Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jane Marple

The distinction between Miss Marple mysteries and those of say, Poirot or Holmes lies in where the emphasis is placed. Poirot and Holmes are the stars of their exploits. In Miss Marple stories it is the nature of fallen man that stands in center stage. Sherlock Holmes uses deduction to root out the source of evil and Hercule Poirot his knowledge of the human psyche. Miss Marple has simply lived long enough to see it all, and there is nothing new under the sun.

People laugh at the amateur detective in stories like the ones Miss Marple stars in, because it is hard to believe that one person would encounter so many murders in their lifetime and in a small village, but the world being what it is, should we laugh? The world is an evil place and bad things happen all the time. It is not enough to simply blame the nature of the world. It is human nature that causes a lot of the evil witnessed day in and day out.

The profound thing about Miss Marple stories is that the murder, no matter how strange, in each case reminds her of another event in the history of the village. No matter how bizarre or brutal the case may be, it bares similarities to other—perhaps more common place and less dastardly—relational problems others have faced.

And that is the nature of evil in the world. For every terrible, newsworthy atrocity there are dozens of similar albeit less intense evils occurring. For all the talk of the devil wreaking havoc, the problem is often carried out by man with no outside help whatsoever.

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