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Edgar allen poes the murders in the rue morgue

Edgar Allen Poe's: "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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