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Narrative analysis of Edgar Allan Poes The Murders in the Rue Morgue with reference to W.H. Audens essay The Guilty Vicarage

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

He was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, who invented the genre of detective fiction. He is best known of his tales of mystery and macabre. The Murders in the Rue Morgue is his first detective story, published in 1841.

Wystan Hugh Auden

He was the Anglo- American poet who wrote the famous essay The Guilty Vicarage in 1841.

A Brief Summary of the Story:

Flowcharts to depict the Peripeteia in the form of double reversal:

Peaceful state before murder (Rue Morgue is a peaceful locality & Madame LEspanaye and Camille lead a retired life.) | Murder (Both the mother and the daughter are found murdered in their house at Rue Morgue.) | False clues, secondary murder, etc. (All the people examined are uncertain about the second voice that they heard, each claiming it to be in a different language. False accused is arrested.)

| Solution (Dupin and his friend examine the site of the murder carefully and Dupin arrives at the solution to the mystery. They track down the sailor and correctness of the solution is established.) | Arrest of murderer (The Ourang-Outang escapes after the murder and is caught by its real owner and sold at the Jardin des Plantes. Le Don was instantly released.)

False innocence
(The Ourang- Outang is not suspected at all.)

Revelation of presence of guilt

(Dupin, after examining the house knows that the culprit is not a human.)

False location of guilt

(Police arrest Le Bon as the murderer.)

Location of real guilt

(The sailor reveals the actual murderer and the correct sequence of events.)

(After the confession, probably the sailor underwent Catharsis.)

True innocence (Le Bon is immediately released and the sailor is not arrested as well.)

The five elements of the detective story:

The Milieu The Victim The Murderer The Suspects The Detective

The Milieu (Human)

A detective story requires two things:

1.A closed society so that the possibility of an outside murderer is excluded. 2. It must appear to be an innocent society in a state of grace.

The Milieu (Natural)

a. Nature should reflect its human inhabitants i.e. It should be the Great Good Place. b. The corpse must shock not only because it is a corpse but also because, even for a corpse, it is shockingly out of place, as when a dog makes a mess on a drawing room carpet.

The Victim

Auden lays down two contradictory requirements that the victim has to satisfy: 1. He has to involve everyone on suspicion, which requires that he be a bad character. 2. He has to make everyone feel guilty, which requires that he be a good character. Further, the victim cannot be a criminal because he could then be dealt with by the law and murder would be unncessary.

The Murderer
Auden considers the murderer to be rebel whose pathos is His refusal to suffer. Auden then gives the reader a test of a Good detective story which he finds to be the fact that a good story surprises the reader when the identity of the murderer is revealed, yet at the same time convinces him that everything he has previously been told about the murderer is consistent with his being a murderer.

The Suspects

The cause of suspicion should not be just chance or murderers malice. Auden says, In order for the appearance (of a conflict) to exist, there must be some element of reality.

The Detective

The detective is the exception individual who is himself in a state of grace. Dupin is an Amateur detective. Poe defined a new method of solving a mystery through the character of Dupin Ratiocination.

The solution to the mystery of the murders in the Rue Morgue:

The puzzle gets solved after the sailor confesses being the witness to the murders and narrates the actual sequence of events.

Dupin does not mind the prefects thanklessness and responds by saying that G is "too cunning to be profound. In his wisdom is no stamen.

Thank You for your kind attention.