Summary And Analysis Of “The Mystery Of Marie Rogêt”

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Before going into the details of the play “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” it is pertinent to give a bit of background knowledge about the author and the play.

Edgar Allan Poe is often credited with creating the detective, but we might just as easily say that Poe created the detective. Boston would not establish the nation’s first dedicated professional police detective squad for another five years when “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was originally published in Graham Magazine in 1841.

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 In fact, Poe established one of the most enduring tropes of the genre when he invented the character C. Auguste Dupin to solve mysteries using “ratiocination” or the powers of reasoning: a mystery without an obvious solution is solved by a civilian who is primarily motivated by the thrill and challenge of the puzzle.

But highlighting some of the real-life sources of Poe’s inspiration for his writings does not diminish his vast and macabre imagination. Poe undoubtedly read works by French criminal-turned-informant Eugène Vidocq, who created some of the practises that are most strongly related to the detective profession, like taking a shoe print imprint.

Then there is “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” a play based on a death that captured New York’s attention in the 1840s.

Summary of The Mystery of Marie Rogêt

In New York, Mary Rogers worked in a tiny tobacco shop. This “Beautiful Cigar Girl” was well-known across Manhattan and drew many of fans. Mary left her house early on July 25, 1841, and three days later her body was discovered floating on the Hudson River.

In Paris, Marie Rogêt was a perfume salesperson. Customers flocked to the business as a result of the saleswoman’s famed attractiveness. Marie left her house early on June 22nd, 1841, and her body was discovered in the Seine three days later.

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” is the second in a collection of tales about detective Auguste Dupin. A masterpiece and a wonder, according to Charles Baudelaire. This is the very first true crime story. Poe spent a year and a half trying to figure out what happened to Mary Rogers, the beautiful tobacco girl, when she vanished from the news. He renamed Mary Rogers “Marie Rogêt” and relocated the action from New York to Paris. Although his study is intriguing, Poe was unable to identify the perpetrator. Mary Rogers’s disappearance has never been explained.

Death of a beautiful woman is, undoubtedly, the most poetical issue in the world,” Edgar Allan Poe would remark years later; perhaps this is why the death of “The Beautiful Cigar Girl” sparked so much inquiry, rumour, and theory (not all of it poetic).

There were a lot of unknowns: Is it possible that Mary was murdered by a close friend or relative?

Had she fallen victim to one of New York’s increasingly worrisome “crimes of opportunity,” which have become more prevalent as the city has expanded and young women have become increasingly independent of their parents?

How come neither the New York nor Hoboken police had seen Mary’s assailant?

All three major newspapers—the Herald, the Sun, and the Tribune—featured Mary prominently on their front pages, and no gory detail was spared. The papers published detailed descriptions of Mary’s body, as well as wild speculations about how her killer or killers might have tortured her. They wanted explanations more than anything else.

Mary’s fiance, Daniel Payne, was initially suspected because he may have killed her because she threatened to leave or because he wanted to prevent her from breaking their engagement. In August of 1841, the New-Yorker (not to be confused with the contemporary magazine of the same name) suggested that he had a hand in Mary’s death, despite the fact that he had established an airtight alibi for his whereabouts at the time when she had vanished.

It was hypothesised that Mary would have been apprehended by a group of criminals if Payne hadn’t slain her. Later that August, two Hoboken boys who were out in the woods gathering sassafras for their mother, tavern owner Frederica Loss, came across various pieces of women’s clothes, lending further support to this theory.

The garments had all clearly been there for at least three or four weeks, according to The Herald. All of them had severe mildew on them, and several of them had grass growing around and over them. The petticoat and scarf were tattered, seemingly in conflict. The handkerchief with the initials M.R. stitched on it was the most suggestive item.

The Herald and other publications saw this as proof that strangers had actually taken Mary, but despite weeks of frantic conjecture, no other clues were discovered and no suspects were named. The city changed, and Mary’s narrative faded into obscurity before making a comeback.

However, the public’s fascination in the case ultimately led nowhere, leading to at least a few false admissions.

Analysis of the story

Poe makes direct allusions to Mary Rogers in “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” implying that readers who are already familiar with her case (which was everyone at the time) should reevaluate it in light of a similar incident that occurred in France.

Poe’s fictitious account of a similar event includes all the elements that made the death of the real Mary so intriguing to her contemporaries: a gorgeous shopgirl, a suicidal fiancé, and graphic descriptions of the fake Marie’s injuries.

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Then, Poe’s story provides a backstory to the events leading up to the discovery of the body, which the actual facts of the case do not. From the victim’s clothing arrangement through her transit to the river, C. Auguste Dupin describes every grisly detail of the crime. This has a titillating and instructive result.

Was Poe ultimately successful in solving the mystery? According to the opinions of his contemporaries, “The Mystery of Marie Roget” was not one of his most well-liked works. The “poetical” impact of a beautiful girl’s death and the method of mentally strolling around a crime scene to identify overlooked details were both established in this narrative, making them staples of the detective fiction genre.

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