Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Liqian Huang's Senior Art Thesis  


Agatha Christie

Liqian Huang 

Empress Dowager Cixi

Agatha Christie: Law and Flawed Justice

The Qing Dynasty was the most influential and prosperous period of Chinese history. It laid the groundwork for the People’s Republic of China through new traditions, culture, arts, technology, and economic developments. Toward the end of the Qing Dynasty, in the late nineteenth century, a woman with wild ambition and outstanding talent altered the destiny of China in both efficient and harmful ways. While the life of a concubine was ferociously competitive, Cixi politically manipulated and sexually enticed high-level officials to both survive and to prosper. Soon, she gave birth to the emperor’s only child and moved from concubine to empress. As time went on, Cixi gained more supporters and eventually proclaimed herself emperor of China. Cixi was the only woman who controlled the Qing Dynasty and all Chinese domestic and international affairs. Concurrently, she changed the status and perception of female leaders in China and around the world. Her death indirectly caused the demise of a dynasty and the new beginning of the People’s Republic of China, a country that continues to reflect the culture and traditions of the Qing Dynasty.

As Empress Dowager Cixi challenged the traditional role of women and governed the whole country independently, Agatha Christie was also a strong presence as she established herself as the foremost British detective and mystery author in the world. Agatha Christie is best known for And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and other detective novels. Christie criticizes the legal system that does not protect the innocent and the deep darkness of humanity which is the root of crime. For instance, the protagonist in And Then There Were None believes there is not absolute equality in this society and he plans the whole mysterious murder of ten individuals -- and then his own suicide -- in an effort to enact his concept of justice. Agatha Christie also depicts upright characters to resist this dark side of human nature, such as detective Hercule Poirot of Murder on the Orient Express, who catches all the criminals by using his outstanding skills in psychological analysis and his enthusiasm for justice.

Major Works Consulted:

Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.
---. Murder on the Orient Express. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.
Jung, Chang. Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. New York: Knopf, 2013.
Zhang, Zhan. “Cixi and Modernization of China.” Asian Social Science, no.4 (2010):154-159. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/view /5685/4604.
Photo Credit: Pembrey, Daniel. "Agatha Christie: Poison Ivy." Luxury London. N.p., 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017. http://www.luxurylondon.co.uk/article/agatha-christie-poison-ivy.

 

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