illustration of a wax-sealed envelope with a quill resting beside it

The Purloined Letter

by Edgar Allan Poe

Start Free Trial

What are the similarities between Dupin and Minister D in "The Purloined Letter"?

Quick answer:

Dupin and Minister D in "The Purloined Letter" share similarities in their daring and ingenious nature, ability to empathize and predict others' actions, and their creative thinking. Both are termed as "poets" for their unconventional thinking and understanding of human psychology. They outsmart others by thinking differently, like Minister D leaving the stolen letter in plain sight, knowing the Prefect would search hidden places. Dupin, recognizing Minister D's intelligence, mimics his method to retrieve the letter.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like Dupin, Minister D, who steals the Queen's compromising letter, is a daring and "ingenious" person who is able to put himself in other people's shoes, figure out how they think, and therefore outsmart them. Like Dupin, he is a "poet," one who can think creatively and outside of conventional boundaries through concentrating on an understanding of human psychology.

The Prefect, unlike either Dupin or Minister D, is a "mathematician" who will always apply the same precise and thorough methodology to finding a stolen letter. He would always assume that a stolen letter was carefully hidden from view and therefore would search for it hidden places. Because the letter is so important, he applies his method with extra minuteness, looking everywhere hidden for the letter.

However, as Dupin would have done, Minister D uses his knowledge of human behavior to outwit the Prefect. Anticipating how the Prefect would conduct his search, the Minister left the letter out in plain sight, after replacing its envelope with one very dissimilar to the envelope that was described to the Prefect and that he was looking for.

Dupin realizes that Minister D is very intelligent, just as he himself is, and so manages to think like him by asking himself how a highly intelligent person would hide a letter. He even mimics the way the minister stole the letter from the Queen when he takes the purloined letter from the minister:

It was the minister who gave me the idea of the facsimile, when he stole the original letter. To get the letter back I just did the same thing he did when he stole it. You could even say that between our letters there is a perfect, ahem ... correspondence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial