Captain Hastings is the perfect foil for the great detective Hercule Poirot. He is a guileless and open character who tends to look at the human race through rose coloured spectacles. An upright, honourable man who is exactly what he appears to be.
Hercule Poirot’s loyal sidekick does not feature in all his adventures by any means, but I love it when he does.
Poirot himself tells Hastings, ‘…you have a nature so honest, and a countenance so transparent that – enfin, to conceal your feelings is impossible!’
But although Captain Hastings is a simple man, he is not a stupid one. He, like the reader, sees and hears exactly what Poirot sees and hears but – again like the reader – nearly always draws quite the wrong conclusion.
He takes things at their face value – doesn’t look for hidden agendas as Poirot does, and quite often it is this same uncomplicated outlook that gives Poirot the final piece of the puzzle.
For example, in ‘The ABC Murders’ Poirot wakes Hastings from a nap by tapping him on the shoulder and remarking ‘Mon cher Hastings. My good genius…Always – always you help me – you bring me luck. You inspire me.’
‘How have I inspired you this time?’ Hastings asks.
Poirot replies ‘While I was asking myself certain questions I remembered a remark of yours – a remark absolutely shimmering in its clear vision. Did I not say to you once that you had a genius for stating the obvious. It is the obvious that I have neglected.’
Yes, Captain Hastings is an extremely likeable character, gallant, totally trustworthy and reliable and innocently susceptible to the ladies.
Beauty in distress will always bring out the Knight in Shining Armour in him, and if ever she should prove to be the villain of the piece, he will be saddened and shocked but will be none the wiser for the experience!
When we first meet Hastings in ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles,’ we learn nothing about his background, other than the fact that he has been invalided home from the front.
In fact he tells us that he has no near relations or friends. As with Poirot and Miss Marple, very little baggage comes with Hastings. With all these characters, our knowledge of them grows as we read the books, what happened before is largely irrelevant, or only very rarely referred to.
There is a genuine affection between Hastings and Poirot. Whenever Hastings returns to England from his ranch in Argentina, one of his first actions is to call on his old friend and inevitably he ‘helps’ solve another baffling murder mystery. And to my mind, he adds a very special ingredient to the adventure.
So although he is not always present, I believe that Hastings’s contribution to the success of the Poirot stories should not be underestimated.
Great Clip of Captain Hastings and Hercule Poirot