Professor Þórhallur Eyþórsson
Thursday, 11 March 2013
Scripts and Schema of the Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe What is a schema? Whose schema is to be used? What does the schema theory mean? Let us start with the meaning of schema; schema is a conceptual system for understanding knowledge, and how knowledge is represented and how it is used. Literary Schemas would be a higher-level conceptual structure that organises our ways of reading when we are in the literary context. The appearance of the schema theory in a literary context indicate three dissimilar fields, World schemas which is considered of the content of the schema; Text schema which introduces our expectations of the way that world schema appear to us in terms of their sequencing and structural organisation; Language Schema which consist of our idea of the appropriate The cognitive psychologists, linguistics and psycholinguists have used the concept of schema to understand the reciprocal action of key factors affecting the comprehension process and one of the key factors in appeal of schema theory is that it sees these knowledge structures as dynamic and experientially developing. According to the schema poetics, we cannot talk of ‘the schema of the poem’ since schemas belong to people not texts. Schema represents knowledge about objects, events, actions, situations, sequences of events and actions. (Stockwell) The Purloined Letter is a good example for the schema theory, it is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe who is best known for his poems and short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe deserves more credit than any other writer for transforming the short story to a respected literature. Due to Poe´s interest for the supernatural and the schema of the human psyche it is interesting to look for elements of psychoanalysis in his construction of the story and its character. The first verse starts with an image schema, Dupin sitting with his friend, the narrator, smoking pipes a habit taken up by later detective heroes like Sherlock Holmes, when they are visited by Monsieur G the Prefect of the Parisian Police, whom they have not seen for several years. The Prefect has come to seek Dupin’s assistance in a case. He complains to Dupin that the case appears as if it should be simple, yet is baffling the police completely, to which Dupin suggests that perhaps it the simplicity of the case which is causing the problem. The Prefect confides to them that a letter has been purloined from the royal apartments. Whilst the identity of the thief is beyond doubt, the letter cannot be found. The letter was received by an unnamed woman (the Queen), who was reading it in her chambers when she was interrupted by an unnamed “exalted personage” (the King). The letter, it can be inferred, was from some lover, as the Queen is anxious to conceal it from the King. However, unable to hide it quickly without drawing attention to it she leaves it folded on a table. When a third person, Minister D, enters the room, he notes the Queen’s distress and also spies the letter on the table, its address evident. He devises an elaborate ruse to exchange the letter – leaving one of his own on the table near it, then picking up the offending letter as he is ready to depart. The Queen sees this, but is unable to stop him without drawing the King’s attention to the letter, which she dares not do. The Minister is using the letter to blackmail the Queen, and she has turned to the police to help her retrieve the letter. The Prefect, convinced the letter must still be in the minister’s possession, as it is on its ownership he bases his power plays, has mounted a comprehensive secret search of the minister’s apartments. In the cover of night he has searched every inch of the residence, looking for secret compartment in desks, hollow cavities in walls or furniture, under floorboards and carpets, even inside books. He has even arranged for the Minister to be waylaid by apparent muggers...
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