The Double in "The Purloined Letter"

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Hi. Im from Brazil and study at Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista), in So Paulo State. Id like to know about the "double" in Poes "The purloined letter". Thanks

Marina.

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2005

Answers

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-- Anonymous, January 12, 2005

The story "William Wilson" might havebeen easier in some ways yet this story, about detective and criminal shows the matter in another way. BOTH detective and criminla are gifted analytical thinkers. Du[ppin goes to great lengths to decribe this type of reason and distinguish it from formal rules and machine-lie logic. BOTH men are poets and Dupin goes to great lengths also to tell his astonished companion how this apparent contradiction can be so. The two men in fact know each other and Dupin has been wronged by D- himself. The last classical quote is about secret revenge.

SO this can be seen as a variation of the Double as seen in the split mind of William Wilson and his imagined doppleganger. One is at war with the other, an eternal competition. The two unique minds are divided into good and evil. Dupin's quarry is ambitious, unscrupulous, daring, deceitful and destructive with an obvious enjoyment in his scheme. Dupin equally enjoys bringing down the "monstrum horrendum" by joining briefly into his own mind to imagine how the letter must have been hidden.

Right at the beginning when the Inspector noted the oddity of both Dupin and the case at hand, Dupin was on the scent of a situation that matched his own character. The attraction of like to like- extraordinary mystery solver to the extraordinary mystery- begins right away and Duypin is not surprised at all to find his old enemy involved.

Future examples in crime stories would be Sherlock Holmes(AC DOyle) and his nemesis Dr. Moriarity which later writers would embroider into the split self or the twin champions of crime and law even to the point of putting it all into Holmes' own overactive mind(as in William Wilson).

The theme is therefore greater than the doppleganger tale of William Wilson. Poe himself was not only that "double" mind capable of great intuition because capable of great art and feeling(a Romanticist ideal) but divided against himself in real life, morally. "The Imp of the Perverse" is just another example of the man divided against himself. Putting two pure foes in stories merely helps the writer separate and work out this frustrating battle.

-- Anonymous, January 16, 2005


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