In this lesson, we will discuss the characters from Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novel, ”Murder on the Orient Express”. Many of these characters are connected in ways that are not readily apparent.
What would you do if someone you loved was brutally murdered, but the murderer received no consequences? The judicial system is designed to fairly discipline those that break the law, but it is not perfect.
In Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, someone aboard the train has a plan to avenge her death by murdering the murderer. Investigators try to uncover what has happened. Let’s learn more about the characters in this novel.
After the murder, three of the characters take the lead in gathering evidence and drawing conclusions. They are:
- Hercule Poirot is a Belgian detective who is a recurring character in Agatha Christie’s novels. Not only is he the protagonist, but he is also the narrator.
He is extremely successful, intelligent, and has great instincts. This novel also shows an ethical side as he determines that justice in this case clashes with the law.
- Monsieur Bouc is an old friend of Poirot’s who used to work with him at the Belgian police department.
Now, he works for the company that provides sleeping cars on trains. Bouc inadvertently bumps into Poirot at a hotel in Istanbul before they both board the Orient Express. Bouc does not have the same degree of intelligence of Poirot and is often confused as Poirot puts the case together.
Constantine is a Greek doctor who serves as the coroner after the murder. Dr. Constantine examines the body and helps collect evidence for Poirot. Constantine works with Poirot and Bouc to assist with the investigation.
The Armstrong Case
Although the subject of the novel is Ratchett’s murder, the drama that led to the murder happened a couple of years earlier with the murder of Daisy Armstrong.
- Ratchett is an American passenger on the Orient Express. Poirot immediately suspects he is evil, therefore when Ratchett claims he is getting death threats and needs Poirot’s help, Poirot refuses. Ratchett is the victim of the murder on the Orient Express. It is revealed that he is actually the child murderer Cassetti, who was not punished by the legal system.
- Daisy Armstrong is the 3-year old daughter of Sonia Armstrong and Colonel John Armstrong. Daisy’s maternal grandmother is a famous stage actress.
Daisy is kidnapped by Cassetti and held for ransom. After her wealthy family pays the ransom, Daisy is found dead. Her family and friends describe her as ”the delight of the house.”
Since the court system did not punish Cassetti, an assembly of 12 ‘jurors,’ who are family and friends of the Armstrongs, decide to enforce their own form of justice on the Orient Express.
The following people pretended to be mere passengers on the train.
- Countess Andrenyi is the young, attractive sister of Sonia Armstrong. The Countess, like her mother, is an actress.
In order to hide her identity, she drops grease on her passport and smudges her name on her luggage tag. Her husband, Count Andrenyi, is extremely protective of her and steps in for her during the murder.
- Colonel Arbuthnot was a good friend of Daisy’s father, John. John killed himself soon after Daisy’s murder. Poirot is immediately suspicious of Arbuthnot because on the train to Istanbul, it appears that he and Mary Debenham are pretending not to know each other. Arbuthnot is an Englishman that doesn’t like Americans.
- Mary Debenham was Daisy Armstrong’s governess.
She is a beautiful and feisty woman who is in a relationship with Arbuthnot. Poirot characterizes her as being calm and collected enough to have planned Ratchett’s murder. Besides Poirot, Mary is the strongest, most intelligent character.
- Princess Dragomiroff is the ugly, old Russian princess who is the godmother to Sonia Armstrong and Countess Andrenyi.
She is loyal to the Armstrong family. Her resolve to avenge Daisy’s death supersedes her physical strength.
- Antonio Foscarelli is an Italian man who lives in Chicago. Bouc profiles him and thinks he is the murderer because Foscarelli and Cassetti are both Italian names, but in reality, Foscarelli was the chauffeur for the Armstrong family and was very attached to Daisy.
- Cyrus Hardman is an American detective that was hired by Ratchett as a bodyguard.
He was in love with Daisy’s caregiver who committed suicide after being falsely accused of involvement in Daisy’s kidnapping and murder.
- Mrs. Hubbard is actually Linda Arden. She is a famous stage actress and the maternal grandmother of Daisy Armstrong. Poirot refers to her as the American woman who always talks about her daughter.
She offers to take the blame when Poirot solves the murder.
- MacQueen is the son of the District Attorney who failed to prosecute Ratchett. He learns the details of the case from his father and becomes ‘very fond of Sonia.’ He has been hired as Ratchett’s assistant.
- Mr. Masterman is a minor character who works as Ratchett’s valet on the Orient Express. He served under Daisy’s father in the war and then became his valet.
- Pierre Michel is the conductor of the Orient Express.
His daughter was Daisy’s caregiver that committed suicide.
- Greta Ohlsson is Daisy’s gentle, Swedish nurse.
- Hildegarde Schmidt pretends to be Princess Dragomiroff’s maid, but is really the Armstrong’s cook. She is not very intelligent, but does whatever she is told.
This lesson is designed to be a companion to Murder on the Orient Express to help the reader differentiate the characters in this novel. The investigators, Hercule Poirot, Monsieur Bouc, and Dr.
Constantine gather evidence to solve the murder of Ratchett, who is actually Cassetti, the man who got away with murdering Daisy Armstrong. Friends, family, and employees of Daisy’s parents, Sonia Armstrong and Colonel John Armstrong, work together to avenge Daisy’s death. Countess Andrenyi, Count Andrenyi, Colonel Arbuthnot, Mary Debenham, Princess Dragomiroff, Antonio Foscarelli, Cyrus Hardman, Mrs. Hubbard (aka Linda Arden), MacQueen, Mr. Masterman, Pierre Michel, Greta Ohlsson, and Hildegarde Schmidt board the train under false pretenses with the intention of committing murder.