The Purloined Letter

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Question: What is the function of genre? Would you classify the ‘Purloined Letter’ a detective fiction or mystery? ---------------------------------------------------------------

To categorise texts, allows us to view the world from another perspective, and make sense of the world. This is the function of genre. This allows the responder to class texts even further into sub genres, which have conventions they follow to. Such as Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’ can be classified into the genre of crime, yet can also be interpreted to fit the conventions of detective crime writing, and mystery. This is made possible through Poe’s utilisation of devices used in mystery and detective novels such as red herrings and denouement.

By classifying texts, the responder is able to believe that the world is controllable and coherent. It is in our human nature that we try to have order, by the means of categorising texts into genres. This is achieved through following the conventions of a type of genre, which allow literature be simplified from all of it’s complexities. For that reason the genre allows classifying texts to certain elements create a sense of order. The conventions of both detective and mystery writing are very similar. This is due to that fact that they are both sub genres of crime writing. Furthermore they both have a crime committed, and a process of detective work occurs. Yet the difference between both sub genres is that detective fiction involves murder and mystery does not. Also mystery creates suspense, such as stretching scenarios where the responder knows more information than the characters in the story, while detective writing focuses more upon how the case is solved. Hence demonstrates that by categorising literature, the complexities are diminished as such. Through the use of presenting a setting, Poe adheres to both sub genres. This is demonstrated through the citation of, ‘curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of the...
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