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The Murders in the Rue Morgue

by Edgar Allan Poe

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How do Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Empty House" relate to the referential world?

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Both “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Adventure of the Empty House” are detective tales that contain extensive references. Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Murders at the Rue Morgue” begins with references to strategic board games and a Latin quote from the poet Ovid, which allude to and foreshadow the roles of logical deductions and other languages in this particular detective story. The short story “The Adventure of the Empty House” was written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This short story likewise contains a great deal of foreshadowing in the themes relating to disguises and illusions. In this story, Sherlock Holmes turns up in a disguise and reveals that he had not died in a previous incident; in a later event in the same story, another character attempts to assassinate Holmes but shoots a mannequin dressed as Holmes instead.

In both short stories, the narrative worlds depicted contain extensive references and allusions. Each set of references provides foreshadowing for how the detective mystery will be unraveled and solved by the main characters. In “The Murders at the Rue Morgue,” the earlier references to strategic games and linguistic differences allude to the later deduction of the murderer being an animal speaking a nonhuman language. In “The Adventure of the Empty House,” Sherlock Holmes appears in disguise to Doctor Watson—a disguise which will later be mirrored when Sherlock Holmes uses a dummy to attract sniper shots. In this way, Holmes can prove attempted murder without needing to risk his own personal well-being.

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