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Ten people and one murderer on an isolated island. This is a situation that all of us have never been in, but one that the characters in Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None face. Throughout the book the characters are presented with unexpected murders, and the lingering suspicion that any one of them could be the murderer. They live in fear of each other, and their actions convey that well. The characters in And Then There Were None represent mankind’s strengths and weaknesses by basing their actions off their instincts.
Vera Claythorne was one of the primary characters in the book. She was resourceful, intelligent, and also the last character to die. Her wits are part of the reason she was alive for so long. Throughout the story, Vera always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in the process of figuring out who is behind these murders and how everyone is involved. Even though her mind is one of her greatest assets, it is also one of her most fatal flaws. Her mind was not emotionally stable. During the story, we see instances where she gets hysterical very easily and dreams about the murders. Both of these characteristics are attributed to instincts because near the end of the story, Vera’s instincts and fear take over completely. She was so scared and afraid that instead of using her brains to figure out if Lombard was the killer, she just shot him out of pure instinctAnother example of acting on instinct is Justice Wargrave. Justice Wargrave had a peculiar trait that made him have sadistic delight in seeing or causing death. The text stated, “ From an early age I knew very strongly the lust to kill. ” (Page 285).
This shows that even from an early age, Wargrave knew he had a strong instinct that couldn’t be easily repressed. As he grew older, he went into a profession that satisfied a part of his instincts, but not the whole. He ended up taking action to plot and follow through with this murder just to satisfy his need for death. This is a prime example of acting on instinct because if he had actually been thinking with a clear mind and no additional feelings, he would’ve realized that this whole scheme was very vile and too theatrical. Philip Lombard had a reputation for being obstinate. He was stubborn, impulsive, and very intelligent. These strengths definitely played a part in keeping him alive for that long. But the thing that was most unique about him was that he was the most impulsive person out of the ten people. He was very indignant whenever somebody said something about him, so he would often say or do something impulsive afterward.
Lombard was also known for being very blunt. When questioned about the past murder, he admitted it without qualms. But his biggest weakness was his chivalry. His instinct to underestimate women was inevitably what got him killed. This shows that regardless of all his other strengths, his old- fashioned belief is primarily what he acts on. The characters of And Then There Were None represent mankind’s universal strengths and weaknesses by acting on instinct. They prove that no matter what you do, in the end, your instincts will always override your brain and direct you to make a decision. So the next time you’re alone on an island with strange people and a possible murderer, what will you do?
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