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ICSE Class 10 English The Mousetrap Summary
We have provided below a summary of Chapter The Mousetrap. This is an important chapter in Standard 10th ICSE English. The summary provided below has been prepared by expert English faculty for ICSE based on the latest ICSE books. You should refer to all Chapter Summaries ICSE Class 10 English which will help you to understand all chapters and to get more marks in exams.
The Mousetrap ICSE Class 10 English
About the Author
Agatha Christie, was born in Torquay, Devon 1890 to Clarissa Margaret Boehmer and a wealthy American stockbroker. She was brought up by both, her mother and sister. In the First World War, she trained and worked as a nurse helping to treat wounded soldiers. She also took education in the field of pharmacy. She recalled her time as a nurse with great fondness, saying, it was one of the most rewarding jobs she ever undertook.
Agatha Christie married an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps – Archibald Christie, in December 1914. The marriage was somewhat turbulent and ended in, divorce in 1928, two years after Archibald had begun an affair. In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. The circumstances were never really resolved and it created widespread media interest in the disappearance of this famous novelist. She was eventually discovered in Harrogate Hotel eleven days later. Though Agatha Christie never said why, it was probably a combination of shock over her mother’s death and the discovery of her husband’s affair. In 1930, she married her second husband, Max Mallowan. This marriage was happier, though her only child, Rosalind Hicks, came from her first marriage.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, was an English writer of crime and romantic novels. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, Christie also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, ‘The Mousetrap’, and six romances under the name ‘Mary Westmacott’. In 1971, she was appointed as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.
Agatha Christie went on to write over 40 novels featuring the proud and immaculate Hercule Poirot. Like Conan Doyle, Christie had no great love for her own creation – Poirot seemed to be admired by the public more than the writer herself.
The plot of Agatha Christie’s novels could be described as formulaic. Murders were committed through ingenious methods – often involving poison, of which Agatha Christie had great knowledge. After interrogating all the main suspects, the detective would bring all the participants into some drawing room before explaining who was the murderer. The psychological suspense of the novels and the fact that, the readers feel they have a good chance of solving the crime, undoubtedly added to the popularity of her books.
During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy of the University College London, which gave her ideas for some methods of her murders. After the war, her books continued to grow in international popularity. In 1952, her play, The Mousetrap, was debuted at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London and has been performed without a break ever since. Her success led to her being honoured in the New Year’s honour list. In 1971 she was appointed as Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Dame Agatha Christie died on 12 January 1976, at age 85 from natural causes at her home in Winterbrook, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. She is buried in the nearby churchyard of St Mary’s, Cholsey, having chosen the plot for their final resting place with her husband Sir Max, some ten years before she died. The simple funeral service was attended by about 20 newspaper and TV reporters, some having travelled from as far away as South America. Thirty wreaths adorned Dame Agatha’s grave, including one from the cast of her long-running play, The Mousetrap, and one sent ‘on behalf of the multitude of grateful readers’ by the Ulverscroft Large Print Book Publishers.
She was survived by her only child, Rosalind Hicks, and only grandson, Mathew Prichard. Her husband, Max, died in 1978, aged 74.
About the Play
The Mousetrap, is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. It was initially performed as a radio play in 1952 and was broadcasted by the BBC with the title ‘Three Blind Mice’. Queen Mary who was a fan of Agatha, commissioned the radio play in 1947. The forty-five minute play was based on a short story. The reaction of the audience was very positive, so Agatha elaborated the script with its first performance on October 6, 1952.
The Mousetrap, became a stage play. The play opened in London, at ‘The Ambassadors Theatre’, on November 25, 1952. Later the play was transferred to St. Martin’s Theatre in London, on March 23, 1974 and is still running there. Since the play has broken several records for its continuous theatrical run, it is estimated that more than four million people had seen the play by the time its twenty-fifth anniversary was celebrated in 1977.
