Murder On The Orient ExpressThis print version free essay Murder On The Orient Express.
Autor: reviewessays 06 March 2011
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Murder on the Orient Express
Hercule Poirot, private detective and retired Belgian police officer, boards the Taurus Express train to Stamboul (Istanbul). On the train there are two other passengers, Mary Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot. The two act as if they are strangers, but Poirot observes behavior that suggests that they are not. Poirot is suspicious of the couple. The train arrives in Stamboul and Poirot checks in at the Tokatlian Hotel. As soon as Poirot arrives he receives a telegram summoning him back to London. While waiting at the hotel for the next train, Poirot bumps into an old friend, M. Bouc, head of the Wagon Lit. M. Bouc arranges a space for Poirot on the Orient Express. In the dining room of the Tokatlian Hotel, Poirot first spots Ratchett and Hector McQueen eating dinner. Poirot know's that Ratchett is an evil man and he describes him to M. Bouc as an animal.
Detective Poirot then goes and board the Orient Express. He is forced to ride in a second-class cabin because the train is unusually full. Ratchett and Hector McQueen are also aboard the train. Ratchett approaches Poirot and asks if he will work for him, Ratchett tells Poirot he has been receiving threatening letters and that someone is trying to kill him. Poirot refuses the case. M. Bouc has taken the last first class cabin, but arranges to be moved to a separate coach and gives Poirot his space in first class. The first night Poirot sleeps in first class, he observes some strange occurrences. Early in the morning, Poirot is wakened by a cry from Ratchett's compartment next to him. The wagon lit conductor responds knocks on Ratchett's door and a voice from inside responds, "Ce n'est rien. Je me suis trompe" (It is nothing. I am mistaken). Poirot has difficulty sleeping because there is a peculiar silence on the train. Mrs. Hubbard rings her bell and tells the conductor a man is in her room. Poirot rings his bell for water and is informed by the conductor that the train is stuck in a snow bank. Poirot hears a loud thump next door.
The next morning, the train still stopped, M. Bouc informs Poirot that Ratchett has been murdered and the murderer is still aboard the train. Poirot tells M. Bouc he will investigate the case. Poirot first examines Ratchett's body and compartment. Ratchett has twelve stab wounds. The window is left open in Ratchett's compartment, presumably to make the investigators think the murderer escaped out the window, but there are no footprints outside the window in the snow. A handkerchief with the initial "H" is found in the compartment, a pipe cleaner, a round match different from the matches Ratchett used and a charred piece of paper with the name "Armstrong" on it.
The piece of paper with the word Armstrong on it helps Poirot figure out who Ratchett really is and why someone would want to murder him. A few years back, a man named Cassetti kidnapped a three-year old girl, Daisy Armstrong. Cassetti collected a ransom from the wealthy Armstrong family, but killed the child anyways. Poirot concludes that Ratchett is Cassetti.
The interviews start with the Wagon Lit conductor, then Hector McQueen. Poirot knows that McQueen is involved with the case because he knows about the Armstrong note found in Ratchett's compartment, Hector is surprised that Poirot found the note because he thought it had been completely destroyed. He interviews Masterman and then Mrs. Hubbard. Mrs. Hubbard claims that the murderer was in her cabin. All of the passengers give Poirot suitable alibis during their interviews, although a few suspicious elements are brought to light, many passengers observed a woman in a red kimono walking down the hallway the night of the murder, but no one admits they have a red kimono. Mrs. Hubbard tells Poirot she had Greta Ohlsson lock the communicating door between she and Ratchett. Hildegarde Schmidt bumped into a stranger wearing a Wagon Lit jacket.
Poirot checks every passenger's luggage. During the check he notices a few interesting things, the label on Countess Andrenyi's luggage is wet, a Wagon Lit uniform is found in Hildegarde Schmidt's bag and, lastly, the red kimono is found in Poirot's own luggage.
After the luggage check, Poirot, Dr. Constantine and M. Bouc review the facts of the case and develop a list of questions. With the evidence and questions in mind, Poirot sits and thinks about the case. When he surfaces from a somewhat trance-like state, Poirot has discovered the solution to the case. Before he reveals this solution in full, he calls in several people and reveals their true identities. Poirot discovers Countess Andrenyi is Helena Goldenberg, aunt of Daisy Armstrong. She wet her luggage label and obscured her name, in an effort to conceal her identity. Also, Mary Debenham was Daisy's governess, Antonio Foscanelli was the Armstrong's chaffer, Masterman the valet, and Greta Ohlsson was Daisy Armstrong's nurse. Princess Dragomiroff claims her handkerchief from Poirot, the same found in Ratchett's compartment.
Poirot gathers all of the passengers into the dining car and states two possible solutions. The fist solution is that a stranger entered the train at Vincovci and killed Ratchett. The second solution is that all of the passengers aboard the Orient Express were involved with the murder. He argues that twelve of the thirteen passengers, all close to the Armstrong case, killed Ratchett to avenge the murder of Daisy Armstrong. Mrs. Hubbard, revealed as Linda Arden, admits that the second solution is correct. Poirot suggests that M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine tell the police that the first solution is correct to protect the family. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine accept Poirot's suggestion.
