Monday, May 11, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe

How has Edgar Allan Poe's writing influenced detective stories? There have been many influential writers in the past but the one that stands out the most is Edgar Allan Poe. He has written many different pieces of literature ranging from love to murder. But in his murder stories there are many similar factors that emerge. It seems that for all of his murder and mystery type stories the killer always seems to find a way to give himself up. In a lot of his pieces, the police seem to perform very poor investigations but always seem to find out the truth through the killer being to cocky and pretty much giving himself up. For example in The Black Cat the main character was home free with his murder and became a little to confident and he told the police to come down stairs right by where he had the cat and his wife buried, he knocked on the wall, the cat made a noise and he got caught. A similar act happened in A Tell Tale Heart. This adds a little more suspense in the story and helps to serve for a more enjoying plot. Since Poe is such an influential writer, other writers look at his work and use his tactics of suspense in their stories, which occurs a lot in detective stories. Poe has really set the standard for the expectations on how detective stories are written. When writing a detective story it has become customary to refer to Poe's work.

In the story Murders of the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, two women were killed while occupying a fourth room of a house on Rue Morgue. It is hard to understand where the killer had exited the room because it appears to be completely locked from the inside and the police are having a hard time finding a motive on why someone would try to kill these two ladies. But Mr. Dupin, an investigator steps in and solves the case. To solve the mystery Mr. Dupin used a process of deduction, which is different to other Poe stories because his characters usually do very poor investigations of the murders. Mr. Dupin uncovered the killer to be an orangutan that had escaped its owner. This also showed how hard of an investigation the police and Mr. Dupin had to perform in order to have justice.

In the story The Adventures of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the inspector, Sherlock Holmes, had to find out who killed a young women in her home. It was hard for him to find out who the killer was because there was no hard evidence that there was force involved. His first theory was that a gypsy or a band of gypsy's killed her but it did not make sense because this motive was missing some parts like she had no violent scars, or no sine of any kind of restraint so how would a person have killed her? He then was about to come to the conclusion that she died of a frightening disaster, but he decided to go se the victim's sister who found her right before she died. She said that her sister's last words were speckled band, which led him back to believe that the gypsies killed her. Then she told him that she heard a clanking noise, which she did not know where it came from, so this put him in a state of serious confusement. A little later he found Dr. Grimesby Roylott (the victims step father) dead in the corner of the same house. He then remembered that the doctor had brought some animals from India over to study from. After that he discovered that the woman had a rope hanging from her ceiling in her room from her ventilator, which led him to the conclusion that the doctor was using a snake to climb down the rope to kill his stepdaughter. This snake was the most deadly in all of India, so when it bit people it left no marks on them but it killed them within seconds, which explains why his gypsy theory did not make sense with no marks. This also made sense because the victim's last words were speckled band, which identifies the snake, and the clanking noise was identified as the snake in a safe after the doctor placed him in it. In this story Sherlock Holmes came up with many theories but narrowed it down by a process of elimination, which was also elevent in the story, the Murder of the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. This alone shows that Edgar Allan Poe influenced other writers. When writing this story Doyle had to have had Poe in mind because he had a very similar investigation as in the Murder of the Rue Morgue.

The influence of these Poe stories on A. Conan Doyle was cardinal. Doyle himself publicly credits Poe; he modeled the Sherlock Holmes stories after Poe's highly successfully formula for detective fiction in these three stories: a detective of razor-sharp intellect, a bumbling narrator & a short-sighted police inspector. In 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue,' 'The Mystery of Marie Roget,' & ' The Purloined Letter,' Poe stretches the possibilities of literature. Essential reading in the detective fiction genre.

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