Critical Analysis Of The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd

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. Christie’s detective world is very much a product of the post World War I ‘modernist’ cynicism which also rendered in humans, a sense of introspection. As Poirot says, “It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within, not without.” The focus on the interiority of self can also be related with Freudian psychoanalysis as a way of gaining access to a complex, inner self. Confession, therefore, that relies solely on the inner being or the interiority of the mind, can be termed very much a modernist mode. The one Poirot novel that most blatantly plays with our belief in the reliability of the confessed narratives is Christie’s infamous The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Set in the peaceful village of King’s…show more content…
H. Auden, in an essay The Guilty Vicarage, describes how the detective novels depict not just one guilty criminal, but, by putting the of suspicion on each and every member of the closed society, marks each and every member as such. The detective, by identifying the criminal and purging them from the society absolves the guilt of the entire society. According to Auden, the detective absolves not just the suspects of their guilt, but provides the same absolution/salvation to the readers of detective fiction also. Auden thus, points out some of the more unwitting functions of detective fiction, that is, to work as a literary embodiment of a mechanism which assumes everybody to be guilty and thereby the need of subjecting all to confession. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, once the confessions from all major characters is extracted, the most significant of all confessions still remains -- that of the murderer. All characters are accused and redeemed of guilt but the murderer is still elusive. Much to the shock of the readers of detective fiction of that time, it turns out that the murderer is the Watson figure, and the narrator, the one person on whose first-person account the reader 's’ entire access to all events depends -- Dr. Sheppard. In a novel that reiterates the significance of confession to unearth the truth, Christie throws the veracity of all confessions contained therein in danger by depicting how easily the readers can be taken in by…show more content…
Poirot then, suggests that instead of taking the case to the police, Sheppard take his own life, saying, “The truth goes to Inspector Raglan in the morning. But for the sake of your good sister, I am willing to give you the chance of another way out. There might be, for instance, an overdose of a sleeping draught. You comprehend me?” This is quite an uncomfortable scenario as the detective not only names the criminal and the crime, but also administers the punishment by himself which also serves the purpose of maintaining his own status as sole knower of the privileged information, wherein we watch him playing a direct part in the punishment of the sinner. The fact that Poirot is a much more obvious source of power in the closed societies in which he operates, and the way he repeatedly draws our attention to it, betrays his quest to achieve a sovereign-like power. Cases like these, where he not just punishes, but also plays a role in execution point at the close proximity between the pastoral power, for all its stress on salvation, redemption or the well-being of the soul, and the need to exert total control, which is reminiscent of the older forms of
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