‘De nier ce qui est, et d’expliquer ce qui n’est pas’ As the all American hero Forest Gump so cleverly put it, ‘life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. ” Mr. Edgar Allan Poe disagrees with that. He believes life is a game where “mind must conquer mind” and where the players must be keen and only be able to pay attention to detail, but they must be able to use that detail to their advantage. Life is a game of chess or checkers, and we stumble along in our lives playing one game after another, acquiring new opponents along the way.
Our futures, as well as ourselves, are measured by how many of those games we win and the technique we used. This idea is exemplified in the short story Murders In the Rue Morgue by the cunning character Dupin. Also, this story is interestingly preceded by a commentary of Poe describing the games of chess, draughts (aka Checkers) and a card game. Out of these three one can gather that Poe rather likes Checkers and thinks that it is superior to chess because chess has “various and bizarre motions, with various and valuable values, what is only complex, is mistaken for what is profound.
” He explains that what is important in this game is attention to the game and to other person and a game is won when one player oversees a move and so the other wins. “It is the more concentrative rather than the more acute player who conquers. ” But in draughts the moves are unique and have but little variation, “the probabilities of inadvertence are diminished, and what advantages are obtained by either party are obtained by superior acumen. ” Even though it seems his preferred game is draughts I believe the game his characters play in this story is chess.
Dupin and the narrator meet at a bookstore and become friends and decide to live together. One particular day while reading the Gazzette des Tribunaux (I believe this title for a paper to be interesting because it means the Courts Paper, which seems to me to be a source of truth or of the facts which is exactly the paper’s function in the story: it provides the details facts of the murders) the two men come upon a extraordinary story about the murder of two women living in the mansion or castle of the Rue Morgue.
These murders wouldn’t be so unordinary except for their grotesqueness in nature and the violent manner in which they were committed. The police are baffled and have not a clue as to where to begin and have rendered this case impossible. This is where the game begins. For Dupin, this is exactly where he likes to begin, from behind. He has given the police their chance and choice of attack and now he comes for his observation. We have already experienced the uniqueness and keenness of his observational skills and so now we watch as he controls this game of the Parisian Police vs.
Dupin. And there are also 16 pieces (characters) in play, not counting the police or functionary at the end, and Dupin which makes this chess game even more lifelike. The police don’t have a motive, or mode of ingress and egress, and so are very baffled by the whole mystery and don’t have any leads. They are “confounded by the seeming absence of the motive- not for the murder itself- but for the atrocity of the murder. ” And so after using up all their “moves” they have positioned themselves in a sort of stalemate, which leaves the board open for Dupin to control.