Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile


Agatha Christie

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Themes and Colors
Justice Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Selfishness and Generosity Theme Icon
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Death on the Nile, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


Unlike some mystery novels that focus on a single incident, in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile almost every character could be implicated in some sort of crime. Some of these crimes—like Tim Allerton’s jewelry thievery with his cousin Joanna, Miss Van Schuyler’s kleptomania, or Signor Richetti’s politically motivated murders—are only tangentially related to the central mystery: the murder of Linnet Doyle. Hercule Poirot (with some help from Colonel Race

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Deception and Genre Expectations

While Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is a classic example of a detective novel, in many ways it also subverts expectations about the genre. This is because the detective, Hercule Poirot, is not only an expert investigator but also an expert on detective fiction. Many aspects of the novel follow the conventions of a detective novel, where realism is less important than weaving a compelling mystery. There are elaborately planned crimes, an improbably…

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Like many of her other novels, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is a story that focuses almost exclusively on middle- to upper-class characters, including some of the wealthiest people in the world. Though mentioned on the periphery, characters like the employees of the Nile steamer boat the Karnak or the local residents of Egypt and Nubia are seldom named or given significant roles. One of the few supposedly working-class characters, who goes by the…

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Romantic Love

Throughout Death on the Nile, Christie explores the theme of romantic love through the lens of several different relationships. In addition to Jacqueline and Simon, the secret lovers who orchestrate the crime at the center of the story, there is also Simon and Linnet; Rosalie and Tim; and the triangle involving Cornelia, Dr. Bessner, and Ferguson. Some of Christie’s portrayals of love are cynical—after all, Poirot describes the…

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Selfishness and Generosity

Death on the Nile is a novel in which the villains are undone by their own greed. It is also a novel in which many characters, including its protagonist, Hercule Poirot, act for no reason other than the general benefit of humanity. Many characters have elements of both traits: they are generous in some ways but selfish in others. Some, like Linnet Doyle, even find a way to mix the two, turning generosity…

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National Identity and International Connections

As with many Agatha Christie novels, the characters in Death on the Nile come from a variety of backgrounds, and many have personalities shaped by their backgrounds. From the careful, reserved Englishman James Fanthorp to the fiery Italian Signor Richetti, each character embodies characteristics (or, in some cases, stereotypes) of their home country. The Karnak—the steamer boat that they all take up the Nile—becomes both a melting pot, where these characters from…

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