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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Transcript of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
"Men have been known to do that-act guilty when they're perfectly innocent." (115)
Poirot delivers this quote in defense of Ralph Patton. Although many clues point to him as the prime suspect Poirot makes sure not to draw any conclusions before he is sure that Ralph is guilty. This is what separates Poirot from the average man and police force he thinks with his gray cells and goes the extra mile. This quote shows Poirot’s dedication to justice, it is that dedication that proves to be the demise of James Sheppard.
“After all, Caroline was bound to hear sooner or later. She might as well hear it from me”. (4).
This quote is referring to James releasing information regarding the death of Mrs. Ferrars to his sister Caroline. Although he claims that Caroline is the one consumed in gossip he passes along this information to her, a hypercritical decision and one that proves that he enjoyed discussing such things with his sister. Throughout the novel, James and his sister are consumed by the case and it is always the topic of discussion. He knew he had to protect his identity for his sister’s sake, because she was bound to find out that her brother was the murderer. Since the two had such a strong relationship it would surely crush her. This quote explains his rationale for accepting Poirot’s offer.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
Detective Story Decalogue
1. Although the criminal Dr. James Sheppard was mentioned from the start of the story, the novel contradicts the Decalogue because he is the narrator.
2. The novel follows this commandment because magic or supernatural causes were never considered in the case.
3. The novel follows this commandment, as the only locked room is Mr. Ackroyd’s office.
4. The novel follows this commandment, as no special science explanation was needed to explain the murder.
5. The novel follows this commandment, as no Chinamen figured into the story.
6. The novel follows this commandment, as Poirot only refers to hard evidence to solve the case.
7. The novel follows this commandment, as Poirot did not commit the crime.
8. The novel follows this commandment because but the evidence was always apparent and available although Poirot didn’t release his conclusions until the end.
9. The novel for the most part follows this commandment as most of his thoughts are laid out because he is the narrator, although Poirot fools him I would not consider Sheppard to be less intelligent than the average reader.
10. The novel follows this commandment as no twins nor doubles appeared.
Summary of the Novel
There are two wealthy and talked about people in the small English town of King’s Abbot, Mrs. Ferrars and Mr. Roger Ackroyd. Mrs. Ferrars a victim of blackmail commits suicide because she can no longer live with the guilt of murdering her own husband. Within days Roger Ackroyd is murdered in his own home. The community is in an uproar but the police can’t handle such a case. Luckily the retired detective Hercule Poirot is willing to take it on. Dr. James Shepard acts as Poirot’s Watson assisting him throughout the case. Immediately every one present at Fernly Park becomes a suspect, the list ranging from family members to servants. All signs point to Ralph Paton, stepson of Mr. Ackroyd whose footprints were found outside the window of entrance. Ralph’s motive for money was clear. As the case goes on Poirot uncovers what each suspect was hiding and slowly rules people out. Poirot comes to the conclusion that the murderer was not Ralph Paton as everyone had believed but actually Dr. James Sheppard. He realizes that only Sheppard would have the knowledge to blackmail Mrs. Ferrars because he examined her husband’s death, and of course he had to silence her lover Mr. Ackroyd afterwards. Poirot supports his conclusion with clues incriminating Sheppard, James could take Ralph’s shoes to frame him and even more importantly he discovered that James had a patient on a liner make the infamous call. Poirot offered James a deal in which he would complete his manuscript of the case including everything and kill himself before Poirot turns him into the police, so Shepard's sister Caroline wouldn’t have to live knowing that her brother was a murderer. Sheppard accepted the offer.
“Everyone concerned in them has something to hide.” (85)
This quote comes about when Poirot is examining Parker, he tells an anxious Sheppard that in these cases everyone has something to hide. This is very true and makes the case difficult and convoluted. With so many suspects withholding important information it is easy for a detective to be thrown, luckily Poirot isn’t just any detective.
“I played Watson to his Sherlock.” (163)
Dr. James Sheppard delivers this quote that sums up his interaction with Poirot for a good part of the novel. He fulfills the sidekick role his old buddy Hastings once held. He is Poirot's right hand man for a while assisting him with anything he requested. This dynamic however did lead to Sheppard’s incrimination, because he knew everything there was to know about him.
“But I wish Hercule Poirot had never retired from work and came here to grow vegetable marrows. “ (286)
James Sheppard delivers this quote after all is said and done, and Poirot has proven him guilty. It goes to show that he respects Poirot’s talents and to an extent acknowledges that it was Poirot’s skills that put him away. The sidekick who thought he was hiding so much, was actually read like an open book.
Christie’s, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" was an interesting read. Like in many of the other detective novels I enjoyed weeding out possible suspects with Poirot as the case developed. Unfortunately I saw the red herring that was Ralph Paton coming. It was far too obvious for it to be true, all the clues pointed to him. Certainly I thought that the real murderer would still be a developed character, so I was suspicious of Sheppard throughout. The most intriguing aspect of the novel for me was the fact that again, like in, "The Murder on the Orient Express" Poirot took the law into his own hands. I was pleasantly surprised to see someone who represents stern law and order bend the rules because he operated with a strong moral compass. He didn’t leave it up to the police to decide his fate, he told James to do the most honorable thing possible which in his case was suicide. I did find it odd that Shepard went through with it, after all the clues would lead to him and his death would most likely appear as a suicide, I don’t know how much grief he actually spared Caroline.
The Dictaphone is mentioned briefly in the novel early on when Ackroyd is met by a Dictaphone salesman. The Dictaphone played an important role in the novel, because Sheppard used it to try to trick Poirot into miscalculating the time of death which would incriminate others.
The Dictaphone is a mass marketed voice recording machine. The machine found its roots in Thomas Edison's phonograph (the 1st sound recording device.) It was commonly used to record speeches for later translation. It was popular amongst journalist and business men. Although it was created by Alexander Bell in 1866 it wasn't until 1907 however that the Columbia Graphophone Company trademarked the Dictaphone. Many companies arose battling one another to try to sell their competing voice recording machines. The "Dictaphone" company however was the only voice recording firm that had any staying power outlasting its competitors in the 1950s until they stood alone.