En dödlig komedi. Commedia dell’Arte i Agatha Christies "Peril at End House" (1932) och "The Hollow" (1946)
Sammanfattning: This essay examines the role of Commedia dell’Arte in Agatha Christie’s "Peril at End House" (1932) and "The Hollow" (1946). The connection between the whodunnit novel and Commedia dell’Arte has been made several times, and references to Commedia dell’Arte are common in the whodunnit genre. However, there are almost no academic texts that explore this topic in depth. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to explore how different aspects of Commedia dell’Arte are reflected in "Peril at End House" and "The Hollow". This essay is comparative, and the result is based on studies of the forementioned novels, as well as on previous research on the structure of the whodunnit. The examination shows that traces of Commedia dell’Arte can be found in both novels. Just as the Commedia dell’Arte play utilizes “scenarios”, "Peril at End House" and "The Hollow" follow an act-structure, use a limited number of props as clues and red herrings, and take place in a limited space. The mystery, on the other hand, can be compared to the improvisational aspect of Commedia dell’Arte, as it changes each time. Secondly, the characters in the novels can be classified as stock characters, and display similarities to the characters of Commedia dell’Arte. Just as Harlequin returns in most plays, the “spirit” of the dedicated servant or rich heiress returns time and time again. Lastly, the whodunnit novel and Commedia dell’Arte can both be seen as carnivals, to use the words of Bachtin, and function as a form of escapism.
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