The Purloined Letter
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Purloined Letter Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Why does everyone in the story seem so uninterested in what the letter actually contains? Is there any good reason to assume that the scandal is sexual in nature?
- What kind of practical advice does the story seem to offer about reason, logic, and emotion? Does it really seem to be recommending the approach of a combined poet and mathematician?
- How truthful is the narrator? At what moments in the story might he seem less than truthful? From what motivations does he appear to be operating?
- What role does imagination play in the story? At what point do characters appear to be using (or misusing) their imaginations?
- What effect does Poe appear to achieve by telling the story using primarily dialogue instead of action? Why might he choose to tell the story in such a way?
- Why are the characters not fully developed? Are they supposed to be real characters, or are they simply talking heads that Poe is using to develop ideas?
- What elements of this story seem similar to Poe's usual murder-and-mayhem style? Can we call this horror or gothic, or is it pure detection? How could the two genres be related?
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