Linda Arden is one of the main characters in Murder on the Orient Express. On board the train, she masquerades as a woman named Caroline Martha Hubbard. In the 1974 movie, she uses the alias Harriet Belinda Hubbard.
Arden is probably a stage name. She was married to a man named Goldenberg and was the mother of Sonia Armstrong and Helena Andrenyi, and the grandmother of Daisy Armstrong. After Sonia and Daisy's deaths courtesy of the gangster Lanfranco Cassetti, Arden planned out Cassetti's murder. 5 years later, on the Orient Express, she brought together the friends, former staff, and extended relatives of the Armstrong Family and their maid Susanne to avenge the deaths that Cassetti caused.
Caroline Hubbard, Linda Arden's disguise, is a flirty lady who is very old and fragile. Linda Arden is the exact opposite: Arden is a very angry and hurt lady, but is also a lady who can change.
Hubbard has been portrayed on screen by various actresses, including Lauren Bacall, Meredith Baxter, Barbara Hershey, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Portrayals
- 3 Physical Description
- 4 Research notes
Biography[edit | edit source]
Linda Arden was a noted actress, regarded by admirers such as her friend the Princess Dragomiroff as "one of the greatest tragic actresses in the world". Poirot himself thought she was "the most famous tragic American actress of her day". She was noted for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Rosalind in As You Like It and Magda in Sudermann's Heimat. Poirot conjectured that her stage name could have come from As You Like It as that was set in the forest of Arden, with the Linda being inspired by "Rosalind".
At some point in her career, Linda married a man named Goldenberg (his first name is not given in the book) and bore him two daughters: Sonia and Helena. Linda's good friend the Princess Dragomiroff became the godmother of Sonia.
Daisy Armstrong's Kidnapping[edit | edit source]
When Daisy was about three, she was kidnapped and subsequently murdered by a gangster named Lanfranco Cassetti. The ransom of $200,000 was paid but then the dead body of Daisy Armstrong was discovered, having been dead at least a fortnight.
Sonia Armstrong, who was pregnant with another child, went into premature labor, which turned out to be fatal for both her and the child she was pregnant with. John Armstrong committed suicide as a result. The family nursemaid Susanne was implicated and suspect of being involved in the crime and committed suicide before she was exonerated.
Cassetti was arrested about 6 months later, and tried in New York but was acquitted on a technicality due to his wealth and influence. Linda Arden then set about gathering a group of interested parties to bring Cassetti to justice. An elaborate plan based on an idea of family chauffeur Antonio Foscarelli was devised. A fellow member of the group, private detective Cyrus Hardman was assigned to locate Cassetti, who had adopted the alias of Samuel Edward Ratchett. Subsequently two other members of the group infiltrated Ratchett's personal staff. Edward Masterman, the family butler became Ratchett's valet. Hector MacQueen, the son of the prosecuting D.A. became Ratchett's secretary.
The Orient Express[edit | edit source]
MacQueen's duties gave him insight and influence over Ratchett's travel plans. Ratchett travelled frequently between Europe and the Middle-East as an art connoisseur and collector. MacQueen was able to choose a specific journey of the Orient Express from Istanbul where Pierre Michel, father of Susanne and fellow group member would be the train conductor on board.
The other members of Linda's group then boarded the train having booked compartments on the Istanbul-Calais coach on which Ratchett himself was travelling. The plan was for the group to jointly stab a heavily sedated Ratchett in turn. Colonel Arbuthnot, a friend of the Armstrongs observed that the members of the group numbered 12 and formed a symbolic jury--in his opinion a sound system of justice.
During the journey Linda Arden travelled as Mrs Caroline Martha Hubbard. She was ostensibly travelling back to America after visiting her daughter and son-in-law who were on the staff of a big American college in Smyrna, Turkey. She occupied compartment 3 which had a connecting door with Ratchett's compartment. The unexpected presence of Poirot on the train required the group deivse various misdirections for his benefit. Linda, in particular, created a commotion around 1.15 a.m. insisting that there was someone in her compartment. Some time later she joined the other members of the group to stab Ratchett in turn.
