Experimenting with many different fictional forms, such as the gothic tale, science fiction, occult fantasies, and satire, Poe gained great recognition in the early 1840’s for his creation of a genre that has grown in popularity ever since: the so-called tale of ratiocination, or detective story, which features an amateur sleuth who, by superior deductive abilities, outsmarts criminals and outclasses the police. Such stories as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget” created a small sensation in the United States when they were first published. “The Purloined Letter,” the third and final story in the Dupin series, has been the subject of much critical analysis as a model of ironic and tightly structured plot.
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is the most popular of the three because it combines horrifying, inexplicable events with astonishing feats of deductive reasoning. The narrator, the forerunner of Dr. Watson of the Sherlock Holmes stories, meets Auguste Dupin in this story and very early recognizes that he has a double personality, a bi-part soul, for he is both wildly imaginative and coldly analytical. The reader’s first encounter with Dupin’s deductive ability takes place when Dupin seems to read his companion’s mind, responding to something that the narrator has only been thinking. Dupin, as he explains the elaborate method whereby he followed the narrator’s thought processes by noticing small...
(The entire section is 441 words.)