Analysis of Gold Bug

“The Gold-Bug” features a cipher that uses polyphonic substitution. Though he didn’t invent “secret writing” or cryptography, Poe certainly popularized it during his time. To most people in the 19th century, cryptography was mysterious and people capable of break the codes had been thought-about gifted with practically supernatural capacity. Poe had drawn attention to it as a novelty over four months in the Philadelphia publication Alexander’s Weekly Messenger in 1840. He had requested readers to submit their very own substitution ciphers, boasting he could solve all of them with little effort.

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Poe wrote “The Gold-Bug” as one of many few items of literature to include ciphers as part of the story. Poe’s character Legrand’s explanation of his ability to solve the cipher is very like Poe’s clarification in “A Few Words on Secret Writing.

Poe’s depiction of the African servant Jupiter is commonly thought-about stereotypical and racist from a contemporary perspective. Jupiter is depicted as superstitious and so lacking in intelligence that he cannot inform his left from his proper.

Black characters in fiction throughout this time period weren’t unusual, however Poe’s alternative to give him a speaking position was. Critics and students, nonetheless, question if Jupiter’s accent was authentic or merely comic reduction, suggesting it was not much like accents utilized by blacks in Charleston but probably impressed by Gullah.

Though the story is usually included amongst the brief list of detective tales by Poe, “The Gold-Bug” isn’t technically detective fiction as a end result of Legrand withholds the proof till after the solution is given.

Nevertheless, the Legrand character is commonly in comparability with Poe’s fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin because of his use of ratiocination.

“The Gold-Bug” inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel about treasure-hunting, Treasure Island (1883). Stevenson acknowledged this influence: “I broke into the gallery of Mr. Poe… No doubt the skeleton [in my novel] is conveyed from Poe.

Discussion Questions

  1. Compare William Legrand to August Dupin as detectives.
  2. Comment: As in “The Premature Burial,” the first half of “The Gold Bug” creates what is in hindsight an extremely misleading atmosphere.
  3. What is Jupiter’s function within the story?
  4. Were you stunned that Legrand found treasure? What was your opinion of Legrand and the narrator at the early part of the story?
  5. How does Poe set up an environment of worry and suspense in this quick story?
  6. Poe usually uses unreliable narrators in his stories. Discuss the narrator and protagonist in The Gold Bug.
  7. Is this a detective story? Why or why not? If not, how might you make it one?
  8. Those Poe stories which spotlight the talents of 1 distinctive central character usually make use of foils to emphasise his superiority. Discuss who’re the foils in this story and Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter.
  9. This is certainly one of Poe’s stories with some humor. Why and the way does he use humor here? Contrast with the humor in The Cask of Amontillado and The Purloined Letter.

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