The Purloined Letter: Plot Identifications
One early autumn evening begins the Exposition of the story; the introducing of characters, setting, and the basic situation. A discussion between men named Dupin, the unnamed narrator, and the Prefect of Parisian Police describing the main conflict of the story: that a letter has been stolen from the French Queen by a political opponent, Minister D— Leading us into the Rising action, the series of events that build up to create tension and suspense, the Queen is now being blackmailed but is unable to formally accuse the thief because of the private information that the letter contains. The police have tried several times to retrieve the letter by searching the minister’s house and pretending to mug him twice, suspecting that he might have been carrying the letter but they still have yet to succeed. The Prefect now feels that because the minister is a poet, he is a fool. Dupin responds by telling the Prefect to thoroughly search the man’s apartment once more. The Prefect took Dupin’s advice and returned a month later but was still unable to find the letter. The reward had now been doubled and the Prefect advised Dupin that he would pay 50 thousand francs to anyone who could obtain him the letter. This now carries into the Climax of the story, the high point of suspense. Dupin tells the Prefect that he has retrieved the valuable letter and that he may now write him a check on the spot, and gives the astounded Prefect the stolen letter. Followed by the climax, comes the Falling action, where all of the loose ends have now been tied up and a change in the characters have been affected by the solving of the main conflict. The Prefect has rushed out and Dupin goes into detail on what he did to get the letter. He realized the police had only search the places where they would have hidden the letter. Dupin then goes on to say that the Prefect’s presumption that because the minister was a poet, that he was also a fool was a...
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