The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Metaphors and Similes

Cats (Simile)

“Butlers can creep about as soft footed as cats.” (p. 65)

With this simile, Inspector Davis refers to Parker, Mr. Ackroyd’s butler. After investigating the crime scene, Davis is convinced that Parker killed Ackroyd. In comparing Parker (and all Butlers) to cats, he attempts to explain how easily Parker could have snuck up on Ackroyd from behind and killed him. Inspector Davis believes that all butlers have the ability to remain unnoticed and undetected in a household. While normally considered a good quality for a butler, in this case, Davis uses this as evidence that Parker could have easily committed murder without Ackroyd knowing about the ambush.

Methuselah (Metaphor)

"How does it feel to be Methuselah?” (p. 102)

Here, Flora teases Major Blunt about his age. He mentions that he never talked much, even when he was young, and she replies that he must have been young a very long time ago. Then, she compares him to Methuselah in metaphor - Methuselah is a figure from the Bible reported to have lived to 969 years old – longer than any other human being.

Games (Metaphor)

“One move in the game seemed now to be concluded” (p. 157)

In this quote, Dr. Sheppard compares his interactions with Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd to a game. He has been called to her, and they both secretly know that she intends to confess what she was hiding from Poirot. However, Mrs. Ackroyd’s reluctance to confess her secret, as well as her insistence on long-windedness, keep her from confessing to Dr. Sheppard outright. Instead, she feigns illness, forcing him to go through the motions of treating her so that she can justify calling him to her for medical reasons, rather than to give a confession. For Dr. Sheppard, these unnecessary steps are a “game” that must be concluded before Mrs. Ackroyd will arrive at her true purpose.

Wildfire (Simile)

The fact was by now spreading through King’s Abbott like wildfire.” (p. 189)

After Dr. Sheppard impulsively shares Poirot’s discovery of the wedding ring with Caroline, Miss Gannett and Colonel Carter during their Mah Jong game, he immediately regrets it. As he realizes, gossip spreads quickly in King’s Abbott. He uses the simile above to compare the dissemination of the wedding ring fact to wildfire, a large, destructive fire known for spreading quickly over woodland or bush. Dr. Sheppard worries about the danger of sharing this fact, which also makes this a well-used simile: like wildfire, this fact could be destructive, particularly for Poirot. (Although as Dr. Sheppard later learns, Poirot doesn’t mind at all that he told his sister and friends about the ring.)

Bombshell (Simile)

“On Ursula, the news fell like a bombshell.” (p. 247)

Here, Dr. Sheppard recounts the story of Ursula and Ralph Paton’s love affair. He explains how the news that Ralph was engaged to Flora Ackroyd completely devastated Ursula. She was already married to Ralph, so it is no surprise that this news was so upsetting. The simile effectively compares Ursula’s reaction to this news to a bomb being dropped onto her world.