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Edgar allen poes murders in the rue morgue

"The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

In Edgar Allen Poe's short story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", a

classic detective story is played out in a seedy Paris suburb. The story begins as

the narrator meets Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, a poor but well-read young man.

As they become close friends, they live together in seclusion, departing only

briefly each evening to take introspective strolls along the dark Paris streets.

Soon both the reader and the narrator begin to see Dupin's intimate knowledge

of the human mind, always an underlying element in Poe's prose. Dupin's

extraordinary observances are made by retracing a "course" of human thought

until an endpoint, the thought that is presently in the subject's head, is reached.

With this still fresh in mind, Poe gives us a mystery taken right from the local

Gazette, two recent murders with questionable motives and circumstances, the

search for the murderer has proved futile. Poe's stage is now set. The murders,

of Madame and Mademoiselle L'Espanaye are then related by a series of eleven

eyewitnesses, a diverse mix of occupation and culture. However, they concur on

one point: all heard an indistinguishable voice ("that of a foreigner") and one of

an angered Frenchman at the scene of the crime. As the account of the last

witness is registered, Dupin and the narrator decide to examine the apartment

on the Rue Morgue for themselves. The Sherlock Holmes-like protagonist does

not disappoint us. Dupin assures the narrator that he knows who the culprit is,

and he is indeed awaiting his arrival. After collecting evidence and careful

analysis, Dupin seems to have solved the murder beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The strange circumstances lead Dupin to believe that the perpetrator could not

have been human but of the animal kingdom. He cites an orangutan as the killer,

an escapee from a careless owner. This accounts for the grotesque methods of

murder and the foreign "voice" that is heard at the scene of the crime. The angry

Frenchman witnesses mentioned was the ape's owner, who discovered his pet's

plunder after it was too late. Dupin is correct in his accusation and places an ad

in the Gazette for a found orangutan. The owner comes right to him, and the

mystery is solved.

"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a showcase of Poe's amazing writing

style, and the short story is full of rhetorical devices. Two literary devices that

are evident are Poe's creative use of point of view and gothic setting. "The

Murders in the Rue Morgue" is told in the first person point of view, presumably

Poe's view, acting as a narrator. This point of view provides for a more intimate

relation of the sordid tale, stating, " I often dwelt meditatively upon the old

philosophy of the Bi-Part Soul, and amused myself with the fancy of a double

Dupin-the creative and the resolvent. (p. 4)" Without this personal point of view,

the reader would be oblivious to Dupin's separate personalities. This "up close

and personal" view of Dupin is known because of the first person narration.

Another point of view is also useful. Monsieur Dupin solves the mystery and to

do so, must take on an entirely new point of view, that of the criminal. Using this

technique, Dupin delves into the mind of a careless Frenchman and his pet

orangutan. Poe also incorporates a gothic setting into the story. The gothic

setting is absolute. Located on the Rue Morgue-"Death Street," the title

foreshadows a catastrophe. The murder scene is a grotesque setting complete

with hideously dismembered bodies and severed heads. The Paris suburb of

Faubourg-St.Germain gives the mystery an aura of gloom and sets the stage for

violence. The home of the pair is described as, "...a time-eaten and grotesque

mansion, a style which suited the rather fantastic gloom of our common temper,

long deserted through superstition into which we did not inquire, and tottering to

its fall in a retired and desolate portion of the Faubourg St. Germain. (p.3)" This

description certainly echoes Poe's inclination for gothic setting, and he even

goes so far to use words like grotesque and gloom. Both of these literary devices

help to create an atmosphere of suspense and help further Poe's narrative.

In "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," the reader can tell this is a Romantic

story because of Poe's emphasis on the connection between human imagination

and the natural world and the journey into the complex world of human emotion.

Dupin serves as a predecessor of Sherlock Holmes as he successfully solves a

problem by projecting himself into the thinking process of the criminal. He is able

to collect and sift evidence, to screen the important from the unimportant in the

conflicting testimony of bewildered or dishonest witnesses. Like many Romantic

protagonists, Dupin depends upon his intellect and imagination to produce

success that applies to the natural world. For example, Dupin states, "...that he

failed in the solution of this mystery is by no means that matter for wonder which

he supposes it; for, in truth, our friend the [police chief] is somewhat too cunning

to be profound. In his wisdom is no [underlying principle.] (p. 35)" Here, Dupin

explains that the police chief could not solve the mystery because he did not use

his imagination and emotion to find a connection to the natural world. Unlike

Dupin, the police chief did not seek a natural world solution to a natural world

problem. Poe also reveals a Romantic view as Dupin says, " is not our part as

reasoners, to reject it on account of apparent impossibilities. It is only left for us

to prove that these apparent 'impossibilities' are, in reality, not such.(p. 23)"

Here, Dupin states that the human imagination cannot be limited by improbability

when looking for solutions applying to the natural world, but must consider all

possibilities, however improbable, until proven wrong. In other words,

imagination and emotion should not limit, but guide the natural world. Because

of this apparent connection, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a true reflection

of Romanticism.

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