About the Book

Book Protagonist: Vera Claythorne
Publication Date: 1939
Genre: Drama, Suspense and Thriller


And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie

'And Then There Were None' has an interesting array of characters from different works of life who have one thing in common--a killer who wants all of them dead.

Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, And Then There Were None,’ has captivated readers for generations with its cleverly crafted plot and enigmatic characters. In this article, we delve into the intricate web of personalities on Soldier Island, exploring the psychological depths of each guest as they face their darkest secrets and struggle for survival in the face of mounting suspense.

Justice Wargrave

He is a recently retired old judge, highly intelligent and of an imposing personality. Given his experience and innate air of authority, he naturally becomes the leader of the group trapped on the island when they discover that a murderer is stalking them. He gets evidence together, organizes recces, and sees to it that weapons are securely locked away. He possesses a strong sense of justice and delights in sadistic murders. Both traits are revealed in his character as the impulses that drive him into action.

He had a reputation as a ‘hanging judge’ while he was still an active member of the bench. He sentenced many convicted criminals to death and persuaded juries into bringing back guilty verdicts. The narrator describes him as wizened and ugly with a frog-like face, tortoise-like neck, and pale shrewd little eyes. All these features and ugliness combine to make his appearance even more forbidding. As soon as the situation on the island had become clear to the other characters and they realize that a murderer is after them, they instinctively look to Wargrave for leadership and he obliges them. He is the first to point out to the others that they are dealing with a homicidal maniac. He is also the first to suggest that this killer must be one of them on the island. He often acts like a judge presiding over a court whenever he is leading a meeting on the island.

Vera Claythorne

Vera Claythorne is an ex-governess working as a games mistress in a third-rate school when the story begins. Thinking that she is being hired as secretary to Mrs Owen, she takes a summer job on the island. She has a dark secret, just like the rest of the characters. She was governess to a boy named Cyril Hamilton, whom she let die so that the boy’s relative Hugo will inherit the former’s money and be rich enough to marry her. She was clear of any defaults by an inquest, but Hugo would have nothing to do with her when he realized that she had let Cyril die.

Throughout the narrative, she is plagued by memories of her guilt and often thinks of Hugo with a nagging sense that he is watching her. She is one of the most intelligent and resourceful characters in the novel. This is part of how she manages to be one of the last people standing as the deaths occurred on the island. She outsmarts Philip Lombard who thinks she is a murderer by stealing his gun and indeed shoots him when he moved at her. However, she is not so emotionally stable. She goes through bouts of hysteria over the paranormal nature of the events happening on the island, in addition to her feeling of guilt over the death of Cyril. She is obsessed more than any of the other characters with the rhyme ‘Ten Little Indians,’ which seems to be the subtle impetus to the murders and deaths they are experiencing on the island. It is the synergy of these three influences – her guilt, her proneness to hysteria, and her obsession with the rhyme – that aided Wargrave to set up an atmosphere that effectively rouses Vera to hang herself thereby fulfilling the last line of the rhyme.

Philip Lombard

Lombard is an ex-military man who it appears had served as a soldier in Africa. He is well-travelled and is the character whose past seems the most mysterious of all. He is described as just the sort of fellow who might have easily done several out-of-the-way killings in a secret location somewhere. Indeed he comes to the island in the first place by being hired by Mr. Morris, apparently because their host needs a man to handle a ‘tight spot’. He is often described as moving like a panther and he is always armed with a gun.

He is without a shadow of a doubt a dangerous man. He is audacious, discerning, fearless, and honest. His audaciousness is what enables him to lead many searches on the island. His discernment gave him the insight to suspect Wargrave as the killer, while his fearlessness ensured that he can give word to his suspicion when it arose. His honesty manifests in his owning up to his past default when the voice recording accuses him of having left nineteen men from an East African tribe to die in the bush. He heartily admits to the accusation, whereas the other characters could not do as much without any qualms.

His one sole foible seems to be his rather old-fashioned attitude of chivalry towards women. It is on account of this disposition that he suggests during their first group chat on the island that the women be excluded from the list of possible suspects. In his mind, the possibility of a woman being even in the slightest manner capable of any homicide or bloodshed is completely ruled out. This unfortunately proves to be a chink in his armor as it is this general underestimation of women that afforded Vera the leverage to steal his gun and indeed shoot him when he leaps at her in the event. This is how he ends up, like Vera, being the only other character who does not meet their death directly at the hands of Wargrave.

Edward George Armstrong

Dr Armstrong is a medical doctor. Because of his medical knowledge, the rest of the characters on the island tend to always be suspicious of him. He is an alcoholic and once operated on a patient while under the influence of alcohol. The patient ends up dying accidentally at his hands. He seems to be just the pawn for a murderous venture for although he is an accomplished professional, he possesses a feeble personality. He is too fixated on public success and reputation that he is unable to assess people beyond their superficial exhibitions. He is naïve and had trusted Wargrave too easily and aided him fake his death. As soon as the other characters begin thinking that Wargrave is indeed dead, he effectively unleashes his scheme on the island.

