Ideas and Topics for Papers


1. Look carefully at the opening pages of the story and discuss the nature of the “analytical” faculty.

2. Discuss the personalities of Dupin and his companion. How are they alike? How are they different? Is Dupin’s personality suited to his amateur detective work?

3. Discuss the method whereby Dupin seems able to read his companion’s mind on their stroll through the streets of Paris.

4. Discuss the aspects of the crime, as reported in the newspapers, that most puzzle the police. Which ones most fascinate Dupin?

5. What is the difference between the way the Paris police work to solve a crime and the way Dupin works?

6. Discuss the means by which Dupin solves the crime by recreating the events as he says they “must” have happened.

7. Why does Poe use an animal as the murderer in the story rather than a human being?


1. Since this story is said to be the first detective story, and the one from which all subsequent detective stories derive, discuss some of the conventions, techniques, and devices introduced here that appear in later detective stories.

2. Poe believes that all good stories are like detective stories, in which the reader serves as a kind of detective, determining the clues and solving the mystery. Compare the action of a reader of a story with a detective as Poe defines him.

3. In another Poe detective story, “The Purloined Letter,” Dupin says that a successful criminal, as well as a good detective, should combine the mental qualities of the poet and the mathematician. How does Dupin combine these qualities in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”?

4. Discuss the manner in which the story is presented, focusing on its lack of any real action and the fact that most of the story either repeats newspaper stories or is a monologue of Dupin telling how he solved the crime.

5. Read Poe’s two other Dupin stories, “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter.” Write an essay on the character of Dupin as he is developed in all three stories, focusing on the quality and nature of his mind.

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