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The Purloined Letter

by Edgar Allan Poe

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Research the methods that modern-day criminal psychologists use to create a psychological profile. Using these methods, choose one of history's greatest criminals and write a profile about him or her in the modern style.

Research the methods of investigation used by the French police in the 1830s and 1840s, and write a three-page paper describing how their investigative methods do or do not correspond with the types of methods described by Poe in "The Purloined Letter.''

Although Poe was an American, he chose to place his story in France. Research the political, historical, and social climates of both France and America in the 1830s and 1840s, and pose a theory about why Poe may have chosen to set his story in France. Then, write a plot summary for a different version of the story, which takes place in America at the same time.

Compare C. Auguste Dupin to Sam Spade, the famous detective protagonist of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. Write a scene where the two men meet in a modern-day setting. How would they react to contemporary issues and ways of thinking?

In the story, the French police use a microscope as an investigative tool. Research the history of the microscope. Besides police investigations, find five other ways that microscopes have been used in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

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