The role of women in detective fiction in the works of Agatha Christie's - A Body in the Library vs Dorothy Sayers - Strong Poison.

Essay by bkl0irnnkCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2008

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Women Detectives as Related to Social status the role of women in Golden Age detective fiction was influenced by the historical and social events of the time period. During and after the World War I, women assumed an increasingly important role in society entering the predominantly male work place and securing voting rights. Women in literature were destined to be granted major roles in detective fiction novels. Agatha Christie finally broke the predominance of the male detective. The changing social environment during this period posed questions involving gender and generation. These questions eventually entered the realm of literature, especially detective fiction. Analysis of Agatha Christie's amateur detective Miss Jane Marple and the role of women in Dorothy Sayers's Strong Poison, can help us draw meaningful conclusions about these authors' opinions about the place of women in this modern, ever-changing society.

Christie's novel The Body in the Library features Marple as the spinster detective who solves the murder of Ruby Keane.

Marple uses her familiarity of human nature and ability to draw parallels to village life to identify motive, pinpoint suspects, isolate key facts, and solve the mystery. Prior to this novel, detectives were typically male, regardless of whether they were an amateur, professional, classic or hardboiled sleuth. Christie's introduction of Marple as the detective of several of her novels was aimed at breaking down the standard of detection fiction prior to this text. Marple speaks volumes about Christie's stance on the role of women in society as a woman enters into the male dominated field.

Marple's appeal is partly due to Christie's ability to convey respect for her from the male characters in the text. This is accomplished this by providing Marple with male admirers (e.g. the other detectives working on the Ruby Keane case), indicated by Marple's choice to...