Hercule Poirot, a recurring Christie character, has become one of the most famous fictional detectives. Poirot is a retired Belgian police officer turned private detective. As a private detective he tours Europe and the Mid-East solving murder mysteries. Because he is a private detective and has no apparent family, Hercule Poirot has a great deal of freedom. He is independently wealthy and the decisions he makes are not subject to law or otherwise. As exemplified in Murder on The Orient Express, Poirot does not always follow the law,he lets the real murderers go. This novel is one of two Christie books where the murder is let off. While Poirot does not always obey the law, he always abides his conscience and his sense moral law. "Moral Law" is somewhat like religious law or the law of God, it is a general sense of right and wrong that surpasses any man-made written laws. In the case of the Armstrong family, Poirot put moral law first. The private detective is an arbiter of morals, he has the power and the brains to fight evil.
Poirot is moral and intellectual superhero. He is quite clearly smarter than any of the other passengers, especially M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine. In the beginning of Section three, Christie includes a humorous comparison of the thoughts of the three men. While Poirot sits motionless thinking and concentrating on the case, M. Bouc's thoughts wander to the repair of the train and Dr. Constantine's waver into pornography. Poirot's greatest task as a detective is to be the smartest person around, he must intellectually defeat the murderer. The Armstrongs purposefully attempt to confuse and fool Poirot. They set an elaborate set of clues and misleading evidence to veer him from the truth, but Poirot still wins. From the time he sits down and "thinks" with Dr. Constantine and M. Bouc, Poirot knows the solution of the case is merely a matter of confirming his suspicions. Poirot is a very likable character, despite his moral and intellectual greatness. He is over concerned with appearance, distracted by his moustache and has a liking for strong-willed British women. He is rather short, slightly snobby and probably lonely at times. It is good Christie gives him cases so often.
The Jury system has a rather unusual interpretation in Murder on The Orient Express, at least by Western standards. A self-appointed group of twelve, the same number of people in a jury, convicts Ratchett to death and then murder him. The Jury is a symbol of Justness. The Armstrong family justified killing a man because they gathered twelve people together who through them compiled that Ratchett should die. However, their idea of a jury is nothing like the courtroom jury or jury as the state intended. They like Poirot, did not rely on any sort of law or otherwise to form their "jury." The "Jury" system is simply a consensus, it puts the responsibility of one man's death on the shoulders of many, rather than one. This is what the state does, the state assigns a jury who decides the fate of a man, but there is control over who is selected to be on the jury. If juries were made up of victims family members the jury would certainly be biased. However, we cannot know for sure that Ratchett did not commit the crime. The novel states that Ratchett, or Cassetti, "gave the law the slip," but he may not have been the man who murdered Daisy Armstrong. The novel constantly questions what a jury is and how "just," this system of justice is, especially when a jury is self-appointed. The final argument of the novel, consistent with Poirot and all the characters is that Ratchett's murder was "just." The jury they formed, and the consensus of twelve, was right and fair.
Ratchett escapes justice in the United States, the Armstrong family is determined to kill him and prevent him from hurting any more children. One of the main themes of the novel is the morality of murder,is it all right to kill a man, even if law has acquitted him? Is it ever all right to kill a man? The novel suggests, at least by Poirot and the passenger's standards, that murder is Ok under the right circumstances. If the crime is hideous, there are twelve people who agree that a person is truly guilty and that person is still on the loose, and therefore it is fine to kill him. There are obvious emotional costs, most of the servants are in tears throughout the novel, but, overall, the Armstrongs are successful and probably will not receive punishment for their crime.
Ratchett becomes the symbol of pure evil in the novel. From the minute Poirot sees Ratchett in the hotel restaurant, he knows that he is a bad man. Poirot describes Ratchett as a "wild animal" and tells M. Bouc that when Ratchett passed "he could not rid himself of the evil that had passed me by very close." To the Armstrongs, Ratchett is evil as well. In the evidence gathering stage, when Poirot tells each of them about the crime and Ratchett's involvement, all of the passengers are outraged. The name Ratchett becomes synonymous with evil and terror. The close association of Ratchett and evil is purposeful, and the Author wants the reader to have no sympathy for this man.
Daisy Armstrong is symbolic of goodness and innocence. The three-year-old child, kidnapped and brutally murdered by an evil man for money, is the picture of purity. When each of the passengers speaks of the Armstrong case or specifically of Daisy, they can hardly contain their grief and anger that such a young, perfect life was taken. It is the duty of the Armstrong family to defend the good and murder evil, and it is their duty to defend Daisy and other young children like her by killing Ratchett.
"Around us are people, of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages",M. Bouc speaks this quote, found in Chapter 3. The two men, sitting at lunch in the dining car, discuss the diverse community gathered on the train. This quote foreshadows the ending of the novel and acts as a very important clue in the case. When Poirot "sits back and thinks," he realizes that only in America could such a collection of people exist in one place. Knowing that Ratchett murdered Daisy Armstrong and that the murder was probably connected to the Armstrong family, an American family, this idea helps Poirot figure out the identities passengers on board the train. The quote provides foreshadowing not only because it is a major clue, but also because it reveals a possible relationship or origin of the passengers. This quote and conversation gets Poirot's imagination working, he begins to wonder how the passengers might possibly be linked. Poirot even suggests to M. Bouc that the passengers are linked because of something sinister, saying, "perhaps, all these here are linked together-by death." The quote also reveals the peculiar situation of the Armstrong family, they have come together for three days to seek revenge, will part in London and possibly not see each other again.
The setting is first aboard a train headed to Stamboul, then Stamboul and then on a train from Stamboul to London, the Orient Express. This takes place during the winter of 1925-1933. This novel is a great depiction of a murder mystery, showing that sometimes
a murder can be justified.