Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue Discussion Questions
Edgar Allan Poe's masterful mystery The Murders in the Rue Morgue takes readers on a journey of discovery as a mysterious murder is investigated. With painstaking logic, the main characters unravel the mystery and keep the reader turning pages while they do. Use these discussion questions with your high school students to help them analyze the characters, plot, and themes of this story. Helping them break down each part of the story into its components and piece together how the mystery was solved can be an excellent exercise in deductive reasoning! You can engage students in a whole-class discussion or provide a list of questions to student teams. Additionally, asking students to prepare a written response to one or more of the questions can serve as a summative assessment tool.
- Note: These questions are designed to be used after students have read this short story.
Questions about Characters
- The narrator very much admires his friend, Dupin, and his analytical mind. How do you think Dupin feels about the narrator? Use examples to support your answer.
- How does Dupin's analytical mind help him throughout the story? Provide examples.
- The two men lived together in a secluded Gothic mansion, virtually cut off from the outside world (with the exception of some night life adventures). Do you think their solitude helped them solve the mystery? Why or why not?
- Do you think Dupin would have taken such an interest in the crime if he was not acquainted with Le Bon? Why or why not?
Questions about Plot
- The author starts the story with an epigraph from Sir Thomas Browne, ''What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond conjecture.'' Why do you think he chose to begin the story this way? What do you think this epigraph means in relation to the story?
- Before they read the article, Dupin recounts the sequence of his logic in bringing up the topic of the actor Chantilly. Why is this moment of analysis important to the plot of the story?
- How do the narrator and Dupin work together to solve the mystery? What contributions do each of them make to the investigation?
- Why do you think each witness had a different account of the language being spoken during the attack? How does this affect the reliability of their testimony?
- What motive did the police attribute to Adolphe Le Bon, the man they accused of committing the murders? Why do the narrator and Dupin disagree? What problems do they see with the police investigation? Why do you think police missed important clues?
Questions about Theme
- Explain the narrator's view of the differences between analysis and calculation. Do you agree with his opinion? Support your claim.
- What mistake(s) did the sailor make in bringing home and caring for the orangutan? Do you think the owner's irresponsible behavior is the cause of the women's deaths? Why or why not?
- Dupin and the police investigators have very different analyses of the crime scene. Do you think investigative work is subjective? Explain fully.
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