What is the purloined letter about?

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What is the purloined letter about??? I don't understand it at all.

-- Anonymous, October 30, 2002


This is a very simple story with a very complex rationale, even to the point of Poe having made a sizeable error of inconsistency in the resolution which neither he nor the reader immediately catches.

Dupin has a special case offered to his private services, the police methods having totally failed. What precedes the solution is a long lecture on why the police failed, namely a deep discourse on how the mind analyzes reality. This usually bogs down the average reader so that ironically the reader himself falls into the same trap as the stolid, straightforward and "throrough" police. One never knows all the jokes Poe is playing on the reader, although he does like to brag to his victims as a rule. The story, the crime and solution is too simple otherwise.

Namely that the purloined(stolen) letter can be found by entering the mind of the criminal, knowing the police mind is predictable and daring to do what no one expects. This is the origin of the idea of hiding the object in plain sight. The invaluable and incriminating letter is roughed up, disguised a bit and placed in plain sight like any ordinary letter. While tearing the place apart(while reconmstructing it to hide their search) no one gives it a second glance, except when Dupin goes in that is exactly what he is looking for. Something no one would ordinarily look twice at. Dupin gets the letter, case solved, fee collected and more lecture on how he did it, treating the poor counter-intuitive police with dripping condescension.

-- Anonymous, November 01, 2002

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