Literature: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
is a 1962 novel by Agatha Christie
, featuring Miss Marple
Miss Marple investigates the murder of Heather Badcock, who consumed a poisoned cocktail apparently meant for American film actress Marina Gregg, Heather's idol. As Marple investigates, she discovers dark secrets in Marina's past, secrets which also link to other seemingly innocent citizens of St. Mary Mead.
The title of the novel comes from the poem "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The story has been adapted three times for the screen, with Angela Lansbury, Joan Hickson, and Julia MacKenzie playing Miss Marple.
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side contains examples of the following tropes:
- Actor Allusion: The very first episode of Murder, She Wrote starts with Jessica Fletcher watching the rehearsal of a murder mystery play and calmly pointing out who did it by the end of the first act. Angela Lansbury did much the same thing at the beginning of the 1980 film adaptation of The Mirror Crack'd, in the role of Miss Marple.
- All-Star Cast: The 1980 film adaptation starred Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Geraldine Chaplin.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Marina poisoned Heather in a fit of murderous rage. If she had not had the means to do so immediately at hand, she probably would have had time to calm down, and the tragedy would have been averted.
- Beneath Suspicion: Marina successfully makes herself look like the intended victim, taking her off the suspect list completely.
- Blackmail: Ella tries this. She calls up people left right and center to tell them she saw them poison Heather's drink. She eventually reaches the correct person, and gets killed for her pains. Christie always kills off her blackmailers.
- Cat Fight: Played for laughs in the 1980 film. Marina and Lola exchange hilarious strings of snide insults.
- Driven to Suicide: The killer is found dead of an overdose after The Reveal. It is implied that this was actually because her husband had done it to prevent further murders and to save her from suffering further.
- Hollywood Old: Having Angela Lansbury, famous for starring in Murder, She Wrote, play Miss Marple in the 1980 film version might seem like a very logical move. However, back then, Lansbury by her own admission was 20 years too young for the role.
- Honorary Uncle: Inspector Craddock starts calling Miss Marple "Aunt Jane" — which he doesn't in any of the other books he's in.
- Inspiration Nod: Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote seems to have been more than slightly inspired by Miss Marple, especially since series star Angela Lansbury had previously played Marple in the movie version of The Mirror Crack'd
- It's All About Me: Heather Badcock is a non-villainous example of this. She isn't mean, and actually goes out of her way to do nice things for other people, like rescuing Miss Marple after a nasty fall or taking in a homeless family. However, she is incapable of recognizing that her actions affect other people or that what something means to her might not be the same for other people involved. The primary example of this was that when she got sick, she didn't recognize that the doctor's instructions to "Stay in bed and don't go out to meet people" might not have been just for her benefit…
- Let Off by the Detective: It is subtly implied that Marina was poisoned by her husband to save her from public disgrace and prevent more murders. Miss Marple suspects this is the case, but keeps quiet.
- Literary Allusion Title: From "The Lady Of Shalott".
- Little Old Lady Investigates: Miss Marple.
- Mercy Kill: Implied to have been done to Marina by her devoted husband Jason at the end.
- Murder by Mistake: Heather's murder appears to be a misdirected attempt on Marina's life. In fact, this trope is inverted here, because Heather was killed on purpose by Marina herself.
- Never One Murder
- New House New Problems
- Obfuscating Insanity: Marina wavers between this and actual insanity.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The plot is remarkably similar to the real-life tragedy of Gene Tierney, who contracted rubella while pregnant, resulting in Daria being born premature, deaf, blind, and severely retarded. These problems contributed to (or, perhaps, outright caused) Tierney's own depression and bipolar disorder. About a year later a woman approached Tierney at a party and said that she had sneaked out of her marine base, under a rubella quarantine at the time, to meet her when she appeared at the Hollywood Canteen, a wartime club that catered to service members where Hollywood stars would appear. Tierney simply stared at the woman, then turned and walked away. She later wrote, "After that I didn't care whether ever again I was anyone's favorite actress." It should be noted, however, the Christie was asked about the similarity and claimed she'd never heard about Tierney's story until after The Mirror Cracked was published.
- Society Marches On: Marina's child being disabled would still be a great blow to parents today, but in the time the novel was written, such children were removed to institutions almost immediately and may have had almost nothing to do with their families. The loss is almost as if the baby had not survived at all. It also isn't lightly mentioned that the child even existed.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Heather was unwittingly responsible for giving Marina German measles and causing her only biological child to be born with birth defects. Marina suffered a breakdown as a result, and when Heather turned up telling with pride how she had snuck out of quarantine to meet her, Marina flew into a rage and poisoned her in the heat of the moment.
- Jason Rudd is implied to have killed Marina himself, to stop her committing more murders and to save her from public disgrace.
- Woman Child: Marina Gregg.