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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Purloined Letter

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Close your eyes—well, actually, this isn't going to work if you close your eyes. Instead, leave them open and try to picture the setting of this story. What does the library look like? What does...

Narrator Point of View

"The Purloined Letter" is told in the first person, by an unnamed narrator, who doesn't participate directly in any of the story's major action. This narrator is Dupin's roommate, and he also narra...

Genre

For a story in which nothing much happens, Poe really threw a lot of genres into the pot. Let's check out how they all work together:GothicOkay, this isn't a traditional gothic story, and it's not...

Tone

The narrator of "The Purloined Letter" doesn't give us much to work with. In general, he gives the impression of casually telling us a little story with no embellishment and very little of his own...

Writing Style

Gee, doesn't that make you want to dive right in? Well, sure, the style's a little tricky, but we think there's a reason. Let's check it out:"The Purloined Letter" is styled more like a play than a...

What's Up With the Title?

Okay, not much to work with here—right? "The Purloined Letter." Can't get much more basic than that: the story is about a letter that's been purloined. Case closed.Well, let's see if we can wrest...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

Nil sapientiæ odiosus acumine nimio.—Seneca Nothing is more hateful to the sense than too much cunning. Seneca is the street name of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, The Younger (meaning, junior), an infl...

What's Up With the Ending?

It's a happy ending. A month after G—'s first visit, he comes back to visit Dupin and the narrator. Surprise, surprise: Dupin has managed to find and snatch the letter. G— hands over a check fo...

Tough-o-Meter

No lie: this is a toughie. It's full of lines like "intellects of the vaster capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet...

Plot Analysis

Got My PipeTwo guys sit in the dark, silently smoking. Yep, that's about it. C. Auguste Dupin, private detective, and his roommate, the unnamed narrator, are puffing away in a smoky reverie when G...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Snail MailBooker says that this stage of the Quest plot begins in a "dark city," plagued by "corruption." Hmm. Let's see. We have (1) a royal lady, (2) paying the head of the police to (3) steal a...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

We're in luck. "The Purloined Letter" is neatly divided into three acts. In that respect it follows a classic cinematic structure—or, considering that it was published well before "cinematic" bec...

Trivia

Before the 1850s, letters didn't have separate envelopes. They were folded so the contents of the letter were on the inside, and the address on the outside. (source) Arthur Conan Doyle admitted th...

Steaminess Rating

There's no sex in "The Purloined Letter." In fact, there aren't even any women in it—well, sure, the royal lady, but it's not like she ever shows up. True, there's the hint that she's having an a...

Allusions

Francois de la Rochefoucauld (96)La Bruyère (96)Machiavelli (96)Campanella (96)Jacob Bryant (104)Angelica Catalani (120)
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