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There’s No Way To Really Know Who We Can Trust

Because nothing is what it seems, at least that’s how it is in ‘The Mousetrap’ by Agatha Christie.

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

How much do you really know about someone?

Even if you think you know everything about a person, perhaps they could have lied to you at some point. And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, no one will ever truly know everything about an individual. It just isn’t possible.

Who do you trust then? Can you trust anyone? These were the questions that were constantly going through my mind as I was reading The Mousetrap—a two-act, murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. Published in 1952, it is the longest-running play in London’s West End (from 1952 until 2020, closed due to COVID-19, and re-opened in 2021).

Let’s cue in “Three Blind Mice”, shall we?

The Suspense Is Real

Although we may not know if everything a person tells us is true, there is one thing in The Mousetrap that we do know is real—the suspense.

The story takes place in Monkswell Manor, a new guest house just outside of London. Mollie and Giles Ralston, who have been married for almost a year, take in 5 guests. Meanwhile, news had broke out of a murder that had taken place nearby. Of course, even though Giles was feeling uneasy about the new guests, no one really thought too much of the murder.

West End production of ‘The Mousetrap’ (Source: playbill.com)

That is, until Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives at the guest house. He reveals that the Monkswell Manor has been linked to the murder, as well as the nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice” being an important clue to solving the case.

What Christie does so effectively is creating suspense throughout the entire story. The melody of the nursery rhyme can be heard throughout the play, which brings out an eerie atmosphere. Physical clues provided to the audience regarding the murderer also correspond with the appearances of many of the characters, which adds tension and leaves us feeling unsettled. And with a snowstorm outside, everyone is trapped inside of the guest house and have no means of escaping—a perfect opportunity for the killer to take their next victim, and no one knows when it will happen and whose life will be taken.

The most notable thing about this play, in my opinion, is the diverse array of characters and the complexity of not only their personalities, but their backstories as well. It is clear that every person in Monkswell Manor is keeping their own secrets, intentionally hiding them from one another. As the story develops, we begin to realize that anyone could be the murderer—and anyone could be the victim. Christie has set up the situation and placed the characters in a position that makes the audience (and the characters themselves) doubt everyone in the room. Mollie even begins to wonder if her husband—the person she thought she knew the most—could be the killer. We begin to question everything and everyone we thought we knew.

To Trust Or Not To Trust

So, we’re back to this question: How much do we really know about someone?

This could be an entire essay on its own—a philosophical debate, even. But the truth is that, no matter how much we think we know about a person, we will never really know everything about them.

Even if you learn a lot about a person’s background, considering that they are telling you the truth in the first place, you still wouldn’t know all that there is to know. I mean, you can’t read a person’s mind, right? Who knows what a person is really thinking or feeling in any given moment? The answer is no one, other than the person themself.

Should we trust anyone then? I had built up a lot of doubt while reading The Mousetrap

Although, at the end of the day, is there really a point in being suspicious and worrying about every person you meet? It’s just going to be an added and unnecessary stressor in your life, possible even holding you back from meaningful experiences and relationships with others.

Of course, for your own safety, it’s good to remain cautious about new people you meet and to learn more about the person before you form closer relations with them. But I do believe that there are more people who have good intentions than those that do bad ones. (And for sure, not everyone is a murderer… Well, I hope not.)

Do We Really Know Anything?

Yes, don’t easily trust everyone you meet. Be careful and stay alert. Don’t be easily deceived by others who may want to hurt you.

But, I think the real takeaway from The Mousetrap should be this:

Nothing is what it seems to be.

We don’t really know if what we know is the truth. If you really think of it, we can never really be certain about anything. And we probably don’t know as much about a person as we think—that’s okay, too.

Nothing is what it seems to be, and we will never know really know who is telling the truth and who isn’t. All of that is out of our control.

The important thing is that we are aware of this, and that we don’t jump to conclusions.

What is within our control is how we approach every person and situation—to be open-minded, consider the possibilities, and make an informed judgement.

Because every one of us are living our own lives. We all have stories that are untold, those that have yet to be told—and there are many sides to every story.

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From a theatre student, sharing her thoughts and reflections on the plays she’s reading every week.

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A.X. Bates

A.X. Bates

Words can make a difference. Theatre student writing poems about life, society, and coffee. @axybates on Instagram and Twitter.

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