Society

Would the Great Mind of Hercule Poirot be Great Today?

Agatha Christie’s beloved Belgium might be in for a plot twist in modern society

Nonggol Darapati
4 min readMay 20, 2024

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Image courtesy: Apollo magazine

As I was watching the iconic David Suchet portray Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth, Hercule Poirot, on the BBC, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would still be the same person if Christie had created him in the 21st century instead of the 20th. What if Poirot’s first case The Mysterious Affair at Styles happened in 2020 instead of 1920?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the resources that were available to Christie’s Poirot were no longer available to us. It does come down to nature vs nurture, but the environment that a person grows up in plays a big part in nature vs nurture. And the environment supports the culture which shapes us as a person.

These are some of the differences between Poirot’s world and ours today.

Habit & Routine

Poirot is a creature of habit. He does the same thing every day. In the mornings Poirot would read his newspaper and drink his Tisane.

For many of us today, it is hard to keep a habit and routine, not for lack of effort, but simply because circumstances won’t permit us to keep habits and routines.

The majority of the population today are not gentlemen of leisure. Poirot had his detective agency and could be considered an entrepreneur but he didn’t have deadlines or people texting him or even a wife and children that demanded his energy.

Modern life, despite the many technological advances today, is not making our lives any simpler than they were.

Peace and Quiet

Have you tried getting to a space with peace these days? I mean real peace, no dogs barking, people talking loudly, or cars honking. Just quiet in its very definition. The kind that Poirot always had in his study and his apartment.

In 1920, there were approximately 2 billion people in the world. Today the global population stands at about 8 billion people. The world’s population has quadrupled since Poirot’s time.

Poirot lives in a flat, he does not live in the suburbs or on a farm with acres of land. And yet, during his time, peace is always prevalent and available for him. I don’t believe this would be the case had Poirot lived in a flat today.

56% of the world’s population currently live in cities, amounting to 4,4 billion people. Most of these people live in flats and apartments just like Poirot. Some of the challenges that Poirot may face today as an apartment dweller are: pests, noisy neighbors, pet problems, apartment renovations (from neighbors, and building maintenance).

With all these issues daily, would Poirot have the energy to think and solve the complex cases he handles? When we can’t hear ourselves think, it’s difficult to solve an intricate murder mystery.

Digital Distractions

Poirot didn’t have smartphones or screens bombarding him with content 24/7. Television was invented in 1927, seven years after Poirot’s first case.

Throughout Poirot’s adventures, as a man living in the 1920s, he is shown playing cards or board games, visiting museums, going to the theatre, and also reading.

Poirot finds enjoyment in the arts, which invite interpretation and stimulate the mind. In contrast, modern high-tech gadgets offer limited opportunities for such engagement. Statistics show that Gen Z and teenagers today spend an average of five hours a day on TikTok. This equates to five hours of consuming content that neither stimulates the brain nor fosters curiosity and critical thinking.

Another entertainment that Poirot often spends time on is reading. Reading sharpens the mind (or “the little grey cells,” as Poirot would say) and enhances cognitive abilities.

Human Connection

Poirot spends the majority of his time in the company of Captain Hastings, Ms. Lemon, and Inspector Japp. In addition to that, he has a steady stream of new clients coming in through word of mouth.

Poirot’s only means of communication at that time was the telephone. He didn’t have any social media, instant messaging, or any of the digital novelty that we rely on heavily today. However, these human connections are good for the soul.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, approximately 970 million people globally have mental health issues, anxiety and depression being the most common.

With the rise of technology, people no longer value human connections. With the increase of solitude and loneliness, it’s no wonder that 1 out of 8 people suffer from mental health challenges.

Time

However, the most prized commodity and resource that Poirot has is time. He is free to think clearly, to ponder and reflect. Time is a luxury that many of us don’t have in the modern world.

For women, most of us have a family to take care of, children to cook for, jobs to go to, and laundry to clean. In addition, according to the Video game industry report, more than 215 million people, or 2/3 of Americans play video games regularly. Taking care of a family or playing video games significantly takes up any free time that we have. This is something that Poirot has never had to do. He was single with no one to care for but himself.

Moreover, Poirot often consulted cases in an individual capacity. He was not bound by deadlines, office work hours, or being chased by a micromanaging manager.

Hercule Poirot may have been blessed with a natural talent for detection, but it’s important to remember that his environment played a crucial role in enabling him to reach his full potential.

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