William Henry Blore

He is an ex-police inspector. He is a man of experience and so commonly stirs others to look to him for advice. He is deceitfully lured into the island by being told that their host’s wife needs him to safeguard her jewels from a thief. His crime from the past was framing an innocent man by the name of Landor at the behest of a criminal gang. The innocent man got punished for a crime he did not commit as a consequence and Blore in turn was able to gain a certain promotion.

Blore is not a so discerning human but he is pragmatic and cautious. It is probably a measure of his lack of discernment that he is unable to earn a promotion on his merit. Despite his cautiousness and vigilant surveillance of his fellow guests on the island, he is always coming up with the wrong guess about who the murderer on the island is. Also for all his cautiousness and vigilance, he is not able to avert his death.

Emily Brent

She is a self-righteous religious woman who is convinced of her righteousness as she is certain of everyone else’s sinfulness. Despite the voice recording playing out her own default from her past, she is still confident that she is really without blame and is not going to be killed. What had happened was that she kicked out a certain Beatrice Taylor, a servant, for getting pregnant out of wedlock. The poor woman in despair following this mishap of being relieved of her duty took her own life. There are no apparent signs that Emily Brent feels any remorse or compunction for this misdeed though there are intimations that she may be feeling so at an unconscious level.

Thomas Rogers

He is the butler on the island where the guests are trapped. He is eminently dedicated to his duties, serving the food and drinks always on time and eternally courteous and well-mannered. Even after his wife is found dead and the bodies keep piling up, he remains a duteous servant. And yet not even he is without a blemish from his past. It turns out that he had occasioned the death of his former boss, Jennifer Brady, by delaying the administering of her medicine to her. And this was just so that he and his wife can more speedily inherit the wealth the dear had left them in her will.

General John Gordon Macarthur

He is the oldest guest on the island, a veteran of the Great War. He is accused of having sent a lieutenant, Arthur Richmond, to his death during that war simply on the grounds of the latter is having an affair with his wife.

He seems to have a singularly scrupulous conscience with the result that the burden of the guilt of this particular murder imputable to him becomes too much for him and rendered him almost completely incapable of proceeding with his life normally after the act had been committed. For example, it is narrated that the guilt rankles his conscience with a sense that his colleagues know about the shady incident. As a result, he quickly separated himself from them immediately after the war. His wife also dies shortly after the war leaving him all but too lonely and weary of life. Little wonder that by the time the first death happens on the island, he resigns himself totally to the looming tragedy, sitting by the sea and waiting his turn.

Ethel Rogers

She is the wife of Thomas Rogers. She is the housekeeper on the island and cooks all the meals. From the onset she looks so frail, seeming to be eternally frightened, something which Vera thinks must be related to a sense of guilt about something from her past. She faints at the death of Tony Martson and dies in her sleep from poisoning on the first night on the island.

Anthony Martson

Anthony Martson is an amoral irresponsible young man. Handsome, rich, and athletic he is given to reckless driving and over-speeding. Two small children were killed once in a fatal car accident on account of his over-speeding. Even so, he showed no scruple or remorse.

Isaac Morris

He is the owner of Soldier Island where all the guests gather. He is both a drug trafficker and a crooked lawyer. He is never actually present on the island narrative but had been hired by Wargrave ahead of time to buy the island under the pseudonym of Mr. Owen, as well as work out a credible pretext to effectively invite all the guests to the island. He allegedly sold drugs once to the daughter of one of Wargrave’s friends, driving the young woman ultimately to suicide thereby. Wargrave still manages to eliminate him through poisoning even though he never shows up on the island.


Who helped Wargrave fake his death?

Dr Armstrong was the one who helped Justice Wargrave fake his death. The rather gullible doctor was manipulated by Justice Wargrave into thinking that helping him fake his death would make it easier to reveal the killer. But he was killed by Wargrave shortly after the ruse.

What crime did Emily Brent commit?

Emily Brent was blamed for the suicide of Beatrice Taylor. Brent, who was an overly religious and self-righteous individual, drove Beatrice Taylor away for getting pregnant out of wedlock; Taylor took her own life because of the shame.

Who did Vera Claythorne kill?

Vera Claythorne killed Cyril Hamilton and Philip Lombard. Before going to the island, Vera Claythorne was a governess who let her little ward Cyril Hamilton die for her lover to inherit the family fortune and marry her.
At the island, Claythorne outsmarted and killed Philip Lombard in a physical tussle.

Who survived on the island in ‘And Then There Were None?’

No one survived on the island in Agatha Christie’s story ‘And Then There Were None.’ However, some adaptations alter the ending and have Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard emerging as survivors as Justice Wargrave dies.

Israel Njoku
About Israel Njoku
Israel has a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. He loves entertainment, pop-culture and the arts and tries to extract themes with wider reaching implications from them through rigorous analysis.
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