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September 22, 2006

Adrienne's Quote Commentary on "The Murder's in the Rue Morgue"

"In investigations such as we are now pursuing, it should not be so much asked 'what has occurred,' as 'what has occurred that has never occurred before.' In fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived, at the solution of this mystery, is in the direct ratio of it's apparent insolubility in the eyes of the police." (pg 414)

From this quote Dupin sets up the idea that the outcome of this mystery is not something of the norm. Instead of simply looking at what has occurred in the Rue Morgue, he points out that one must notice "the firsts," in a sense. By using such phrases as "never occur" and "insolubility" he prepares the reader for an outlandish outcome of this mystery. This is also reiterated when he speaks of the insolubility of the police, basically stating that this mystery if outside of the normal scope of the police, which opens the door for one to consider more than just humans as the culprit.

Posted by amnee at September 22, 2006 04:15 PM


This passage is important in the respect that Dupin points out that what makes something a mystery is that which is unknown. If we ask 'what has occured' then we will get answers in terms of what we already know, but this does not get us any closer to solving the mystery. By asking 'what has occured that has never occured before', the investigator is then able to figure out what is not known and thus needs to be found out.

Posted by: charina at September 24, 2006 06:51 PM

I agree with both of you, this passage presents an interesting dichotomy between abstract thinking and common sense. In this novel, Poe presents them as the same thing. This is a key feature in many mysteries. The solutions to these mysteries are at the same time perplexing, but upon reaching the answer to many of these mysteries, the reader is often seen shaking his head in disbelief as to how obvious the answer was. Ingenuity out of the mundane, it seems, is the concept Poe presents.

Posted by: glittler at September 24, 2006 07:03 PM

Adrienne (and Grant and Charina),

None of you three have however commented on the very interesting assertion in the passage that the "facility" with which Dupin would solve the crime is directly proportional to the obstacles that the police will have to solving it.

This seems to suggest that not only is Dupin an "outsider", in the sense that he is very different from the police, but also that he is in some sense the very opposite of the police: the more they are likely to fail, the more is Dupin is likely to succeed. (In this sense, perhaps, Dupin is a "counter-figure" to the police, an "other" to the police, much in the same way that the "other William Wilson" was to William Wilson?)


Posted by: bhattach at September 25, 2006 02:11 AM

Further comments by Sayan:

1) You should pay more attention to proofreading your posts to avoid typos. Also, avoid errors like "insolubility of the police" -- where you really meant to say "inability of the police to solve the problem". These errors might make the reader feel that you are being sloppy/careless with your writing.

2) An interesting point of the passage was Dupin's claim that his ability to solve the problem is inversely proportional to the police's inability to do so. Doesn't this indicate a curious reversal? Pay attention to things like these and how they match/reflect similar themes in the text, such as Dupin's attraction to the night, which again is a "reversal" (given Dupin's vocation as a detective) of the usual association we have of day/light with clarification and night/darkness with mystification.

Posted by: bhattach at October 2, 2006 06:21 PM

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