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Plot summary[ edit ] Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", The unnamed narrator of the story opens with a lengthy commentary on the nature and practice of analytical reasoning, then describes the circumstances under which he first met Dupin during an extended visit to Paris.
The two share rooms in a dilapidated old mansion and allow no visitors, having cut off all contact with past acquaintances and venturing outside only at night. During the remainder of that evening and the following morning, Dupin and the narrator read with great interest the newspaper accounts of a baffling double murder.
The mother was found in a yard behind the house, with multiple broken bones and her throat so deeply cut that her head fell off when the body was moved. The daughter was found strangled to death and stuffed upside down into a chimney. The murders occurred in a fourth-floor room that was locked from the inside; on the floor were found a bloody straight razor , several bloody tufts of gray hair, and two bags of gold coins.
Several witnesses reported hearing two voices at the time of the murder, one male and French, but disagreed on the language spoken by the other. The speech was unclear, and all witnesses claimed not to know the language they believed the second voice to be speaking. When a bank clerk named Adolphe Le Bon is arrested even though no evidence exists pointing to his guilt other than his delivering the gold coins to the two ladies the day before , Dupin becomes intrigued and remembers a service that Le Bon once performed for him.
He decides to offer his assistance to "G—", the prefect of police. Because none of the witnesses can agree on the language the murderer spoke, Dupin concludes they were not hearing a human voice at all. He formulates a method by which the murderer could have entered the room and killed both women, involving an agile climb up a lightning rod and a leap to a set of open window shutters.
Showing an unusual tuft of hair he recovered from the scene, and demonstrating the impossibility of the daughter being strangled by a human hand, Dupin concludes that an "Ourang-Outang" orangutan killed the women.
He has placed an advertisement in the local newspaper asking if anyone has lost such an animal, and a sailor soon arrives looking for it. The sailor offers to pay a reward, but Dupin is interested only in learning the circumstances behind the two murders. The sailor explains that he captured the orangutan while in Borneo and brought it back to Paris, but had trouble keeping it under control. When he saw the orangutan attempting to shave its face with his straight razor, imitating his morning grooming, it fled into the streets and reached the Rue Morgue, where it climbed up and into the house.
The orangutan seized the mother by the hair and was waving the razor, imitating a barber; when she screamed in fear, it flew into a rage, ripped her hair out, slashed her throat, and strangled the daughter. The sailor climbed up the lightning rod in an attempt to catch the animal, and the two voices heard by witnesses belonged to it and to him. The sailor sells the orangutan, Le Bon is released from custody, and G— mentions that people should mind their own business once Dupin tells him the story.
Themes and analysis[ edit ] The moment Dupin questions the sailor about the murders. In a letter to friend Dr. Joseph Snodgrass, Poe said of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", "its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in detecting a murderer.
He also has a desire for truth and to prove a falsely accused man innocent. His interests are not financial and he even declines a monetary reward from the owner of the orangutan. Le Bon, the suspect who is arrested, as appearing guilty as a red herring , though Poe chose not to. London had recently established its first professional police force and American cities were beginning to focus on scientific police work as newspapers reported murders and criminal trials.
Physical strength, depicted as the orangutan as well as its owner, stand for violence: the orangutan is a murderer, while its owner admits he has abused the animal with a whip.
The newspaper accounts pique his curiosity; he learns about orangutans from a written account by "Cuvier" — likely Georges Cuvier , the French zoologist. This method also engages the reader, who follows along by reading the clues himself. The genre is distinctive from a general mystery story in that the focus is on analysis. Poe also portrays the police in an unsympathetic manner as a sort of foil to the detective.
I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious — but people think them more ingenious than they are — on account of their method and air of method. In the "Murders in the Rue Morgue", for instance, where is the ingenuity in unraveling a web which you yourself Hoffmann , in which Mlle.
Murder victims in both stories, however, have their neck cut so badly that the head is almost entirely removed from the body.
Poe, No. I, William H. Graham, Philadelphia, Poe originally titled the story "Murders in the Rue Trianon" but renamed it to better associate with death.
It sold for 12 and a half cents. Poe did not take part in selecting which tales would be collected. Auguste Dupin and the Paris setting. An apprentice at the office, J. Johnston, retrieved it and left it with his father for safekeeping. It was left in a music book, where it survived three house fires before being bought by George William Childs.
In , Childs presented the manuscript, re-bound with a letter explaining its history, to Drexel University. The editor of Le Commerce was accused of plagiarizing the story from La Quotidienne. The film is lost and the director and cast are unknown. The story was adapted in a short silent film made in A film in directed by Gordon Hessler with the title Murders in the Rue Morgue had little to do with the Poe story.
It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starred George C.
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Category:The Murders in the Rue Morgue