After the murder, Linda also produced a sham Oriental dagger and a train conductor's uniform button as possible clues. She said that she found the dagger in her sponge bag which had been hanging on the handle of the connecting door with Ratchett's compartment.
Poirot in investigating the killing, subsequently surmised Mrs Hubbard's true identity as the mother of Sonia Armstrong and grandmother of Daisy. He said that "to play the part she played--the perfectly natural, slightly ridiculous American fond mother--an artist was needed." An artist was in the Armstrong family in the person of Linda Arden. During the denouement, Linda offered to take the blame for everyone else, saying that she "would have stabbed that man twelve times willingly." It was, she pleaded, unnecessary to bring all the others into it.
Portrayals[edit | edit source]
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)[edit | edit source]
In the 1974 film, she is played by Lauren Bacall. In this adaptation, she goes by the name Harriet Belinda Hubbard. In addition to Broadway, Arden also performed in the West End Theatre in London. Hercule Poirot later mentions that he saw 2 performances of Macbeth that she was in while he was in London.
In the murder scene, she is the first person to stab Ratchett, saying it is for her daughter and graddaughter. She then passes the dagger to Colonel Arbuthnot.
Murder on the Orient Express (2001)[edit | edit source]
In the 2001 TV film adaptation her name is also Mrs Caroline Hubbard and she is played by Meredith Baxter. Here she is also an actress, with a recurring role as a fitness instructor "Carlotta" in the sitcom "Phil and Phyllis". She had gone to Turkey to act in a mini-series "Samson and Delilah" but her role as "evil high priestess" had been changed to a "evil high priest" so she decided to return via the Orient Express. As in the novel she complains about a man in her compartment and finds a button from the uniform of an Orient Express conductor. She does not however find a dagger yet. This she finds later, inside her toiletries bag. Although she did not tell Poirot, he later surmises that she was Linda Arden, the mother of Sonia Armstrong.
At the end of the show, Poirot in a voiceover said that Caroline Hubbard went on to perform in Salt Lake City at a dinner theatre production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap.
Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (2006)[edit | edit source]
In the 2006 video game, Linda Arden's travelling name reverts to Caroline Martha Hubbard. She is voiced by Lisa Long. In this adaptation, her passport gives her place of birth as Great Neck, Long Island, New York but her date of birth and occupation are not listed.
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)[edit | edit source]
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)[edit | edit source]
In the 2017 film, Hubbard is played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
Hubbard is introduced when Poirot is boarding the Simplon-Orient Express, and almost walks into her. As Poirot walks to MacQueen's compartment, where he is bunking for the night, Hubbard strikes up a conversation with him, explaining that she is travelling home and has been accused of "husband-hunting" while abroad. She tries not to deny it, even saying that she enjoys her time alone, but also says that her certain needs have to be met if she has any money. She then diverts her attention to a flame burst from the oven in the kitchen.
Hubbard is later seen walking towards her compartment, and greeted by Ratchett. Ratchett attempts to flirt with her, but she dismisses his attempts, saying that she is disappointed in most men, and that all they have to do is keep their mouth shut and she would their's, but since they don't, she disapproves. Ratchett leans in towards her, possibly to kiss her, but then turns around and enters his compartment.
Poirot then appears from his compartment, asking if everything is okay, before telling Hubbard that she has a strong intuition. Hubbard tells him that her third husband said the exact same thing, and even though he had a turnip-like face, he was the brightest man she ever knew. Poirot then enters his compartment, and Hubbard wishes him a good night before entering her own.
Hubbard is seen the next day, drinking an apéritif in the dining car.
Later that night, the train is knocked off the rails by a sudden avalanche. Hubbard is among those who asks if they are all going to die.
The next morning, Bouc gathers everyone together and tells them that the Brod Station will have been informed of their disappearance and will have sent someone to find them, and hopefully clear the wreckage. As the passengers explain their purpose on board the train, Hubbard says that her boat sails from France in 2 days.
When Poirot arrives and announces Ratchett's death, Hubbard claims that someone was rummaging around in her cabin, and that when she told them, nobody believed her. Poirot claims that, for their safety, they should remain inside with the doors locked, and Hubbard responds that she feels like a prisoner.
