The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Themes and Colors
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Law vs. Ethics Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Halfway through Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Hercule Poirot—the Belgian detective who’s been convinced to investigate the titular crime—tells the suspects, “Every one of you in this room is concealing something from me.” Poirot’s claim is arguably the single most important sentence in the book, summing up Christie’s belief that everyone—even nice, ordinary-seeming people—has a dark secret, and, furthermore, that everyone, under the right circumstances, is capable of committing a crime.

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd doesn’t just show that everybody has something to hide—it also suggests that, with a little intelligent detective work, people’s secrets inevitably will be revealed. Through the character of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective who appears in dozens of other Christie mysteries, Roger Ackroyd shows how an intelligent, rational person can use their “little grey cells” to solve even the most challenging of mysteries. Furthermore, Christie shows how…

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Over the course of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie draws an important distinction between the law—symbolized by Inspector Raglan, who is duty-bound to investigate Roger Ackroyd’s murder and prosecute the killer in court—and ethics, symbolized by Hercule Poirot.

From the beginning, Christie shows that Poirot marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s motivated by a personal, philosophical interest in the case of Roger’s murder (see Detection theme)…

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Like many mystery novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is set in a small, isolated community—the English village of King’s Abbot—where everybody knows everybody else, and where the whole community knows when there’s someone new in town. One of the most important features of small-town English life, as Christie depicts it, is the powerful force of gossip—the information (sometimes true, sometimes not) that gets passed from person to person in a small town. And it…

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