery novels’ most appealing elements –– impossible elements constitute a crime.
Owning to Agatha’s popularity, And Then There Were None has already attracted some scholars’ interests, and they have done some studies, which mainly focus on the analysis of the characters, narratology, feminine consciousness and social influences. Besides these aspects, “impossible crime” is also an important element for the study and comprehension of the novel. In this novel, Agatha has employed several literary techniques to create the atmosphere, develop the plot and characterize the protagonists. This thesis aims to demonstrate and dissect Agatha Christie’s manipulation of these literary techniques to create impossible crime in And Then There Were None, namely, impossible crime presented by the background of an isolated island, impossible crime unfolded by the plot with an intriguing suspense and impossible crime created by the characters of stereotyped personas. With just a few and not very comprehensive researches both at home and abroad in this field, this study is innovative.