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September 18, 2006

Lindsey's Quote Commentary

Lindsey Smith
CompLit240 Section 004

“The witnesses as you remark, agreed about the gruff voice; they were unanimous. But in regard to the shrill voice, the peculiarity is-not that they disagreed- but that, while an Italian, an Englishman, a Spaniard, a Hollander, and a Frenchman attempted to describe it, each one spoke of it as that of a foreigner. Each is sure that it was not the voice of his own countrymen.� -Edgar Allen Poe, Murders in the Rue Morgue, pg 415.

This passage alludes to the character Dupin’s power of observation that go beyond those of the common man. Dupin is able to trace the murderer’s voice and abundance of agility to an Ourang-Outang, which in most cases is a far stretch from reality. To most, it would seem illogical to think the voice of a murderer may not have come from a human. It is with Dupin’s capability of examination and exploration that enables him to solve a case that was once labeled as impossible.

Posted by linzsmit at September 18, 2006 10:39 PM



Your quote commentary certainly does establish that Dupin is able to deduce and observe matters that escape ordinary people (exemplified by the multitude of witnesses), even in extraordinary circumstances. You have set up a commentary that provides evidence within the context of the quote itself, and the entirety of "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and have touched on the language of the passage itself. I think you could delve further into the language of it, perhaps dealing reflexively with the fact that it is "language" that is in question... i.e. the voice of the orangutan, and the different interpretations of the language from many foreign witnesses.... That is - the passage is itself about language and misinterpretation - you could use this to your advantage!


Posted by: emmorris at September 23, 2006 09:01 PM


There's an interesting contrast between the unanimity of the people about the "gruff voice" and their apparent disagreement about the "shrill voice". This contrast is important, because the unanimity makes it clear that it was not that the people couldn't be in agreement as a matter of course -- they could and did. This is what makes Dupin realize that in fact there is no disagreement -- that "none of the above" is actually the right answer here as to the language of the "shrill voice".

I think your quote commentary as it stands falls rather into the "boilerplate" category -- while it is certainly indisputable, it is also at the same time not very interesting, because the same conclusions that you are drawing from this passage, namely that Dupin is more observant and more intelligent than others, can also be drawn from numerous other passages and so is not, in and of itself, a very interesting observation.


Posted by: bhattach at September 25, 2006 03:13 AM


Your commentary accurately describes the observational powers of Dupin and his remarkable ability to make sense out of seemingly unimportant evidence. I agree that his discovery of the suspect as an animal is impressive and that it expresses his extraordinary logical processes. I do, however, agree with Emma’s suggestion for you to look deeper into the language of the passage and what points Poe may be trying to convey.


Posted by: jennlong at September 25, 2006 08:37 PM

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