Although it was different than the letter than the Prefect had originally described, the fact that it was in such an obvious place and so out of place compared to the relative cleanliness of his apartment, made Dupin confident that this was the prize which he had been seeking. He subtly memorized what the letter looked like on the rack while purposely engaging Minister D-- in a vibrant discussion and later went home to create a fake letter exactly identical to that one.
Wise as he is, Dupin had intentionally left his snuffbox at the Minister's apartment, using this as an excuse to return there the next day and continued the conversation they had begun the day before. Suddenly, a gunshot exploded outside of the window, and Minister D-- naturally rushed to see what the commotion was about; Dupin quickly switched his own fake letter with the real one of the rack, going to the window with D-- without having been noticed.
Dupin had paid a man to fire a loaded gun at that very moment for the sole purpose of creating a distraction for him to switch the letters; outside, the man was acting crazy and the bystanders let him continue on his way uninhibited, since he made no further disturbance and they all assumed him to be a lunatic. Dupin of course knew better. With his mission accomplished, C.
Auguste Dupin finished his conversation with D-- and went home, triumphant and pleased with his recovery of this coveted letter. The narrator asks why he did not merely snatch up the letter during his first visit, and Dupin explains that the Minister would probably have not allowed him to leave that apartment alive if he had done as much. A secretive switch was the only way to assure both his success and his safe exit.
He then adds that it is fairly easy to climb up to somewhere, but it is much more difficult to climb down, referring to what fate await D-- in the future recalling that a famous woman named Catalani had made this statement about the art of singing. He foresees the suffering that now lies ahead for D-- but does not feel badly about what he had done, "For eighteen months the Minister has had [the royal personage] in his power.
A Summary and Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’
She now has him in hers -- since, being unaware that the letter is not in his possession, he will proceed with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably commit himself, at once, to his political destruction I have He is that monstrum horrendum , an unprincipled man of genius" Poe, pg. Dupin asserts that he does not have any sympathy for those whom he has beaten, who fall beneath him and from their current state of splendor, as the Minister had once attained.
Now he will fall from this pinnacle of power he has created for himself by using the letter. Dupin wonders what the Minister's reaction will be once he opens the fake letter, since once upon a time in Vienna, Austria, the Minister had offended him, and he had sworn at that time that he would not forget when D-- crossed paths with him. Now, Dupin has his quiet revenge of sorts, having written into the fake letter some lines that would suggest that it had been Auguste that had outsmarted him. These lines are apparently referenced in Dupin's own writing, saying that the Minister "is well acquainted with my manuscript.
Thyestes had a love affair with Agamemnon's wife; Agamemnon cooked Thyestes' children alive; Thyestes then cursed him, and it was Thyestes' son Aegisthus who would later help to slay Atreus' son Agamemnon. The moral of their story is that the process of revenge is ongoing, referring to this quotation. Even after such a long while since he had been offended by D-- in Vienna, he has now gotten revenge and also earned fifty thousand francs from the Prefect.
Stories of Edgar Allan Poe The Purloined Letter
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Edgar Allan Poe — “The Purloined Letter”
View the Study Pack. Table of Contents. Plot Summary. Major Characters. The Black Cat.
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Poe's Stories The Purloined Letter Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
The Gold-Bug. The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. The Balloon-Hoax.
A Descent into the Maelstrom. The Purloined Letter. The Pit and the Pendulum. The Cask of Amontillado. Print Word PDF. Stories of Edgar Allan Poe The Purloined Letter A Latin epigraph from Seneca begins this story about a stolen letter, "Nil sapientiae odiosus acumine nimio," meaning "No wisdom is more hated than far ingenuity," no doubt referring to the analytical abilities of C. More summaries and resources for teaching or studying Stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
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Themes All Themes. Characters All Characters Narrator M. Symbols All Symbols. Theme Wheel. Themes and Colors Key. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Poe's Stories , which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. One evening, the Prefect of the police calls at their apartment.
The pair invite him in. The narrator admits the Prefect is as entertaining as he is annoying. Dupin's superior but eccentric crime-solving intelligence was made clear from The Murders in the Rue Morgue , so when the Prefect calls the apartment, it is clear that another mystery story of a sort is on tap. Active Themes. Rivals and Doppelgangers. They light a candle but when the Prefect announces that he comes on official business and needs help with a case, Dupin extinguishes the light. The Prefect explains that, while the case he comes to them about is very simple, it is also very odd, which is why it might interest Dupin.