After Poirot finds out who Ratchett really was - the gangster John Cassetti - Mrs. Hubbard calls for Poirot and tells him that the murderer was in her compartment last night. When she told Pierre, he wouldn't believe her, so she made him check the communication door between her compartment and Ratchett's compartment; it was unbolted, and had been previously locked. Poirot tells Hubbard that Ratchett was responsible for kidnapping and killing a little girl named Daisy Armstrong. Hubbard is shocked by the discovery, and presents evidence to the detectives: a button from the jacket of a Wagons-Lits Conductor of the Orient Express, which was at the foot of her bed, and wasn't there before.
As Poirot interviews MacQueen with intensity, they hear Hubbard screaming, and Poirot, Bouc, and Dr. Arbuthnot rush into Hubbard's compartment to find her on the ground with a fake Oriental dagger with a long, straight-edged 2.3-inch blade in between her shoulder blades. She claims that someone kicked the door open and covered her face while they stabbed her. Arbuthnot carefully pulls the knife out and gives it to Poirot, whom Hubbard criticizes for his harsh treatment towards MacQueen.
Poirot then gathers the passengers together to reveal who the murderer is. After identifying who they were and what purpose they served to the Armstrong Family, Poirot finishes with Mrs. Hubbard, revealed to be Linda Arden: Daisy Armstrong's grandmother, and Sonia Armstrong's mother. Arden had turned to direction, and was on her way to being the first female Broadway titan when the kidnapping happened and forced her to retire.
Poirot concludes that they all committed Cassetti's murder as revenge for Daisy's death: Arden was the mastermind. She had Hardman track down Cassetti, and arranged MacQueen and Masterman to be hired by Cassetti. Then, after MacQueen had made sure that Ratchett was travelling on the same train they would all be travelling, Arden gathered everyone together to stab Ratchett to death. When Pierre knocked on Ratchett's door after Arden broke Ratchett's watch, Arden responded in whispered French.
Arden begs Poirot to blame her if he were to tell the police, as she was the mastermind, and everyone else has a chance at a normal life now. Poirot claims that, in order for them to go free, they have to kill him because he can't lie to the police. As he does this, he sets down Hardman's revolver, which he had confiscated. Arden takes the gun, but then puts it to her jaw and pulls the trigger, but nothing comes out: Poirot was testing them to see how they would react, and had emptied the gun.
Arden is not seen again, but goes free with the rest of the group.
Physical Description[edit | edit source]
In the novel, Arden is a stout, pleasant-faced, elderly woman, with a soft, rich, dreamy voice.
- As Hubbard, her voice is low and monotone.
She has two dressing gowns: one of pink flannel, and one of purple silk that her daughter gave her.
- In the 2017 film, Hubbard is in her 40s, has blonde hair (a wig), grey eyes, pale skin, bracelets on her wrists, rings on her fingers, wine-colored nail polish, and a voluptuous frame.
- Arden's hair is dark brown, greying, and shoulder-length.
- Her main attire is a houndstooth suit jacket with inset fur sleeves, a Missoni print knit neck scarf, pegged tweed pants, and rugged Austrian lace-up hiking boots.
- In one scene, she wears a plum jewel-toned bias-cut dressing gown with a fur stole, a magenta rose brooch and plum high heels.
- In her opening scene, she wears a pink bouclé coat, a grey scarf tied in a knot, two beaded necklaces, a ruffled grey plaid belted suit jacket and matching calf-length skirt, and beige-and-black spectator heels.
- In the dining car scene, she wears a dark burgundy and magenta colored dress with Syrian embroidery on it, and dark burgundy high heels.
Research notes[edit | edit source]
- Arden is Jewish.
- Arden is a hematophobe, someone who is afraid of the sight of blood.
- Despite this, she organizes Ratchett's death and also stabs Ratchett.
- In the script for the 2017 film, Arden had 3 husbands instead of 2. All of her husbands are dead.
- Her third one, Robert, was Jewish, with a turnip-like face and delicate skin. He wore the softest cotton shirts imaginable, and Arden actually made a handkerchief from one of his shirts after his death.
- Also according to the script of the 2017 film, Arden lives in California.