Justice Wargrave in And Then There Were None

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Justice Wargrave, in ''And Then There Were None,'' turns out to be one of the most stunning characters in the entire book. In this lesson, we will take a look at his role in the famous Agatha Christie murder mystery. Updated: 01/06/2021

Justice Wargrave

We are introduced to Justice Wargrave as he is traveling to the island. At first glance, he is much like the other guests. One of the first really detailed descriptions we get is when Dr. Armstrong first sees him. The doctor wonders, ''Where had he seen that frog-like face, that tortoise-like neck, that hunched up attitude - yes, and those pale shrewd little eyes?''

The doctor realizes it is a judge he had presented evidence to in the past. The doctor remembers that this judge could convince a jury of almost anything. He was called a ''hanging judge.'' This was a term once used to describe a judge who was known for handing down harsh punishments, such as hanging when it was legal.

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  • 0:04 Justice Wargrave
  • 0:46 His Crime
  • 1:50 Wargrave's 'Death'
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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His Crime

Just because he was involved with the law, did not mean that Justice Wargrave was any less guilty of a crime. Like all the guests on the island, Wargrave had murdered someone. When the voice booms over the speaker announcing the crimes, Wargrave's is described as follows ''Lawrence John Wargrave, that upon the 10th day of June 1930, you were guilty of the murder of Edward Seton.'' When he decides to speak about it, he explains that a man came into his court and was accused of murdering an elderly woman.

The man on trial received the death penalty, and Wargrave proclaims, ''My conscience is perfectly clear on the matter. I did my duty and nothing more. I passed sentence on a rightly convicted murderer.''

Despite this claim, Wargrave thinks about Seton a lot throughout the book. In fact, he takes pleasure in remembering the case. Before he goes to sleep one night, the narrator tells us that as Wargrave remembered the sentencing, he ''smiled to himself. He'd cooked Seton's goose all right!'' These are not the reactions of a man who simply performed an act of justice.

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