File - GGCA English

Detective Fiction
And “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
In every story, we know that a crime is
going to be committed and that
someone is going to solve it.
So if we already know what is going to
happen, why bother reading it?
Because we want to know how.
 How does a criminal commit a crime in a
locked room?
 Or a detective solve a mystery without leaving
the comfort of their arm chair?
Detective Fiction is a genre made up
of variations to basic formulas.
 Formulas create the
basic structure for a
writer to create
something original.
Think of formulas as recipes for a
great mystery.
 Any one who has eaten home-cooked food has
had the experience of variations in basic meals.
Chili is chili, yet there are Chili cook-offs were
cooks compete under categories like: most
original, most unique, and most likely to burn your
Each cook has a secret twist to their recipe, yet it is
all chili.
Ice cream is the same.
You take the basics (eggs, milk, sugar, ect.) and then
add flavors and treats until you come up with vastly
different kinds of ice cream.
The formula for detective fiction dictates
that a crime is committed in a certain and
must be solved in a certain way, but the
author always adds their distinct secret
ingredient to make it surprising, original,
and delectable.
Most mysteries fall under one formula,
but often writers combine formulas in
order to give the plot a fresh, unexpected
Means, Motive, & Opportunity
Means, motive, and opportunity form
the basis for any prosecution:
 Motive: Does the suspect have a reason to
commit the crime?
 Means: Would the suspect be able to commit
the crime?
 Opportunity: Was the suspect there when
the crime was committed?
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue," by
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be a
founding father of detective fiction.
His detective, C. Aguste Dupin, and
the un-named narrator form the
template for many other detectives
 such as:
Miss Marple
Hercule Poirot.
Agatha Christie
Sherlock Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Miss Marple
 By Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is
considered to be the first locked room
formula used in a short story.
Formula: The Locked Room
 Definition: A crime is committed in a room,
sealed from the inside or under constant
The questions that must be answered
 How could the culprit:
get in?
commit the crime?
then escape?
 Edgar Allan Poe is credited with the first
locked room scenario in the short story,
"Murders in the Rue Morgue," but many
mystery writers have used this formula since.
The ideas behind the
locked room mystery
are very much
grounded in the 19th
century's fascination
and belief in the
Scientific method.
This idea, as Poe demonstrates in the first
two pages of his short story, is that
through observation and analytical
thinking, any mystery can be untangled
into one logically explained series of
 All doors, walls, and
floors are solid and
 There are no ghosts or
Also, crossing the moral line between
socially acceptable behavior and crime
was thought to be explained by three
predetermined causes:
1. Economics
2. Childhood Trauma
3. Genetics
1. Economics
2. Childhood Trauma
3. Genetics
In the story, a terrible double homicide
has been committed in Paris.
 The police are stumped because of the
horrific nature of the murders and the
apparent ability of the two suspects to seem
to disappear from the locked crime scene.
 Dupin and the Narrator go to the scene,
observe the room and the bodies, go home,
and the next day Dupin tells the narrator to
get a gun because he is expecting the culprit
to arrive any minute.
How did Dupin figure it out?
 Observation and
analysis, of course.
And poor Dupin is
forced to explain
everything to the
Clues upon Close Observation:
 Non-human hair
 Ribbon on the Lightning rod
 Spring-operated window sills
 Broken Nail in the window sill
 Size of the hand print bruised on the
daughter's neck
 Testimony of the two voices heard in the
Analysis: No Motive
 Dupin rules out robbery,
the bags containing 40,000 francs are still on the
even though the drawers are riffled through, the
most valuable things are still present.
These women had no enemies, being that they
lived a solitary life and barely left the house.
Analysis: No Means
 - Means: Nobody could have performed the
murders in they gruesome way the women
were found.
How could one man shove the daughter up
the chimney if it took four men to get her
How could an average person be able to
nearly sever the head of the mother with just a
How could a man leave a hand print that big?
Analysis: No Opportunity
 - Opportunity: The room was locked
who would have been able to get in and out
with apparent ease?