He is not someone who follows straight, simple reason. He is a poet and a mathematician. His reason is one of indirection, of thinking through sensibility and intuition, of darkness. In fact the case is so simple that its resistance to solution has the police very confused. The Prefect finds this idea hilarious. When he stops laughing he agrees to tell them the situation, if they swear secrecy. It looks like Dupin has already figured out where the Prefect is going wrong in this case.
Related Quotes with Explanations. The letter, he says, has the power to bring scandal to a certain person of high honor and give the person with the letter great power. The Prefect reveals that the thief is a Minister , who snuck into the royal bedroom and accosted the royal lady and seeing the contents of the letter, blackmailed her. He then stole the letter, in her full view, and replaced it with his own replica document.
Dupin notes that because the royal lady is aware of the theft it gives the thief power over her. The Prefect confirms that the thief has been using this power. Helpless, the lady has come to the Prefect desperate for help. Poe paints a world of corrupt royal hierarchies and abuses of power. The Prefect, who is considered thorough but simple and uncreative, is in charge of the safety of the most high profile figures in the country. The Minister, who should be protecting the royal family, is seeking to use them for his own ends. And the man who can solve the case is Dupin, an eccentric poet.
Download it! He has therefore been engaged in this search for three months, refusing to quit — a handsome reward awaits the finder of the letter. The police attack the case head on. They search the apartment, over and over, more and more carefully, refusing to quit. The narrator assumes that the minister is not carrying it with him, and the prefect admits that the police have already stopped and searched him. The prefect seems to be in possession of every advantage in this case. Not only is the Minister conveniently absent for long portions of the day but the police are also given ample opportunity to search the man himself.
And yet they can find nothing. Dupin thinks they should have known that the Minister would be too clever not to expect to be stopped and searched. The prefect says that though the minister is not a fool, he is a poet, which is a very similar thing. Dupin admits that he too is a bit of a poet. The prefect describes his method of investigation, how he looked over every inch of the apartment.
They studied every rung in the hotel with a microscope to detect any hint of dust, and then the bedclothes and every item of furnishings, and then scrutinized the walls and surfaces of the house in the same way. The long description of each process in the search goes into microscopic detail. The direct and systematic way that the police are able to carry out their search removes the story for a moment from the idea of crime — danger seems far away. The narrator of "The Purloined Letter" is astonished, but the prefect again reminds him of the large reward.
When the prefect is done with his exhaustive list of investigated areas, the narrator thinks that it must follow that the letter is not after all within the apartment. The prefect agrees. He now asks Dupin for advice but all Dupin can say is to search the apartment again. He asks if the prefect has a description of the letter itself, and the prefect eagerly gives one in minute detail from a notebook.
He then leaves, feeling at a loss about the whole case. At this point the prefect needs Dupin to give him advice but Dupin only tells the prefect to keep doing what the police have already unsuccessfully tried. The prefect returns the following month and, when asked about the purloined letter, is disappointed to admit no further developments. He made another thorough search but found nothing.
Dupin asks how much the reward is and the prefect says that he will personally pay fifty thousand francs to anyone who can bring him the letter. Dupin is completely in charge of this situation. Even though he gave the prefect lousy advice the last time, the prefect returns, showing how dependent he is on Dupin. Dupin then calmly asks the prefect to write him a check, and when he has it, he will hand over the letter. The narrator of "The Purloined Letter" and the prefect are in shock at this turn of events.
The prefect writes the check for fifty thousand francs, and Dupin, true to his word, produces the letter. The prefect is overjoyed and rushes off immediately. Dupin then explains himself to the narrator of "The Purloined Letter". He says that he had faith that the police would do a completely thorough search of the apartment, as far as their methods allowed.
But this method is not suited to the criminal in question — the prefect has been both too shallow and too deep in his search. Dupin gives an example to illustrate his point. He reminds the narrator of a schoolboy game, where one boy conceals marbles in his hand, and the other must guess whether it is an even or odd number of marbles. Dupin compares the schoolboy to famous thinkers like Machiavelli. But his sympathies also allow him to see genius in unlikely places, this child on the school playground for example.
This sensitivity to displays of intelligence in many walks of life is significant in making Dupin seem more human. So, the accuracy of the guess depends on the accuracy with which the opponent is judged. Dupin says that the police only think about what they would have done in the situation, where they would have hidden the letter, and this is only accurate of a kind of average, Prefect-like intelligence and not of the more unusual kind of the Minister.