It is safe to speculate that an additional three to four million people have probably sat in the dark and tried to puzzle out the identity of the murderer. After another twenty years, ‘The Mousetrap’ continues to benefit from tourists, both, for its artistic merits and for the joy of being part of a theatrical tradition. Christie signed over the royalties from the play to her grandson at its opening in 1952. It is believed that he has become a multimillionaire from the royalties of this one property alone. The play is known for its twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.
Summary of the Play
The play begins in England, at the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor. Early one winter afternoon, a brutal murder occurs on Culver Street in Paddington. Witnesses heard someone whistling the nursery rhyme, “Three Blind Mice”, just before the victim had screamed. Later that afternoon, in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, Mollie and Giles Ralston prepare for the opening of their guest house, worrying about the effects of the severe snowstorm outside and their own inexperience of their new venture.
Eventually, their four guests arrive. First to enter is Christopher Wren. He is hyperactive and unkempt. Giles instantly dislikes Christopher, whereas Mollie has the opposite reaction. Mrs. Boyle and Major Metcalf arrive next, together in a cab from the station. Mrs. Boyle is a complainer, and Metcalf is a friendly, former military-man. Miss Casewell arrives next, described as a mannish woman.She’s the last of the expected guests, but a fifth person arrives unannounced. In a foreign accent, he introduces himself as Mr. Paravicini. His car, he explains, is trapped in a snow drift, and the storm has the added effect of trapping all the characters in the house as the roads are now unpassable. Mollie is uncomfortable with Mr. Paravicini, but she prepares the house’s final room.
The next afternoon the storm continues to keep the guests trapped at the house. Superintendent Hogben of the Berkshire Police calls and tells Mollie that he’s sending Sergeant Trotter to the house, and that the Ralstons need to listen carefully to what he has to say.Trotter arrives on a pair of skis, and Metcalf discovers that the phone is no longer working.
Trotter is there in regard to the murder. Lyon and her husband had mistreated their three foster children, resulting in the death of the youngest child. Sentenced for the crime, the husband died in jail and Maureen served her sentence. Upon her release, she was strangled to death.Trotter explains that police suspect the oldest boy of the abused children, who would now be twenty-two years old, of being the killer. He further explains that, a notebook found at the scene contained the Manor’s address, along with the words: “Three Blind Mice”. A note reading, “This is the First”, was pinned to the woman’s body. Trotter is there to investigate the connection, and ensure that the people there are safe. When Trotter asks all the guests about their connections to the case, they all deny any knowledge or connections.
The first Act draws to its conclusion as the evening continues. Giles and Mollie become distrusting of each other, and the guests get increasingly short-tempered. Trotter follows the phone wire to find out if it has been cut. Meanwhile, Mrs. Boyle listens to the radio, alone in a room. Someone unseen whistles the opening notes of “Three Blind Mice.” Mrs. Boyle responds without fear, conversing with the person only she can see. Suddenly, the lights go out. The audience can hear a struggle in the darkness. Just then, Mollie walks into the room and turns on the lights. She finds Mrs. Boyle, dead on the floor. In Act II, Mrs. Boyle has been strangled. Trotter has taken over the house, and he tries to understand what’s happened as the rest of the cast sits together in one room.
Mollie is so badly shaken she offers little help, remembering only a radio playing loudly. Trotter is frustrated, and reminds the cast that everyone’s lives are still very much in danger. Each character explains his/her whereabouts at the time of the murder, and Trotter concludes that, any of them could have committed the crime. But, though everyone had opportunity, only one man matches the police description of the suspect: Christopher Wren. Wren denies involvement immediately, claiming to be the victim of a frame-up. Mollie and Trotter later have a private conversation, which reveals that any of the characters possibly could have committed the crime. Mollie even admits to knowing very little about Giles’s past. Then Mollie speaks privately with Wren, who reveals he’s an army deserter on the run, using a false name. Mollie, too, is running from something in her past. Giles and Wren then become suspicious of each other.
Trotter sits for a moment before calling out for Mollie. He explains that he knows Mollie once worked as a schoolteacher for the deceased foster children. She failed to answer a letter from the youngest boy begging for help. Mollie claims she was sick and unable to read the letter before it was too late. She is still haunted by the kids’ death. Trotter reveals a gun, and points it at Mollie. Trotter, is not a policeman, but the oldest of the foster children. He’d faked the phone call himself. He reverts to a childlike state, drops his gun, and begins strangling Mollie. Miss Casewell arrives and calls him by name, revealing that she is his long-lost sister, here to take him to some safe place.
