Agatha Christie, popularly known as “Queen of Mystery or Queen of Crime”, is a best-selling author of detective fiction. She, along with Arthur Conan Doyle, is regarded as one of the chief exponents of Golden Age of Detective Fiction There are many female characters featured in this novel and they play significant role in construction of this masterpiece.
Caroline Sheppard is the sister and roommate of Dr. James Sheppard (at the time, it wasn’t particularly uncommon for adult siblings to live together in English villages, even if they were fairly well-off). She’s an exceptionally gossipy, curious person, and throughout the book most of the comic relief stems from her frantic attempts to learn as much as possible about the case. Although many of Caroline’s instincts are wrong, she’s arguably the character in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd who most perfectly represents the ideal reader of Agatha Christie mysteries: she’s exceptionally curious about the murders and, crucially, she has almost meta-fictional instincts about who is and isn’t guilty.
Mrs. Ackroyd’s daughter, Flora is young, fair, and beautiful. Like her mother, she is burdened by the strain of being financially dependent on her uncle, and longs for freedom from this frustrating reliance. Although she agrees to be engaged to her step-cousin Ralph Paton, she does so because she sees the opportunity for more independence and a new life, not out of love. She claims to have a weak character (particularly with regards to money) just like Ralph, and she claims that an understanding of this mutual weakness brought them together.
Roger Ackroyd’s sister-in-law from marriage to Cecil Ackroyd, Roger’s ne’er-do-well younger brother. As Dr. Sheppard describes her, she’s an exceptionally tiresome woman, who complains constantly and drones on about dull topics. She’s considered a suspect because of her heavy financial dependence on Roger Ackroyd, and her heavy debts, none of which Roger knew about at the time of his death.
Miss Elizabeth Russell
Ackroyd’s housekeeper, Miss Russell is efficient and with a proficiency that renders her intimidating to many of the characters she encounters, even those in a higher social class than she. Although she is reserved to the point of inaccessibility, she ultimately demonstrates emotion when confronted after her son, Charles Kent, faces suspicion for Ackroyd’s murder. Miss Russell distanced herself from her son because she gave birth to him out of wedlock – although she provided for him financially, she refused to acknowledge him publicly for fear of what it would do to her reputation. Her respectability is of the utmost importance to her.
Ursula Bourne/Ursula Paton
Ursula Bourne is a parlormaid in the Roger Ackroyd home, and she’s considered a suspect in Roger’s murder, especially after Hercule Poirot leams that she was dismissed from her position by Ackroyd on the same day Ackroyd was murdered. Toward the end of the book, it’s revealed that Ursula is secretly married to Ralph Paton-a piece of information that seems to make Ursula even more of a suspect in Roger’s murder.
Although she never appears as a living character in the novel, Mrs. Ferrars nonetheless plays an important role in the plot. A nervous woman who, according to Caroline, couldn’t stand her alcoholic husband, she poisoned him in order to escape from his abusiveness. However, the financial strain of being blackmailed for this crime, as well as the guilt over the crime itself, led her to kill herself, but not before asking her close companion Roger Ackroyd to avenge her against the blackmailer.
Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd
Ackroyd’s sister-in-law, she and her daughter Flora came to live at Femly Park after her husband (Ackroyd’s brother) died. Shallow and garrulous, Mrs. Ackroyd is prone to episodes of self-involved drama, and admits to falling into debt in an effort to sustain her upper class lifestyle. She complains of the difficulty of relying financially on her miserly brother-in-law.
The housemaid, Elise Dale is a simple, straightforward girl, and quickly dismissed by Poirot as a potential suspect.
A good friend of Caroline Sheppard, Miss Gannett is, like Caroline, a busybody and town gossip, who adores speculating with Caroline about the crime.
Ursula Bourne’s sister, Mrs. Folliott pretends to be her former employer in order to help Ursula get a job. A kind woman unused to lying, she becomes incredibly uncomfortable when Dr. Sheppard asks her about Ursula.