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Essay/Term paper: Purloined letter

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Edgar Allen Poe

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A Critical Analysis of "The Purloined Letter"

by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe"s background influenced him to write the short story "The

Purloined Letter". One important influence on the story is that Poe seem to feel inferior to

his class mates while in college, which may have been why he wrote Dupin to be seen as

superior to his colleagues. While at the University of Virginia he owed others high

amounts of money because of gambling, he would drink excessively to help hide his

feelings of inadequacy. (Taylor) The second influence on this short story I believe is Poe"s

extent in the United States Army. He time in the military was unsuccessful. Because of his

experience he made the Perfect of the police a little lacking in intelligence. This

background, together with a believable plot, convincing characterization, and important

literary devices, enables Edgar Allan Poe in "The Purloined Letter" to develop the them

that characteristic of the human animal to overlook the obvious.

This story does not have a surprise ending nor does is really have a sense of

suspense. You know from the beginning who took the letter, but you do not know what

information was contained in the letter and how that information would have affect the

queen. The only surprise may be in where the letter was keep throughout the story, in

plain site. The Perfect of the police searched the Minister"s lodgings many nights while

the Minister was out. Looked from every possible angle trying to find the letter, not

succeeding any of those times. After looking the Perfect went to Dupin asking for his help.

He explains what he has already done. After listing to what the Perfect has to say, Dupin

goes to see the Minister. While he is there he looks around. On one of the walls he sees a

tack board on which the letter is tacked. He takes a careful look at it. Excuses himself for

the day. Dupin "forgets" his snuffbox, so he may return the next day with a copy of the

letter and take the real letter and return it to it"s rightful owner. In the fake letter Dupin

lets the Minister know that he knows what is going on between the Minister and the

Queen. The type of conflict face Dupin is that of others. How he interface with the other

characters. He has solved the mystery but has to work around the Minister. While doing

this he seeks revenge for an event that happened in the past.

The protagonist of "The Purloined Letter" is Dupin, the detective. He is right on

the money while talking about how humans over look the most obvious things. That is

how he came to find where the letter was hidden while visiting the Minister. Dupin is

consistent in his behavior. He always acts as if he is better than everyone else that he come

in contact with. The is shown in the way that he tells a story about big and small signs,

which leads to the solving of the not so missing letter. He says that most people over look

the obvious, sense he did not over look it, the letter, he is not the average person. His

motivation is to show that he is better than the average person. He displays that just for

the fact that he is a detective.

One of the many literary devices used by Poe is that of foreshadowing. One place

where that is used is near the beginning where it says "If it is any point requiring

reflection," observed Dupin, as he forbore to enkindle the wick," we shall examine it to

better purpose in the dark." Which implies that the case is so simple that it can be solved

in the dark. He said this before hearing anything about the case or the reason for the visit

from the Perfect of the police. Poe also use humor throughout the short story. ""Perhaps

the mystery is a little to plain," said Dupin ." Saying that the Perfect is not smart and

making the mystery out harder than it actually is.

I believe that the short story "The Purloined Letter" by Edgar Allan Poe is good

story about human nature. How us humans tend to over look the obvious. The way Poe

achieves this taking to types of people and showing how they see the same situation

different ways. Many times you just need to look at the situation from another

perspective.Work Cited

Dameron, J. Lasley and Jacobs, Robert D. "Edgar Allan Poe." American Literary Critics

and Scholars, 1800-1850. Ed. Rathbun, John and Grecu, Monica. Vol 59. Book

Tower. Detroit: Gale pg 257-75

Eliot, T.S. "From Poe To Valery" To Criticize the Critic. Ed. Eliot, TBS. Fairer Giroux.

RPT Nineteenth Century Literatue Criticism. 1948 pg 33-4

Grossvogel, David I. "The Purloined Letter": The Mystery of the Text."

Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. ED Harris, Laurie Lanzen. Vol 77 Book

Tower. Detroit: Gale pg 530-32

Hull, Richard. "The Purloined Letter": Poe"s detective story vs. panoptic Foucauldian

Theory. Style . vol 2. Issue 2 pg. 201

Kasinec, Denise and Onorato, Mary L. Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Vol 55.

Chicago: Gale

Taylor, Richard C. "Edgar Allan Poe" Coloization to the American Renaissance,

1640-1865. Vol 2. Book Tower. Detroit: Gale pg 298-344


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