Detective Stories and Their Political, Cultural and Religious Background

Traditionally, detective stories are focused on crimes and their investigation. At the same time, it does not necessarily mean that all detective stories do not mirror political, cultural or religious background of the social environment in which the action of detective stories take place. In stark contrast, many detective stories pay a lot of attention to political, cultural and religious discourse. In this respect, it is possible to refer to “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” by A.C. Doyle and “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” by A. Christie. In fact, both stories uncover political, cultural and religious background of the society and the main characters help readers better understand the environment in which they lived and worked.

First of all, it is worth mentioning the fact that “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” and “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” are, to a significant extent, similar to each other and the political, cultural and religious message they convey reveal the very spirit of the late Victorian epoch, when Great Britain played the dominant role in the world, while its traditions were still strong and highly respected. No wonder, the main characters as well as the setting of both stories reveal the stability of the British and British traditions which are perceived as mainstream trends in the world. The latter is particularly obvious in “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”.

At the same time, it should be said that “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” and “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” present quite a different view on religion. To put it more precisely, A.C. Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” refers to the Christmas as one of the major holidays and one of the oldest traditions which have been strictly observed in Great Britain since the epoch of the early Christianity, when Christian religion became the mainstream religion. In such a way, the author intentionally emphasizes his respect to religious traditions and Christianity at large. In this respect, it is quite symbolic that the author introduces the story which seems to be mysterious at first glance. In fact, when Peterson finds a carbuncle in the crop of the goose, it seems to be a miracle, while the Christmas was traditionally associated with miracles in Christianity. In such a way, the author intentionally enforces the sacred attitude of the public to this religious holiday. On the other hand, Doyle reveals the extent to which religious holidays were important for the British at the epoch, since a Christina goose was an essential element of the holiday in practically all British families who could afford it at the epoch.

As for “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”, this story is also characterized by the presence of mystical elements. Moreover, mysticism is even more significant in this story than in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”. A. Christie depicts several deaths which occur in success one after another. Naturally, readers tend to attribute these death to the curse of Egyptians pharaohs since all of the characters who have died were directly or indirectly related to the excavation of an ancient Egyptian tomb. However, unlike A.C. Doyle, A. Christie does not really tend to focus on the religious aspect paying more attention to mysticism. At any rate, Christian attributes are barely present in the story, but they are implicit since the author gradually debunks mystic elements and tends to explain the deaths logically as if she wants to show that superstitions are hostile to British culture and religion.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that both authors focus on the logical analysis of crimes which are committed in the course of both stories. In fact, both A.C. Doyle and A. Christie demonstrate the power of logic. For instance, Sherlock Holmes uses successfully his deductive method to uncover the mystery of the blue carbuncle found in the goose crop, while Hercule Poirot investigates successfully and explains logically the deaths of the characters, which were caused by “human” factor but not by a curse or any other mysterious force.

Moreover, the cause of mysteries and crimes in both stories are logical and have material background.

In this respect, it should be said that the author have managed to reveal the importance of the social status and wealth in the British culture of that epoch. In fact, James Ryder steals the blue carbuncle because he views the gem stone as means of his personal enrichment. He believes that the gem stone can make him rich and prosperous that reveals the dominant cultural values of that epoch. Similarly, all the deaths in “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” are caused by the wealth the characters were eager to inherit. In such a way, the wealth becomes a cause of crimes and deaths of people. Therefore, A. Christie actually agrees with A.C. Doyle in regard to the overwhelming impact of wealth and pursuit of material prosperity as the dominant forces in the British culture of the epoch (Redmond, 211). It proves beyond a doubt that the authors condemn crimes and the fact that the crimes are investigated successfully and criminals are punished clearly reveal the attitude of the authors to crimes and negative impact of wealth on human nature. At the same time, such a negative attitude to crime and wealth may be explained by the impact of the past epoch, when idealistic views were still relevant in British society and culture. On the other hand, the negative impact of wealth, which the authors reveal in their works, indicates to a consistent change in the British culture. In fact, it is obvious that ideals of the past are practically out of date and people are not concerned with morality anymore, while wealth becomes their major goal and primary concern which pushes them to violate legal and moral laws.

Finally, on analyzing the political background of “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” and “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”, it should be said that both authors lay emphasis on the significant of Great Britain in the world. In fact, Doyle is apparently less concerned with political background of his story because he merely refers to political discourse. In fact, he just depicts the British society as properly organized and ruled and he shows that the British society is the society where the law rules. In such a way he stresses the progress of Great Britain as one of the most civilized nations in the world.

Actually, the political background is particularly significant in A. Christie’s story, where the author shows that Great Britain is a truly world empire and the British are the most advanced nation in the world. For instance, she shows that British scientists conduct research in Egypt and they are depicted as being superior to the local population, which are depicted as uneducated, ignorant people, which are contrasted to British scientists (Thompson, 174). In such a way, A. Christie reveals strong, imperialist ambitions of Great Britain which defined its political life at the epoch.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that A.C. Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” and A. Christie’s “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” convey political, cultural and religious background of Great Britain at the epoch when the action of the stories took place. In actuality, both authors clearly indicate to the importance of British traditions which persist throughout centuries are relevant at the epoch which they depict in their stories. At the same time, they also reveal a problem that arises in the new epoch which comes to change the Victorian epoch in Great Britain. To put it more precisely, they show that the British culture has already started to change. Even though old traditions are still important material interests and wealth become the major forces which define the behavior of people and force them to commit crimes. In such a context, it is possible to speak about certain devaluation of traditional religious values. On the other hand, the authors shows that the British society is still a civilized society where the law rules and where crimes are punishable that is normal for the most powerful country in the world, which was Great Britain at the epoch.

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