The Purloined Letter Themes

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The hallmark of "The Purloined Letter" is its use of abstract logic by C. Auguste Dupin. The story is one of what Poe called his "tales of ratiocination," which employed reason—rather than horror, as in many other Poe stories—as a narrative tool. Dupin, who also solves the cases in some of Poe's other tales of ratiocination, is a detective who uses deductive reasoning to solve the case of the stolen letter.

In the story, Dupin relies on what he knows of the situation to deduce the correct hiding spot of the letter. Dupin's reasoning is based on three factors: what he knows of the Prefect's behavior and thought processes; what he knows of the Minister's behavior and thought processes; and what he knows of human nature in general.

As Dupin explains to the narrator, he knows, both from recent conversations with the Prefect and...

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This section contains 1,144 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Purloined Letter Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Purloined Letter from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.