Lying is Sometimes Necessary

A Theme in the Novel: And Then There Were None

The Gramophone

"Without warning, inhuman, penetrating... 'Ladies and gentlemen! Silence, please!' Everyone was startled. They looked round--at each other, at the walls. Who was speaking? The voice went on--a high clear voice. 'You are charged with the following indictments: Edward George Armstrong, that you did upon the 14th day of March, 1925, cause the death of Louisa Mary Clees" (42).


The gramophone goes off (accusing everyone of their murders) and Justice Wargrave acts just as surprised as everyone else (42-46). Beyond this, he appears suspicious and wondering. In this instance, Justice Wargrave had to lie to blend into the crowd. Instead of stating that he set the whole thing up, he pretended to have no clue about the gramophone and appeared to be interested in getting to the bottom of it. This was necessary to protect his plan to murder the murderers.

Power Can be Used for Good or Evil

In many cases, using your power may have both a positive and negative impact. Justice Wargrave used his power (the fact that he set up the event) for both good and evil. On one hand, he was keeping his plans hidden so that the murderers would receive their punishments. He successfully melted into a scared crowd of people while they had to think about their crimes of the past. On the other hand, he was causing much fear and confusion among a some-what innocent group of people. When lying for a necessary reason, it takes a good amount of power to make sure your lying turns up properly and works effectively for good, or evil.

Telling the Truth?

"I reiterate my positive belief that of the seven persons assembled in this room one is a dangerous and probably insane criminal" (149).


Justice Wargrave openly concludes that the murderer must be one of them. By telling the truth, Wargrave was indirectly telling a lie leading people to think that he wasn't the murderer. This is because most people would think it insane that the murderer would reveal his secret. So, this redirected the attention to the rest of the people on the island. Sometimes, telling something truthful that leads to false conclusions can make you appear innocent.

Power Provides the Freedom of Choice

Power usually deals with the right to freedom of choice. This right is hardly ever fully taken away despite a person's control over the situation. Though the victims on Indian island had limited power, they still had the power to pick their thoughts and feelings. This led them to decide that Wargrave wasn't the murderer because he had pointed out a seemingly truthful theory. Oddly enough, this act of power would come back to bite them all when Wargrave's plans came into full effect. The power of freedom of choice can lead people into believing lies without much work on your part.

The Ally

"According to my plan I should shortly need an ally. I selected Dr. Armstrong for the part" (269).

"He was still quite unsuspicious--yet he ought to have been warned--If only he had only remembered the words of the nursery rhyme, 'A red herring swallowed one...' He took the red herring all right...A quick vigorous push sent him off his balance and splash into the heaving sea below" (271).


Sometimes, lying in creative ways could get you the result you are looking for. In this situation, Wargrave pretended to form an alliance with Armstrong to find the murderer. This eventually led to the death of Armstrong. Even though pretending to form an alliance isn't lying, withholding information from an individual is. To kill Dr. Armstrong, Wargrave withheld the fact that he was the murderer to convince Armstrong that they were on the same side.

Power may be active or latent in groups or individuals.

Power can surge in a group of people, or in just one person alone. Power can be absent in a group of people as well if there isn't proper team work. Justice Wargrave was able to gain power in a group by forming a short, but careful alliance with Dr. Armstrong that would ultimately boost his own power on the island after he killed him. From this, we can see that power can be quite active in groups and individuals, and it can transfer in the blink of an eye. When dealing with a group of several people, it may be easier for a single individual to make a group of people accept a lie to up his own power.

As we can tell, lying may be necessary, but it isn't always right.