Agatha Christie, who was greatly influenced by the works of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, introduced one character called ‘Captain Arthur Hastings’ in her works in accordance with the model of Sherlock Holmes’s close associate Dr. John H. Watson. She even named this character as ‘Arthur’ after the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Christie depicted Hastings as a close friend of his famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Despite the fact that Hastings is present in almost all the short stories featuring Poirot, he appears as a character in only eight of the Poirot novels.
Captain Hastings of Agatha Christie is too similar to Dr. Watson of Sir Doyle. In fact, almost for point to point, these two characters are same. Read the following points and you will come to know what I am trying to say.
- While Dr. Watson is a companion-chronicler of Sherlock Holmes, Captain Arthur Hastings is a companion-chronicler of Hercule Poirot.
- Both narrate in the first person and both stand as a form of surrogate for the reader.
- Both not only have military backgrounds, but also have been injured in war.
- Both of them assist their detective friends in fieldwork. And, in doing so, both of them sometimes take the law in their own hands.
- Both are incapable to conceal or disguise one’s true feelings and hence cannot be always trusted with the truth.
- Both are exceedingly vulnerable to female beauty.
- While both see what their more shrewd friends observe, neither of them can read between the lines. In other words, neither of them can correctly interpret the evidence before them.
- Both are valued for their imaginative approaches to the cases. However, at the same time, both are gently mocked by their astute friends.
- Both are sometimes get annoyed at their detective friends for keeping them in dark or not telling them all, but can never stay annoyed for long.
(Image Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Poirot-with-Hastings)
So, you see both Captain Arthur Hastings and Dr. Watson are one and the same. The similarity in both these cases is only too obvious to miss. And, you will think that the only difference is in their names. However, it is not the case. There are some noticeable differences between Hastings and Watson. Christie’s Hastings has been depicted as being less perceptive and more comic. Dr. Watson, on the other hand, is both more learned and wise. Though both have a soft corner for women, Watson would not go and propose a woman he hardly knows. While both Watson and Hastings have a military background, their line of work is different. Watson worked as a doctor in the army and Hastings worked as an officer.
Sherlock Holmes with Dr. Watson
Poirot in general prefers to keep Hastings in the dark, but Holmes does not do that as much as Poirot does. This shows that while Hastings was not getting any sort of respect from Poirot, Holmes had a certain degree of respect for Dr. Watson. Hastings, in fact, was more like a sidekick to Poirot and not a partner. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, Captain Hastings appears only in eight Poirot novels, while Dr. Watson appears in all but four novels. It indicates that either ‘the queen of mystery’ got bored with the character of Hastings or his character did not serve any literary purpose for her.
As for physical characteristics, we do not know much about Captain Hastings. However, we know that he, like Hercule Poirot, has a moustache. Dr. Watson, on the other hand, has been well described. He is a strongly built person with a thick, strong neck and a small moustache.
I will certainly go for Dr. Watson if I have to choose between Dr. Watson and Captain Hastings. Although I am not a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I love the character of Dr. Watson. His character is certainly more likable than Hastings. So, who is your favorite? Is it Dr. Watson or Captain Hastings?
Wait till next time to read my comparison of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.
This post is a part of ‘Agatha Christie Reading Challenge‘