The Purloined Letter (Annotated Edition)

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He knows that, because the minister has fooled the Prefect , he has the abilities of a poet as well as a mathematician, and understood everything that the police were likely to do in response to his crime. We are made aware that Dupin could probably quite easily commit some crimes himself.

Dupin reminds the narrator of "The Purloined Letter" what he said to the prefect when he visited, about the riddle being too self-evident. He believes that the material world and the metaphorical world are strongly connected. He uses two examples. The first is the principle of inertia being the equal in physics and metaphysics. The second is a game where one player asks another player to find a name on a map, and the clever player will choose an overarching county name or some other broad term that is stretched across the map or placed high up on a sign.

Most people expect that the many-lettered, or obscure names will be most difficult to find, but it is often the simplest answer that can be overlooked, just like the case of the purloined letter. Dupin displays his skill in this speech.


He shows us how he is able to consider deep concepts and human observations at the same time, and consider many dimensions and levels of meaning at once. While thinking of the academic realm of metaphysics, he also conjures a simple image of a map and the visual effect of the important names of counties and so on being spread across the terrain.

The Purloined Letter

Even the most obvious deception fools the police. In fact, the best way to fool them is not to hide anything, to expose the crime completely. This makes the police force seem laughable and Dupin, with his own agenda, takes the lead by himself. Dupin knew this was the famous letter, even though it differed so radically from the one the Prefect described.

In fact, it looked so much like a deliberate ploy to mislead, that Dupin was sure that the Minister had fashioned it to dupe the police, whose methods he knew to be both shallow and thorough enough to overlook such a clue. The police searched for months on end, every chair rung and bed sheet, while Dupin enters the room and within an hour or so spots the letter.

It furthers the notion that they are rivals or in fact doubles. During this second visit, their conversation is interrupted by the sound of a pistol shot and frightened voices, which of course draws the Minister to the window. Dupin takes his opportunity to take the letter and replace it with a replica he had prepared. He explains that he had planted the gunman outside to create a distraction for just this purpose.

Dupin uses indirection to trick the Minister, who was himself a master of indirection. Dupin bests his rival. The narrator of "The Purloined Letter" is unclear why Dupin replaced the letter, rather than just stealing it. Dupin explains that the Minister is a bold man with a lot of support around him, so he may have killed him if he learned the truth.

Project MUSE - Poe's Dupin as Professional, The Dupin Stories as Serial Text

Editorial Reviews. Review. "That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who had a The Purloined Letter (Annotated Edition) Kindle Edition. by. Editorial Reviews. Review. "That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who had a The Purloined Letter (Annotated) Kindle Edition. by.

Also, Dupin is eager to get revenge for the royal lady , by transferring the political power to her — this can only be done if the Minister is unaware that he no longer possesses it. His goal is not so much justice as it is a quest for revenge and success. It is difficult to sort him into a category of good or bad. Not all people think the same way.

It's important to take into consideration the personality and intelligence of the person hiding the evidence. In this case Dupin knew that the Minister is a poet and a mathematician. Usually, mathematicians are known for their logic, but the Minister's poetic side went beyond the logical. The Minister anticipated the methods of the police, and therefore did not hide the letter anywhere he knew they would look.

Instead he decided to use subterfuge and hide the letter in plain sight where he knew the police wouldn't see it. He took the letter and folded and crumpled it to such a degree that it looked old and worn. Then he turned it inside out to disguise its contents and seal. Dupin spotted it in a card holder when he first paid a visit to the Minster, thinking that he would have disguised the letter in such a manner.

During this visit, Dupin purposely left his snuffbox behind so that he would have an excuse to return. The next day when he returned to claim the snuffbox, Dupin had arranged for a man to make a commotion outside the window by shooting off a gun, causing people to scream. When the Minister heard the disturbance, he rushed to the window to look out, and Dupin took the opportunity to take the stolen letter and replace it with a fake one that he had created to resemble the first.

The story skips ahead a month. The Prefect is still searching for the letter. The emphasis is on talk—analysis—not action. Is this satisfying?

Thirty-Two Stories

Is it anticlimactic? Is it central to the plot? Why are the references to mathematicians and poets included? What is their relevance to the story? Related Papers. The influence of duality and Poe's notion of the 'bi-part soul'on the genesis of detective fiction in the Nineteenth-Century.

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By john gruesser. By Eva Burke. Each volume is enriched with Mabbott's detailed and authoritative notes on sources, the history and collation of all known texts authorized by Poe, and variants of Poe's "final" version. Specialists will relish the rich headnotes, the complete rescension including variorum footnotes of the text, and the illuminating notes; the general reader will welcome the critical introductions, the readable page and attractive format, and the incisive commentary. University of Illinois Press. Shopping Cart.

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