Main | Jenny's Quote Commentary on "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" »

September 18, 2006

Emma's Quote Commentary on Poe

Emma Morris - CompLit 240 Section 004

"He impaired his vision by holding the object too close. He might see, perhaps, one or two points with unusual clearness, but in so doing he, necessarily, lost sight of the matter as a whole. Thus there is such a thing as being too profound. Truth is not always in a well. In fact, in regards to the more important knowledge, I do believe that she is invariably superficial." - Edgar Allen Poe, Murders in the Rue Morgue, p 412.

In this passage, Poe employs the rhetoric device of an analogy and metaphor in order to illuminate the larger structure of the mystery at hand. By characterizing the subject in this passage as too concerned with scrutizing an object, or a problem (or a mystery), with too much focus on over-analyzing its intricacies, and approaching a problem without intellectual ingenuity, Poe establishes a relationship between truth, knowledge, and "sight." In this sense, Poe contends that the truth of a matter is often "superficial," that is, is often right on the surface: it is often useless, if not detrimental to delve too deeply into scrutiny. In light of "Murders In The Rue Morgue" as a whole, Poe portrays Dupin as an analytical mastermind who is able to deconstruct and restructure the causes, events, and undercurrents of a problem, not by delving deeply into the motives, circumstances, data, and evidence, but by approaching it at face value.

Posted by emmorris at September 18, 2006 06:36 PM


Your quote choice is very interesting because not only does it provoke many connections within the story and Poe’s work as a whole, it also has many connections to our everyday life. You show how Dupin is able to examine evidence and the case without over-analyzing details and thus see the entire case and make correct deductions. I know that sometimes in my own life I think about details too much, and end up distracting myself from the big picture. The ability to take small things into consideration while maintaining a broad picture is a skill that when mastered, allows people, especially detectives, to be more successful.


Posted by: linzsmit at September 24, 2006 08:34 PM


(1) First of all, you've drastically exceeded the upper limit on commentary size. Please do remember that the quote commentaries are supposed to be approximately 100 words long. Yours is way over 200 words long. While I appreciate that you may have had more things to say, please try to keep within the page limit.

(2) This passage also reminds me of another passage in this same story about truth having to be found in the "valleys" by its seekers, and not always on the "mountaintops". In both cases, Poe is using the notion of "vertical distance" -- mountains and valleys (i.e. height) in one case, and well and surface (i.e. depth) in the other.


Posted by: bhattach at September 25, 2006 03:29 AM


Your commentary is very well thought out. I felt that your method of describing Dupin’s capability of observing the ‘big picture’ by way of Poe’s analogy was very creative. I believe that Poe’s goal was to keep the reader’s attention at the surface and allow the small intricate details to contribute to a larger method as you described.


Posted by: jennlong at September 25, 2006 08:59 PM

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