Though the term detective had not yet been defined, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is the first detective fiction and a continuation of his gothic tales. The amateur investigator C. Auguste Dupin, who appears in this story as well as “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter” is a major inspiration for later detective fiction such as those of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. At a period when people started paying attention to crime and the police started coming up with new ways to investigate it, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” creates a narrative that is uniquely urban and forces its way into the detective’s home. Conventions such as the crime taking place in a closed room, the detective’s dependence on excellent observation, and the usage of a first-person point of view that is not the detective’s are all established and rely on the story’s cohesion.
Summary of The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a detective short story. The narrative is narrated by a young detective who, thanks to his keen intellect, is able to solve a crime. Auguste Dupin is the name of the sleuth. In this case, the narrator and Dupin are pals. After reading about a mother and daughter who were murdered together in the media, they decide to investigate the case. They travel to the police station to see the chief and offer their skills to free a bank teller who was wrongly arrested. But Dupin is convinced of his innocence.
The author thinks highly of Dupin’s ability to reason deductively. They hear about a horrible double murder on the fictitious Parisian street of Rue Morgue while they are there. There has been a horrible murder of two ladies. A neighbour woke up from the noise and called the cops. They heard two different voices as they climbed the stairs: one deep and resonant, the other high and shrill.
The officers entered the room and saw the two bodies. The building has four levels. Everything in that room was annihilated. One of the victims had been stuffed up the chimney, and she had visible injuries on her neck from a battle with her killer. Two bags containing 4,000 Swiss francs in cash were also discovered. The bodies of the other women were also lying on the floor. Mother and daughter were the two people involved. After picking up the mother’s body, they discovered that her skull had been severed from the rest of her skeleton and that her neck had been slashed so deeply that the head had fallen off.
Interestingly, the door is secured, and the windows are sealed from the inside, so there is no way somebody could sneak in or out of the chamber undetected. Both the public and the law enforcement officials are baffled. They are stumped as to how to get started. A bank employee who delivered money to the women a few days ago is arrested on suspicion of theft. When the authorities do not know how to arrest the genuine perpetrator, the first victim is usually an innocent bystander. Same happened to the bank worker.
The authorities have little hope ofsolving the case. In contrast, Dupin is well equipped for it. Evidence such as the killer’s animal-like strength, brutality, speed, and lack of motivation, as well as the victim’s finger prints, lead him to conclude that the perpetrator is not a human but a “Orangutan” ( a species of apes found in southeast Asia).
The police do not believe him, so he puts an ad in the paper to track down the Orangutan’s owner and prove his theory. The owner responds to the ad by coming to Dupin’s house to retrieve his animal, whereupon Dupin requests that he tell him the truth before he returns the pet.
The owner is honest with him. He tells him that the monkey got out of its cage and began playing with the owner’s shaving equipment while the owner was away. When the owner went to get it, the pet leaped out of the window in fear. The owner gave it a chase. The ape climbed a lightning pole and entered the residence through an open window after spotting light four stories up. He pretended to shave the woman while holding her in his arms. It was scared off by the women’s screams, and it killed both of them viciously. It escaped via a broken window.
Dupin was able to free the wrongly accused man by using the owner’s confession as evidence. The animal was captured by the owner, who then sold it. The police chief was jealous of Dupin because he had used his wits and intelligence to solve a case that the police had been unable to solve.
Analysis of The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Basic features of detective fiction in the story
The “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” includes more fundamental elements of detective fiction than any of Poe’s previous short stories because it was his first ratiocination. These fundamental characteristics include three key concepts:
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The first one is that the murder takes place in a sealed space with no obvious exit. When the murder occurs in a closed environment, such as on a train where the murderer is among the passengers, an island where the murderer must logically still be, or an estate where the murderer must be among the residents, this idea is expanded in later detective fiction, though it is essentially retained.
Secondly, motive, and other circumstantial evidence all lead to an innocent party. The amateur investigator is frequently involved in the investigation because a buddy or acquaintance has been wrongly accused in detective fiction. As a result of a duty to the accused, M. Dupin is brought into the case.
Thridly, to arrive at the solution, the investigator employs some form of novel strategy. The beauty of detective fiction is in the unexpected conclusion, which only makes sense in hindsight, despite our earlier observation that all the evidence should be present.
Two modern Aphorism concerning detective story has been employed by Poe
This story marks the debut of two aphorisms of Poe’s that apply to modern detective fiction. In the first place, the truth is what is left once the impossible has been established, regardless of how improbable that fact may be. To put it another way, the police conclude or assume that the room where the women were murdered had no means of escape. Everything was locked: the door, the windows, and the locks on the doors. Secondly, the case seeming difficulty and unusualness actually make it easier for the crucial detective to crack.
For instance, the police are at a loss because they cannot fathom how a nonrational, inhuman entity could violate the norms of society by murdering two women who were under no threat. The house is constructed in such a way that it is immune to the very atrocities which were perpetrated there, and the police simply cannot bring themselves to conclude that a “human” could possibly do this. Only by bringing one’s human mind into harmony with a non-human mind and the irrational deeds of a beast can the murders be solved.
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As a result, the intuitive and intelligent detective stands head and shoulders above the police, who are unable to see the big picture or consider all of the options and probabilities at a crime scene.