Major Metcalf, who’s arrived with Miss Casewell, then reveals that he’s a policeman himself, working undercover as a result of the “Three Blind Mice” note, and that he’s known all along that Trotter is an imposter. The Mousetrap received lukewarm responses from critics upon its debut. The play, however, achieved massive popularity with audiences, and has been staged, without stop, for over sixty years, making it the longest-running show of any kind in history. It’s a prime example of a twist ending, and members of the audience are asked to not reveal the killer to the awaiting audiences on their way out.
Mollie Ralston is the wife of Giles Ralston. She is a tall, pretty woman in her late twenties. Mollie is the young owner of Monkswell Manor, a Victorian era estate that has recently been converted into a guest house. In earlier years, she had taught at the school that the Corrigan children attended.
Jimmy Corrigan sent her a letter and pleaded with her to help. She fell ill with pneumonia on the very day the letter arrived, she could not see it until weeks later, by the time Jimmy was dead. She is also a suspect in the killing of the other two women who were involved in the tragedy. She went to London secretly, on the day Mrs. Stanning was killed and she is the first one to find the body of Mrs. Boyle.
Giles Ralston is Mollie’s husband. Giles, is the co-host of Monkswell Manor. After three weeks of meeting they both married. Giles past remains a mystery. He wears a coat, scarf, and hat like those seen on the killer. He, made a clandestine trip to London on the day of Mrs. Stanning’s death.
Mrs. Boyle is a large, middle-aged, stern and generally unpleasant woman. She is a guest at Monkswell Manor. She was a former magistrate and unwittingly sent the Corrigan children to Longridge Farm. At the end of the first act she is strangled.
Major Metcalf is a middle-aged, square-shouldered, military in manner and bearing person. He is a typical retired British military officer. He is a guest at Monkswell Manor.
Miss Casewell is a young woman who is masculine in appearance and has a masculine voice. She is another guest at Monkswell Manor. She remains mysteriously aloof from the other guests.
Mr. Paravicini is a foreign, dark, elderly man with a small flamboyant moustache. He is an unexpected guest at Monks well Manor. He is there only because his car got stuck in snowbank during a terrible blizzard.
Detective Sergeant Trotter
Detective Sergeant Trotter is a cheerful, young man posing as a police officer. He is a late arriving guest at Monkswell Manor. He is trying to establish a relationship between any of the guests and a murder already committed at another location.
Act Wise Summary of the Play
ACT I, Scene I.
The play opens with a radio account of a woman murdered in London. The scene opens with darkness and the sounds of someone whistling the tune of ‘’Three Blind Mice.’’ Shouts in the darkness indicate something is amiss, and then we hear police whistles. After that, the lights come up and we hear radio announcer reporting on a recent murder. The scene is the great hall at Monkswell Manor, an old home with a large window in the centre of the stage. There is a fireplace on one side and several doors leading to other parts of the house.
The first character to appear on stage is Mollie Ralston. She turns on the lights, turns off the radio
and removes her coat Next Giles Ralston, her husband enters. The first guest to arrive is Christopher Wren. He praises both the style and décor of the house and is enthusiastic. The second guest to arrive is Mrs. Boyle. She is complaining that a taxi did not meet her at the train., Major Metcalf is the third guest to arrive. He is carrying his luggage when he enters the hall. Mrs. Boyle’s complaints about everything, including the lack of servants.
well is the last of the booked guests to arrive. Mr Paravicini tells the Ralstons his car has overturned in a snowdrift. He remarks that the snow has blocked the roads and that the denizens of the house are trapped. Mobile places him in the last remaining room. Uneasy about Paravicini’s manner.
The next afternoon the guest house proves to be snowed in, and the residents are restless.
