On first reading, the majority of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories are concerned with death in a variety of different forms. Whether Poe is describing murder, the fear of being killed, characters previously deceased who return to life, or those who still live being buried prematurely, the subject of death is prevalent throughout Poe's works. Because of his subject matter, Poe has been placed in the horror genre. However, as Poe describes in his Philosophy of Composition, some amount of suggestivenesssome under-current, however indefinite, of meaning (Poe 463) is instilled in each of his literary works, an undercurrent that makes him more of a metafictional writer than anything else. Many of Poe's stories comment subtly on the nature of literature itself, and lurking behind all his uncanny character doubling is a running commentary on another doubling of sorts: the writer's place in the literary tradition, the influence of previous writers, versus modernity and originality. In Poe's detective stories The Purloined Letter and The Murders at the Rue Morgue, Auguste Dupin is presented as a doppelganger, a man who adopts the form of his adversary in order to defeat him.
[...] Freeland also parallels the orangutan's shrill speech and Dupin's own tones, as described by the narrator, when in his peculiar state of “empathetic identification.” In this manner, Poe is subtly alluding to the fact that Dupin might be implicated as a murderer as well, simply for the poorly evidenced manner in which he has made his discoveries (Freeland 2-3). Like the poet Poe in “Philosophy of Composition”, Dupin provides weak evidence for the creation of his work, the analysis of the crime, in order to assert superiority and originality instead of influence. [...]
[...] This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray (Emerson). Emerson's “Self-Reliance” is a work that is chiefly concerned with the problems of conformity and influence. Although Emerson and Poe were thoroughly critical of each other, there is no doubt that they were interested in the same ideals, at least in some respects. However, they found themselves at odds with one another. [...]
[...] In all cases, Poe deliberately skews the compass of morality as if to suggest the ambiguous nature of who is guilty and who is innocent in the game of originality. In Murders at the Rue Morgue,” the narrator raises ideas from his observances that depict Dupin's split identity. After launching into a discussion of the game-like aspects of the analytical nature, the narrator's history of the murder begins. He recalls an incident in which Dupin is able to discern what he is thinking by mere observation of the slightest physical hints he presents. [...]
[...] Poe had a grim outlook on the possibility for the perfection of humankind, saying that is now only more active—not more happy—nor more wise—than he was 6000 years ago (Garmon As Garmon argues, Poe is unable to believe in human advancement because post-humously, his work would eventually be rendered obsolete: The future for the artist must be the reputation and fame that will live on after him. If he were to assume that after he has gone a superior race will inhabit the earth to judge his work as feeble and primitive, then the promise of art is vitiated. [...]
[...] In his short stories, therefore, Edgar Allan Poe confuses the moral with the immoral around the recurrent trope of death in order to meditate upon the two sided nature of the argument between originality and influence. Poe's mystery stories, Murders at the Rue Morgue” and Purloined Letter”, are concerned primarily with the detective Dupin's seemingly supernatural analytical ability. In Murders at the Rue Morgue,” the narrator begins the story with a three and a half page explanation detailing at length the subject of analysis (139-142). [...]
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