The Murders in the Rue Morgue is a short story by the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe. In the manner of his earlier works this story also borders on horror, but because of it’s theme it is considered one of the first crime stories ever. It was written in 1841 and released in April of the same year in Graham’s Magazine.
The main character of this story is a detective C. Auguste Dupin. He’s in charge in cases of bizarre murders that occur mainly in Paris’ Rue Morgue. This detective later served as a prototype for many detectives, presumably even the famous Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) and Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie). It’s interesting to note that at a time when he wrote this work, the word “detective” didn’t even exist.
Dupin is brilliant “detective” with a sharp mind. He’s using his extensive knowledge and unusual techniques. In this story, the writer used the first-person narration, but not from the point of the main character, but his assistant, who was his close friend – which will later also be used by the Arthur Conan Doyle. This all shows that The Murders in the Rue Morgue was crucial in the history of literature, and is distinctly changed its former course.
This novel has a sequel, called “Secret Marie Roget”, in which Auguste Dupin is also the main character. Dupin also appears in another work of Edgar Allan Poe, the novel “The Purloined Letter”.
The book starts with a polemic about analysis and analytics which the author associates with chess and playing cards. The plot begins when the author writes about Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin who he met in Paris. Because a series of circumstances he lost his fortune, and the only luxury he had in life were books. He and the author shared a love for books.
They’ve met in a library, and after that, they decided to live in Paris. They were cut away from the world. They did not entertain guests and only spent their time with a book and each other.
Dupin’s favorite part of the day was the night and the author bowed down to that. Over the day they would close the blinds and make the room dark to have a vision of night, and when the real dark came, they would go out and talk.
Dupin was capable of perfectly spotting and following the author’s train of thoughts. They were walking one night, and after 15 minutes of silence and after that with just one sentence a conversation about Chantilly started. He was a shoemaker who tried the theater and failed, and that conversation led to the murders in Rue Morgue.
Mother and daughter were found dead. Corps of the daughter who was strangled was pulled out of the chimney. Somebody cut the throat of the mother, and when they moved her dead body, her head fell off her body. The story was in the newspaper that the two of them were reading. There was no indication of the murderer’s identity and the day later testimonies of the witnesses were published.
Most of the testimonies were the same in everything with the exception of a few facts. Some of the witnesses said that the mother was a fortune teller and other denied it. The people that entered the house first in search of the victims heard two voices. One of them was piercing, and the other one was gruff. Everyone gave a different testimony about that. One of them said that the voices belonged to somebody French and English and others said that they were Italian.
Nobody knows how the perpetrators ran out of the house. The police weren’t sure if it was a murder. The corps of the daughter stuck in the chimney was bruised, and the mother’s bones were crushed, and her throat was probably cut with a razor.
The police arrested Adolphe Le Bon even though it seems that no evidence pointed to him. The author realized that Dupin started to get interested in the case when the alleged murderer was arrested because he asked him about his opinion on the murder. The author, same as the rest of Paris was convinced that the case was unsolvable.
Dupin criticized the French police who bragged about their methods, and he thought that their only good method was a good moment. He invites the author to investigate the murder with him because Le Bon once did him a favor he never forgot. He knew one of the investigators, so he got the permission necessary to start their investigation.
They went to the crime scene and searched everything. The author didn’t know why Dupin investigated with such interest. The author didn’t spot anything different than the newspaper said.
Dupin got quiet about the murder until noon next day. He wanted to know if the author saw anything unusual. Dupin thought that the newspapers were guilty of the opinion of the police about the case being unsolvable. The newspaper stated a lack of motives for the murder, different testimonies about the voices and that that was causing the police to think that this case is a dead end.
Dupin said that he’ll get to a solution or that he already knows it. The author was amazed, and Dupin stated that he expects the perpetrator or the accomplice. Because they had to keep him in both of them took their guns.
Dupin kept going on with his monolog about the murder. He pointed the author to the fact that everyone agreed that one voice was French and that nobody wanted to say that the other voice belonged to their country. All of them pointed to the language that is not their even though they’ve never heard it.
Also, he figured out that the perpetrators escaped through the window when he carefully studied the room. He already made a theory about how they got in and out, but the both of it required lots of handiness.
He also considered the great amount of money left in the house and the strength necessary to get a body into a chimney. All of his observations make the author believe that the perpetrator was a lunatic from the hospital that was nearby.
Dupin proved his opinion to be wrong because the witnesses could tell which nationality was lunatic and also Dupin took the hair that was in the hand of the mother. It wasn’t even similar to human hair as the fingerprints on the daughter’s neck weren’t human.
Dupin showed the author an article about an orangutan from the islands whose fingerprint matches the one from the daughter’s neck.
The author still couldn’t understand the mystery of the two voices. Dupin thought that there was a French man who knew about the murder but ran away and also he thought that the orangutan was still walking free. He placed an article in the newspaper that he had an orangutan in his apartment that belonged to a sailor. He came to that conclusion when he finds a ribbon tied into a specific knot that sailor know how to make.
His suspicions became real when they heard steps. A sailor came into their apartment in search of an orangutan. He offered them money as a reward for finding the animal. Instead of money, Dupin asked him to tell them about the murder.
He went to the door and locked them and placed his gun on the table. The sailor told them that he caught the animal with a friend that died. After his death, he hid the orangutan in his apartment and found him one day trying to shave probably because he saw the sailor doing it.
When he took out his whip, the animal ran out through the window. The sailor followed him and the orangutan spotted the window. A murder occurred there in the way Dupin described it. The owner caught the orangutan, and Le Bon was released from the prison.
Edgar Allan Poe Biography
Edgar Allan Poe (1809. – 1849.) was an American author, poet, editor and a critic of the American realism. He lost his parents two years after birth and was adopted by a tobacco merchant who sent him to a school in England.
He was expelled because of his gambling debt and because of that the tobacco merchant didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Under a false name, he joined the army but got kicked out because he disobeyed his orders.
He married the 13 years old Virginia who died of tuberculosis and it is considered to be the cause of his alcoholism and opium addiction. He dedicated the song “Annabel Lee” to her.
Edgar got famous because of the poem “The Raven” and “The Murders in Rue Morge” and “The Purloined Letter” are considered to be his most famous crime novels.
He tried to kill himself and then he disappeared for three days, and when he came back he died in a strange condition in 1849.
Poe wrote mystical works as “The Black Cat”. He wrote songs in a mystical romantic mood and bizarre motives.
Book reports from Edgar Allan Poe
- The Black Cat
- The Fall of the House of Usher
- The Masque of Red Death
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue
- William Wilson