Why don't the English women enjoy recieving compliments?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In an early scene of Agatha Christie’s hit play, The Mousetrap, the quirky young man Christopher Wren is the first guest to arrive at a newly opened guesthouse called Monkswell Manor. The guesthouse is run by a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston. As they are becoming acquainted, Christopher compliments Mollie and goes on to voice an opinion about English women:

CHRISTOPHER: I think I’m going to like it here. I find your wife most sympathetic.

GILES: Indeed.

CHRISTOPHER: And really quite beautiful.

MOLLIE: Oh, don’t be absurd.

CHRISTOPHER: There, isn’t that like an English woman? Compliments always embarrass them. European women take compliments as a matter of course, but English women have all the feminine spirit crushed out of them by their husbands. There’s something very boorish about English husbands.

Christopher likely means what he is saying about English women not taking compliments and their husbands being boorish. Whether or not Agatha Christie agrees in unknown. She was certainly using Christopher’s lack of social awareness for comedic effect. It is funny that Christopher is calling all English husbands boorish right in from of Giles, Mollie’s own English husband. It also sets up Mollie and Christopher as being on the same side, with her husband perhaps on the outs. Later in the play, as the relationship between Giles and Mollie is tested and the true identity of Christopher Wren is called into question, early comedic moments like this one have already sowed the seeds of doubt.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial