English 11

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

In the novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, the narrator played a immensely important role in the telling of the novel. Dr. Sheppard the narrator, had the motive and opportunity to commence with the murder.

In the novel, the narrator starts by letting the reader into his mind. By being let into the narrator’s mind, trust is being built up. This is key because it makes the reader believe in what the Dr. Sheppard is saying. Leading up to the murder, there is a lot of information in his head that he is expressing to the reader except for parts of planning the murder. During the night of the murder, it is crucial that the trust is built up between the reader and the narrator in order for the mystery. When Dr. Shepard leaves out the fact that he indeed killed Roger Ackroyd, it makes the reader think that Dr.Sheppard had left the house already, adding to the importance of making sure that people knew he had left.

The narrator did show signs of being unreliable because of the fact that he left out important information. However, he did not directly lie to the reader but only that he left out where he had been and what he had done. For a narrator to be unreliable they have to offer little insight which Dr. Sheppard did not do. He let the reader into the investigation but merely hid his own actions. As Dr. Sheppard was narrating from his own perspective, he was able to bend his own picture of reality, but did not bend it for others. After comparing Dr. Sheppard to a unreliable narrator, he fits in with creating a distorted view and creating a false insight on the murder and would be considered an unreliable narrator. However, just because he leaves out a few pieces of information, it does not make him unreliable. He still tells the story in detail and you get a true sense of what is going on, making him reliable. The narrator in the book could be classified as a reliable narrator but to take everything he says with a bit of suspicion.

The role of the narrator also played a big part in the framing of Ralf Patton. When reading through the eyes of the narrator, it is very suspicious that Ralf left his hotel in a rush and has not been heard from or seen of since the time of the murder. If Dr. Sheppard were to have been entirely truthful, the readers would have known that Dr. Shepard involved himself with Ralf to make him seem like the murderer.

Overall the narrator’s role is necessary to mystery of the novel as without it, the book would be very different or not as interesting and exiting.

Hamlet’s Humanity

Hamlet, in the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, can be described as a fully-human character. Even with limited exposure to the play, one can immediately identify with Hamlet. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, deeply grieved by his father’s death and worsened by his mother’s disgustingly quick remarriage. These events cause Hamlet to show vulnerability, be wracked with emotion, and seek vengeance. Through his experience of these basic human traits, the spectator or reader is quickly drawn into and able to identify with his true humanity.

Hamlet reveals the depth of his vulnerability in his soliloquy in 1.2. 155-162. He does not shy away and hide behind the image of an invincible character but instead shows grief and vulnerability, showing that he is no greater than any other human. “Than I to Hercules” 1.2 156, Hamlet compares himself to the Greek god but in such a way that he puts himself beneath the great Hercules, again emphasizing his humanity. This is so important in the play as it facilitates the development of the viewer’s connection to Hamlet and encourages compassion for Hamlet. This compassion enhances the quality and effectiveness of every line!

A secondary supporting example of Hamlet’s humanity, is his open demonstration of emotion. Immediately in his soliloquy, he allows the reader into his thoughts and feelings. The drama and exaggeration allow for his humanity to shine through. He is no longer a two-dimensional character but a three-dimensional human being, with his own thoughts, and layers of emotion. Shakespeare does this so effectively by using imagery which helps the reader associate personal sensations with the character. A prime example is found in 1.2. 138-140:

“ Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this!”

This compares Hamlet’s feelings of corruption and misery in the world to an image of an overgrown, weed-filled garden. In this example, parasitic behaviour thrives and corruption is rewarded, all being very similar to the recent trauma Hamlet has experienced.

In conclusion, Hamlet can not only be recognized as a human-like character, but also a representation of human emotion and functionality. He is to be a reminder of the true ability and effects of imagery. Shakespeare’s use of imagery is what allows each individual reader to relate and grow a complex and layered attachment to Hamlet. All of these factors make Hamlet’s heartbreaking death even more impactful.

Reliability of Dr. James Sheppard

Can a narrator affect your ability to comprehend a story? In the case of the novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, written by Agatha Christie, the answer is ‘yes’. Throughout this classic murder mystery, the reader is guided by Dr. James Sheppard, the local doctor in the small village of King Abbott, who tells the tale of tale of Roger Ackroyd’s murder. At the end of the novel it is revealed that the killer is the one leading you along this gut-wrenching murder tale, Dr. Sheppard himself. This ironic ending creates many questions; but most of all, was Dr. Sheppard a reliable narrator? At first thought your answer would be ‘no’ because he was involved in the murder, but I plan to persuade you otherwise.

To begin with, the definition of an unreliable narrator states that: “he is a character whose telling of the story is not completely accurate or credible due to problems with the character’s mental state or maturity.” Our character, Dr. Sheppard, does not necessarily fit this definition. Dr. Sheppard never lies to the reader throughout the entirety of the novel and accurately and effectively tells the truthful events of the story that do not involve himself. On the other hand, he is leaves out key information about the murder mystery, which is unreliable; but this information that is left out is irrelevant to the telling of his story about the investigation of the murder, as opposed to the murder itself. The following quote (301) illustrates how Dr. Sheppard’s truthful telling of the story allows him to effectively remain a reliable narrator while hiding behind irrelevant details:

“‘The inspector was surprised – but you – you were not.’

‘I never dreamed of her being the thief,’ I expostulated.

‘That – perhaps no. But I was watching your face and you were not – like Inspector

Raglan – startled and incredulous.’

I thought for a minute or two.

‘Perhaps you are right,’ I said at last. ‘All along I’ve felt that Flora was keeping back something…”

This quote is quite revealing as pausing for a minute or two to think in the middle of a conversation is suspect but it proves he was not lying to readers. He was just distracting readers with red herrings like Flora Ackroyd stealing the money from Roger Ackroyd.

Finally, in conclusion, Dr. Sheppard’s ability to create trust and empathy from the reader is why the ending of the story has the reader clenching the page. The care and accuracy applied to his narration, down to exact minutes, leaves no other option but to prove his reliability. Even as a cold-blooded killer he is not a liar, nor is he biased throughout the telling of his very own murder mystery.

A War Of Sounds

An enticing battle fought between the softness and vulnerability of strings compared to the impactful aggression of brass. “Viennese Blood”, composed by  Johann Strauss, demonstrates a complex, yet playful battle between string and brass instruments. Both types of instruments, with their own unique qualities, guide the listener along a conflicted journey, that is resolved beautifully by the tethering of percussion.

The composition begins with a near melancholy introduction of string instruments. The string instruments continue to take the listener down a fearful, and depressing sequence. This is then overcome by a blast of brass instruments. The brass instruments appear to have an aggressive, almost dictatorial-like feeling, as they silence the soft string instruments. To counter, the string instruments return, matching the energy of brass in a joyful rebuttal. This battle between hardness and softness continues as though both styles were on separate ends of a teeter-totter….back and forth.

The composition takes on an image of endless rolling hills with no end in sight. Hill after hill, roll after roll, an infinite spiral of elegance and finesse. As your ears begin to slowly grow tired of warring instruments, a sudden burst of energy is introduced by percussion. The percussion, in an overwhelming fashion, matches the beautiful softness of strings to the popping blast of brass instruments. Where one would believe no uniformity possible, both opposite spectrums tether and warp into one beautiful body as the piece approaches its close.

In conclusion, “Viennese Blood” is a dramatic and artistic piece deserving nothing less than perfection. It was able to guide and hold a listener along an unforgettable journey, sealed ever so carefully by a beautiful uniformity of percussion, strings and brass!

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