Dr. Armstrong Mystery in Agatha Christie's and then There Were None

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 924 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 924|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The First Impression
  2. Backstory and Personality
  3. The Dr Armstrong Mystery
  4. Themes and Commentary

Agatha Christie's classic whodunit "And Then There Were None" presents an intricate and thrilling puzzle that not only keeps readers guessing until the end, but also offers insights into human nature, justice and morality. The character of Dr Armstrong, a retired physician and an alcoholic, plays a key role in the plot and the themes of the novel, as he struggles with his past, his doubts and his place in the deadly game that unfolds on Soldier Island. By analyzing his character development, his actions and his interactions with the other characters, we can gain a deeper understanding of the mystery, as well as of the issues that Christie raises about guilt, redemption and the limits of crime and punishment.

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The First Impression

The first impression we get of Dr Armstrong is not very flattering. He is depicted as a portly and nervous man, prone to sweating and stumbling over his words. He also seems to be struggling with a drinking problem, as he drinks sherry before dinner, tries to snatch a bottle from the pantry and gets drunk after the first murder. However, as we learn more about his backstory and his personality, we start to empathize with his predicament and appreciate his virtues.

Backstory and Personality

Dr Armstrong's backstory reveals that he was once a successful and respected physician, but that he lost his license and his reputation after a patient died under his care while he was drunk. He then retreated to Devon, where he became the doctor of the rich and famous, but also the victim of their gossip and cynicism. This explains his guilt, shame and depression, as well as his craving for alcohol and his sense of detachment from society. Moreover, it foreshadows his role in the plot, as a suspect and an ally of the murderer, and his eventual redemption, as he proves his worth and his courage.

Dr Armstrong's personality also reveals some admirable traits, such as his gentleness, his intelligence and his compassion. He is kind to Vera Claythorne, the young and vulnerable governess who becomes his ally and confidante, and shows concern for her safety and well-being. He also proves to be a valuable asset in the investigations, as he uses his medical knowledge and his analytical skills to analyze the circumstances of the murders and to assist Justice Wargrave, the retired judge who takes charge of the case. Finally, he displays bravery and resourcefulness, when he tries to signal for help with his flashlight, repairs the broken window in his room and joins the others in the search for the killer.

The Dr Armstrong Mystery

The plot of the Dr Armstrong mystery is an intricate and suspenseful web of clues, misdirection and red herrings, that keeps the readers guessing until the very end. Dr Armstrong's role in the plot is initially that of a victim, as he discovers the dead body of Anthony Marston, the reckless and callous millionaire who dies from cyanide poisoning. He then becomes a suspect, as his medical expertise and his access to drugs and poison make him a likely candidate for the killer. However, his behavior and his alibi soon exonerate him, and he becomes more of a helper and a witness to the subsequent murders, providing insights and hypotheses about the modus operandi and the motive of the killer.

Themes and Commentary

The Dr Armstrong mystery is also a story of social commentary, as it comments on various themes and issues that resonate with the readers. One of these themes is guilt, which is a central aspect of Dr Armstrong's story, as well as of the other characters' stories. Each of them is haunted by a crime or a sin from their past, and each bears a symbolic burden that makes them vulnerable to the punishment that awaits them on the island. Dr Armstrong's guilt is particularly poignant, as it reflects the moral and professional responsibility of a doctor, as well as the vulnerability of a man who has lost his status and his purpose. However, his redemption is also more meaningful, as it shows that even the seemingly hopeless and helpless can overcome their demons and find a new sense of meaning and worth.

Another theme that the Dr Armstrong mystery explores is justice, which is a fundamental concept in both law and ethics. The mystery challenges our assumptions and expectations about justice, as it raises questions about the nature and the limits of punishment, the role and the authority of the law, and the role and the responsibility of the individual. Dr Armstrong's position on these issues is ambiguous, as he is torn between his sympathy and his duty, his doubts and his convictions. He also represents a kind of intermediate position between the law, which seeks to punish the guilty, and the victim, who seeks to avenge the wronged. He embodies the dilemma of a sinner who seeks to repent, a victim who seeks to heal, and a witness who seeks to testify.

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In conclusion, the Dr Armstrong mystery in "And Then There Were None" is a fascinating and complex case study in character, plot and social commentary. The character of Dr Armstrong, with his flaws and his virtues, his backstory and his personality, his role in the plot and his thematic significance, adds depth and richness to the mystery, and enhances our appreciation of the novel as a whole. By examining his character, we can explore the issues and the questions that Christie raises about human nature, justice and morality, and can also appreciate the art and the craft of a master of suspense.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Dr. Armstrong Mystery in Agatha Christie’s and Then There Were None. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“Dr. Armstrong Mystery in Agatha Christie’s and Then There Were None.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
Dr. Armstrong Mystery in Agatha Christie’s and Then There Were None. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
Dr. Armstrong Mystery in Agatha Christie’s and Then There Were None [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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