The Murders in the Rue Morgue
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Murders in the Rue Morgue Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- The title of this story is "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," but the narrator spends nearly the first third of the story on chess players, whist players, and Chantilly the comic/tragic actor. What is the purpose of this long introduction to Dupin's method? What would be the effect of jumping right into the murder plot?
- In explaining his logic for his "tales of ratiocination" (see our "In a Nutshell" section), Poe talks about presenting clues for the reader to reason along with his protagonist. Do we have the clues we need to solve this mystery before the sailor appears to explain all? What is the purpose of presenting so much detail to the reader (e.g., the three spoons of metal d'Alger, the four gold Napoleons, etc.) that will never reappear in the story again?
- In our "Character Analysis" of Dupin, we talk about some reasons why Poe might not spend a lot of time giving insights into Dupin's feelings. What effect does this have on the reader's engagement with the story? Does it make for a satisfying reading experience? How can we compare and contrast Dupin's characterization with later classic detectives like Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot?
- The narrator describes Dupin as a perfect model of the "old philosophy of the Bi-Part soul" (9). The two parts of the soul that the narrator identifies are 1) imaginative or "creative," and 2) rational or "resolvent." Dupin may contain these two parts within his character, but creativity and reason also seem to be split between characters, such as the narrator and Dupin or the Prefect of Police and Dupin. What role do these character foils play in proving the story's point about analytical versus analytical/ingenious minds? How effective is "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" at making the case for ingenuity that it sets out to make?
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