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Poe: Murders At The Rue Morgue Essay, Research Paper
“Murders at the Rue Morgue” displays distaste for nationality, logic over emotion,
and no focus on the self.
Poe’s story shows lack of patriotism, indifference to foreigners, and respect
for authority. Patriotism is prevalent in many Romantic authors works. The most
famous is a poem called Old Ironsides, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, poem is about a
ship in the War of 1812. This poem created an outcry from it’s readers that helped
salvage the ship. However, Poe took no consideration to his country when he
penned “Murders at the Rue Morgue.” An obvious reason why this story shows a
lack of patriotism is that Poe, an American author, sets this story in France. He
makes no reference to America and provides nothing in which his native readers can
relate. There was an indifference to foreigners in this French town, and another
thing in which most Americans could not relate. While inquiring about the murder,
the witnesses are from different nations. There is an unimportance toward this fact.
Nothing is said if a nation is better than the other, and there is no appreciation for
democracy, something American’s have grown to love. It does prove to be silly when
the witnesses want to identify the murder’s nationality and name accents they have
never heard in their life. There is lack of respect for the national authority. The
narrator and Dupin go back to the scene of the crime to see if there is anything they
can uncover. This alone shows that they distrust the police and do not think they are
doing their job adequately. When the narrator finds a key piece of evidence; “(the
evidence)… being so, they (murderer) could not have refastened the sashes from the
inside… the consideration… was put to a stop… to the scrutiny of the police in this
quarter” (Poe 157). This delicately implies the incompetence of the police
“Rue Morgue” uses logic throughout the story with little set aside for emotion
as opposed to other Romantic works that highlight the importance of feeling. Almost
all the poetry from the Romantic Period has great emphasis on emotion. In William
Cullen Bryant’s Thanatopsis, the poem works to console the human fears of dying and
what happens to their body. In complete contrast Poe, writes about two innocent
women that have been brutally murdered, and no one is emotionally attached to the
deaths. The people who knew the women have their comments, which are
meaningless gossip, posted in the newspaper . Their laundress states, “(I) Believed
that Madame L. told fortunes… reputed to have money…(and) there was no
furniture in any part of the building except the fourth floor” (Poe 148). The first
witnesses lack emotion when describing how the victims were found. As well, the
graphic display of a termination of human life shows that emotion is not a key factor.
The description of the corpses of the women are very brief and factual. Even when
the question arises to whether Madam L’Espanye was the murderer there is no focus
on what would have driven her to such a brutal crime. Instead it is factually stated,
“… the strength of Madam L’Espanye would have been utterly unequal to the task of
thrusting her daughter’s corpse up the chimney…”(Poe 155). Nothing is said of how
gruesome a severed head is, the pain and agony, and what could have been going
through the poor woman’s mind during that time. There is a concise unemotional
description is set forth by both the physician and the sailor. The sailor described the
severing was quick “with one determined sweep… it (the razor) nearly severed her
head from her body” (Poe 167). He does not account for how he felt about this, or
what the women must have felt. For Dupin logic is used over emotion. Dupin, with
the help of the narrator, solves the case using deduction. There is little emotion
displayed from both of these main characters. They focus on the case and disregard to
anything that is not logical to them.
In addition, the characters lack self-image, with the exception of the narrator’s
awe of Dupin’s cunning solving skills. Romanticism was famous for the creation of
characters that contained self-image. In Howell’s Chambered Natualus, one learns
about themselves when they realize they all have their shells they dare not to venture
out of at times. Poe creates characters with predictable reactions and no sense of
self. The reason that the sailor talks about what he saw of the murder was to save his
life. Dupin and the narrator each had a gun pointing at him. This is a stock image of
a “rough and tough” sailor, whose motivation is money, and to save his own skin.
When describing how he obtained the orangutan, it is accounted that “His ultimate
design was to sell it” (Poe 165). This proves that he was mostly motivated by
money, and further expresses that the sailor was a stock character. In Rue Morgue
there is a focus on Dupin, but a minute bit of information is known about him that
does not relate to the narrator’s awe of him. Very little is known about the narrator
except he is in constant awe of his companion. In one scene, the narrator is thinking
about an actor in a play, and Dupin using his cunning logic figures out who it is. The
narrator responds with astonishment, “Tell me for Heaven’s sake…(how) you have
been enabled to fathom my soul…”(Poe 145) The narrator later reflects about how
startled he was. This proves that the narrator looked up to Dupin, but this is the only
characteristic that is prevalent throughout the story.
“Murders at the Rue Morgue” does not meet the criteria set for other stories
written in it’s time period, in the aspects of emotion, focus on the self, and
patriotism. Poe wrote the mystery differently from how other authors would have
written it. Just how “weigh” sneaks by through the rules of the English language, and
that women have risen out of oppression. The stereotypes set by his or her peers do
not apply to every person or story in a certain time period. One can break through
generalizations and find self sufficiency or exile. Poe, like the woman, displayed
different aspects in this story that is still withstanding the test of time.
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