Mollie answers the telephone to Superintendent Hogben. Hogben tells her that he is dispatching Sergeant Trotter to the guest house, and that the Ralstons must listen carefully to what Trotter has to tell them. The Ralstons wonder what they could have done to garner police attention.
Trotter appears at the door on a pair of skis and Major Metcalf discovers that the phone has stopped working.
Trotter explains he has been sent in regard
to the murder of Maureen Lyon. The dead woman and her husband had mistreated their three foster children resulting in the death of the youngest. Both adults were imprisoned for their actions; the husband died in gaol, while the wife served her sentence and had been released, only to be found strangled. Police suspect the elder boy of the abused children, who would now be twenty-two, of being the killer.
Trotter reveals that a notebook
found at the murder scene contained the address of Monkswell Manor and the words ‘’Three Blind Mice’’. A note reading ‘’This is the First’’ was pinned to the woman’s body. The Police have sent Trotter to find out how the Ralstons’ guesthouse is connected to the murder, and whether the residents are in danger. Both Giles and Mollie deny a connection to the case, though Mollie is not comfortable answering Trotter’s questions and quickly excuses herself. Trotter asks each of the guest to explain why they are at Monkswell Manor and any personal Knowledge of the case.
Word Meanings :
ACT I, Scene II.
It is now the next day, and the guests are settling in, having decided what they think of each other. Things get really interesting when Monkswell Manor receives a phone call from the Berkshire Police Department. They are sending over a sergeant, although the phone call ends before Mollie can find out why.
While they’re waiting for the sergeant to arrive, Mollie and Mrs. Boyle have a conversation in which we find out that Mrs. Boyle was once a magistrate, or courtroom judge. Paravicini warns Mollie that she should not be too trusting—that people seem to be fine but turn out to be robbers, and even murderers. Mollie announces that the police are coming, which elicits strong reactions from both Major Metcalf and Mr. Paravicini.
While Trotter and Giles tour the house, Major Metcalf confronts Mrs. Boyle, revealing that she was one of the magistrates who had assigned the children to the foster parents. Mrs. Boyle acknowledge this but denies that she has any responsibility for what eventually happened to the children there.
As the evening wears on, Giles and Mollie become suspicious of each other while the guests snipe at one another. Sergeant Trotter traces the phone wire to find out if it has been cut. Mrs. Boyle wanders back into the now-empty room and listens to the radio. The opening notes of ‘’Three Blind Mice’’ are heard whistled by an unknown party, and Mrs. Boyle responds without alarm, speaking to the person only she can see.
Suddenly, the lights go out and a scuffle is heard. Moments later, Mollie walks into the room and turns on the lights, only to find Mrs. Boyle dead on the floor.
Word Meanings :
The act opens with Trotter questioning everyone as to how and when Mrs. Boyle was murdered. As each one replies in turn, Trotter has some sort of doubts and suspicion.
Ten minutes after Mollie found Mrs. Boyle dead, Sergeant Trotter has taken charge of the household. All the remaining residents are gathered in one room as he attempts to sort out the events of the evening. Mollie Ralston cannot provide him with any useful clues. As each person recounts his or her whereabouts, Trotter takes them to account for weaknesses in their stories. Finally, he declares that everyone in the house had the opportunity to commit the murder, since each of them was alone at the time. Giles counters that only one person fits the description of the man the police suspect to be the murderer: Christopher Wren. Wren insists that it is all a frame-up, and Trotter acknowledges that he lacks any evidence pointing to Wren in particular.
Trotter says that while the police suspect the elder boy to be the killer, the relatives, the children’s father, the dead boy’s sister, are suspected to be involved in the murder.
Mollie soon finds that Christopher Wren is actually an Army deserter hiding from his past under a false name. Mollie acknowledges that she, too, is running away from her past.
Trotter again calls all the guests, declaring that he now intends to check the details everyone provided him with after Mrs. Boyle’s murder. Trotter’s hope is that while most of the alibis will be verified, one will be proved impossible. Each person is to go to his or her assigned position and stay there until summoned back by Trotter. The household obediently disperses, leaving Trotter alone on the stage.
Word Meanings :