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Ian Nelson


English A1

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a 1926 mystery novel by the Duchess of Death, Mrs. Agatha Christie, entails a man named Dr. Sheppard, a simple doctor in the town of King‟s Abbott in early-20th century England. The murder of a townsperson, Mrs. Ferrars, arises suspicion in this small town. What‟s even stranger is a Belgian, named “M. Porrot”, supposedly here to farm marrows, moves in next door to Sheppard. But a quarter past nine, three days later, another man is killed – Roger Ackroyd, purveyor of Fernly Mansion – and M. Porrot reveals himself as Monsieur Hercule Poirot, a world-famous detective and mystery-solver. The book was regarded as one of the first books to include a major plot twist twice. Multiple characters, such as the Mrs. Ackroyd, a party attendees Major Blunt and Geoffrey Raymond, and the fleeing dipsomaniac Ralph Paton. At the end, the book surprises you extremely by revealing that actually, Dr. Sheppard himself committed both crimes. This leads to the last chapter, titled Apologia, indicates Sheppard killed himself after Poirot found out the truth. The book is a great example of early-century lawyers, acting more in the field than on the podium; but that got me thinking. If a modern defense lawyer was put into The Murder, it is a question of “what would happen”. A character with the role of defense attorney would have changed the plot and story of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. An example could be certain scenes in The Murder would be changed with the addition of a character with the job of defense attorney. The interrogation scenes, most about halfway through the novel, would have taken a more legal tone; given those accused would want to be protected by attorneys. The characters that had lawyers would use them, because anyone could be the murderer. Parker, the butler of Mister Ackroyd, would use his master‟s lawyer under inheritance, if he chose to be protected by the law. If he did not inherit the

lawyer and was still nervous when he was interrogated in chapter 18, the scene would not have changed substantially. The climax, in which Poirot proclaims Sheppard guilty, would have gone on longer if Sheppard had a lawyer, because Sheppard, no matter how defensive he already was, would be more so had he had a lawyer to defend him as well. Sheppard could have had a lawyer because he was a doctor, which leads us to character professions and the character of defense attorney. Depending on characters‟ specific professions, the characters in Ackroyd would have had a lawyer due to their salary or specific actions. Dr. Sheppard, Major Blunt, Geoffrey Raymond, and Parker all, according to their jobs, would have made salary enough to buy a defense lawyer in court, and invest in safety from the law, because of the circumstances they were in. Caroline, Flora, Mrs. Ackroyd, and some of the other characters may have had a defense lawyer, but it is not quite certain; because, as the ladies of the house, they had specific privileges. It is quite obvious that Sheppard, already a rich man due to his salary, would have bought a defense lawyer and insurance in court, provided the opportunity, with the money from Mrs. Ferrars‟ killing; he knew that eventually, he would be caught, and he would have to use the lawyer and insurance. This is backed up by Poirot saying Sheppard wanted „safety‟ by killing Mrs. Ferrars and Mr. Ackroyd. As well as defense lawyers being affected by the characters, defense lawyers would also affect the investigation. As well as defending them in court, defense lawyers would protect the innocent in the investigation scenes of The Murder. Poirot would be assisted by the lawyers in finding Paton innocent; it seems Poirot acted as an attorney himself, thinking Paton innocent even with the whole case black against him. Clues would be evaluated by defense lawyers to see what they were, who used them, and how they can protect the innocent. An example could be the note in

the summerhouse; attorneys would try to find motives for Geoffrey Raymond to do it, and if they found none, then they were defending the innocent. Charles Kent is one of the most obvious characters to have a lawyer, because of the amount of blame and trouble he was put in. The role of defense lawyer would change the story of The Murder to have a more legal tone, although the character was simulated by Poirot in more ways than one. An inclusion of a modern defense lawyer may have changed the book The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, though some of the characters defend the innocent. If the character was in the book, it would be confusing, because then there would be too many people defended and too little that were fought against.