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The contrasting treatment of two famous detectives: Miss Marple & John Rebus With reference to Characterisation, Setting &T he Crime Itself

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Nathan McLennan Specialist Study on Literature The contrasting treatment of two famous detectives: Miss Marple & John Rebus With reference to Characterisation, Setting & The Crime Itself In this essay I will investigate the literary differences between two fictional detectives, Miss Marple and D.I. Rebus. I will attempt to show how the two detectives contrast in their personality, their background and their detective style through the respective author's use of characterisation, setting and the crimes themselves. Agatha Christie is perhaps the world's best-known mystery writer. In my research I have discovered that her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and millions more in other languages. She wrote 79 novels and short story collections. Ian Rankin's first Rebus book was intended to be a one-off, but there was more interest in the detective, and many Rebus books have now been written. Miss Jane Marple made her first appearance in 'Murder at the Vicarage.' The novel was set in her home village of St Mary's Mead. Her style of detection is based on character observations, often linked to the behaviour of St Mary's Mead villagers. She is respectable, dignified, a spinsterish old maiden of around 65-70, who wears her hair tied up in an old-fashioned style (for the time). She is middle-upper class. The following illustrate Miss Marple's character: "Miss Marple said in a faintly puzzled voice." "Miss Marple nodded thoughtfully." "'I remember,' said Miss Marple thoughtfully, 'One Sunday morning at Church - it was the second Sunday morning in Advent.'" ...read more.


I will explore this in the next section. In 'They Do it With Mirrors,' the richness and opulence of the settings are masterfully created. "A vast edifice of Victorian Gothic. A kind of temple to Plutocracy." "The furniture was mahogony, big and solid, and the bed was a vast mahogany four-poster." "This was unexpectedly modern, orchid in colouring and with much dazzling chromium." However, when I read and analysed the book, the setting seemed strangely irrelevant. In my opinion, Agatha Christie's mystery would work well anywhere. Her style of crime novel does fit seamlessly in most settings - as has been shown in 'Death on the Nile,' and 'Murder on the Orient Express,' taking place respectively on a riverboat cruising the Nile, or a train carriage in the Orient. 'Dead Souls', in contrast, exposes Edinburgh as a dirty, run-down pit - the complete opposite of its polite tourist 'facade'. "There was a row of cheap trophies above the mantlepiece: darts and pool, pub sports." "It was a billowing three-piece suite, and assorted tables and units." "Rebus had been born in a pre-fab but brought up in a terrace." The world of Rebus is poor and sleazy - working class poverty - the dark belly of 'Auld Reekie'. There is no plutocracy here. Instead Edinburgh's dirt is entwined into the storyline. The setting is an integral part of the story. In conclusion, the setting in 'They Do It With Mirrors' could be anywhere, as the mystery or crime and its detection is the centre of the novel. ...read more.


They provide no unnecessary distractions - almost like a stage play. In fact, Christie's novel is a timeless literary crime labyrinth - the reader initially is lost in the maze and is led not by Arachne's thread, but Miss Jane Marple's threads of logic and deduction. The puzzles are enduring. In contrast the Rebus novels are more involving - they don't just present the reader with an intriguing black and white crossword puzzle with a twist. Instead Rankin takes the reader deep into the text and thus into the characters' world where the reader feels part of it all. Rankin achieves this depth through his realistic representation of the darker aspects of Edinburgh and Fife. The basic characters of Rebus and Marple are the same, in my opinion. To paraphrase Christie, they both expect the worst of everyone and everything and are usually proved right. They are products of their environment - Marple is divorced from the corruption of the environment, however, while John Rebus is reluctantly married to it. To conclude, the word 'rebus' actually means 'puzzle.' The irony is, however, that although 'rebus' means 'Puzzle', the crimes in 'Dead Souls' are in fact not puzzling at all. Instead, Miss Marple is an enigma, she is the 'rebus' - a puzzle that solves puzzles. I really enjoyed these books and also enjoyed analysing them for this essay. They entertained and enlightened me. I found Christie's novel intellectually satisfying, while Rebus engaged my sympathies, but both novels were ultimately a great read. Words: 1873 -5 Nathan McLennan, Higher English Specialist Study - Literature ...read more.

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