Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 503
It is difficult to approach "The Murders of the Rue Morgue" with a fresh eye because it is such a widely read and frequently dramatized work. Even people who have not read the story or seen a motion picture version are likely to know something of the story, such as an ape being the killer, it takes place in Paris, or it has a brilliant detective. Perhaps a good way to begin would be by clearing away some of the misconceptions people have about the story.
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People are frequently sure that the killer was a gorilla or that Dupin was a police detective. Beyond straightening out the facts of the tale, one may wish to point out that Poe was inventing many of the conventions in the story. He was not writing in an established literary genre — the detective story — because it did not yet exist. This realization can lead to some lively discussion of how Poe put together this early detective tale together by following the principles of good storytelling. In any case, this is a fun work to discuss and most people will be happy they read it.
1. Look carefully at the opening pages of the story and discuss the nature of the "analytical" faculty.
2. Discuss the personalities of Dupin and his companion. How are they alike? How are they different? Is Dupin's personality suited to his amateur detective work?
3. Discuss the method whereby Dupin seems able to read his companion's mind on their stroll through the streets of Paris.
4. Discuss the aspects of the crime, as reported in the newspapers, that 3St puzzle the police. Which ones as repuneu in me new; most puzzle the police, most fascinate Dupin?
5. What is the difference between the way the Paris police work to solve a crime and the way Dupin works?
6. Discuss the means by which Dupin solves the crime by recreating the events as he says they "must" have happened?
7. Why does Poe use an animal as the murderer in the story rather than a human being?
8. Since this story is said to be the first detective story, and the one from which all subsequent detective stories derive, discuss some of the conventions, techniques, and devices introduced here that appear in later detective stories.
9. Poe believes that all good stories are like detective stories, in which the reader serves as a kind of detective, determining the clues and solving the mystery. Compare the action of a reader of a story with a detective as Poe defines him.
10. In another Poe detective story "The Purloined Letter," Dupin says that a successful criminal, as well as a good detective, should combine the mental qualities of the poet and the mathematician. How does Dupin combine these qualities in "Murders in the Rue Morgue"?
11. Discuss the manner in which the story is presented, focusing on its lack of any real action and the fact that most of the story either repeats newspaper stories or is a monologue of Dupin telling how he solved the crime.