Poe Day 2: The Mystery of Marie Roget

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Synopsis: In this sequel to Rue Morgue, Dupin and his narrator friend, who we will call Eap, become interested in the case of a young woman, Marie Roget. Marie was very beautiful and captivated all who met her. A cigar store owner realized that Marie would increase his customers and convinced her to work for him. She did and his sales did increase. Sometime after she began work, she disappeared without forewarning. An effort was taken to find her without success. One week later, she returned and stepped back into life as though nothing had happened. She was unharmed, although somewhat sadder. Life returned to normal. Marie worked and became engaged to M. St. Eustache, who had a room in her mother's house.

About five months later, Marie again disappeared. She left her mother's home, where she lived, to spend the day with her aunt who lived some two miles away. Her fiance was to meet her at dusk to walk her home. When the weather turned poor, he decided not to go, assuming she would spend the night with her aunt as she had previous times. But Marie did not return on Monday. Nor on Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday, a corpse was pulled from the Seine and determined to be Marie.

Because of the affection all had for Marie, great lengths were taken to find the person or persons responsible. Rewards were offered. A number of people were questioned, arrested, but ultimately released. The newspapers followed the case. About a year after Marie died, the police Prefect came to Dupin, seeking ideas and answers. So far removed from the actual events, Dupin and Eap learn the details of the case through the biased lenses of the newspapers. We are, at length, given the various accounts. We also receive, at length, Dupin analysis of those accounts.

To summarize, Marie left home on Sunday morning while most people were preparing for church. No one reported seeing her. Later accounts did emerge of a young woman with a man some distance from Marie's home. A secluded location was found in a park that was potentially the scene of her death. A petticoat, parasol, and strips of fabric were found, though it is debated if their arrangement was natural or staged. The body was found with the clothing mostly intact. Some was damaged, torn. A strip of folded muslin was found around her throat, loose but tightly knotted, potentially with a nautical knot. It was suspected of being used to prevent her screaming. And a scream had been heard from an inn keeper. A single, sharp scream. The woman suspected a gang of ruffians who had ate and drank at her establishment, then left without paying could have been involved. The gang was seen heading to the river before nightfall.

A friend of Marie's named Monsieur Beauvais did much of the initial, informal investigation. He kept the body isolated. Reportedly, her mother and her fiance did not see the body. Later, it was revealed that the mother was quite feeble and, on top of being heartbroken, unable to make the trip. St. Eustache had been brought in for questioning and, initially, could not account for the time in his day. This was attributed to his mindset as, later, he fully accounted for every hour.

Dupin directs Eap to broaden his search, looking for tangential stories that may have escaped the linear path the police investigation took. The one story noted was the recovery of a boat by a bargeman that was taken to the proper office for holding. The boat was later removed from the official without permission, save the rudder which remained behind.

Once again, as I will not spoil the work, we end here.

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While this is identified by Poe as the sequel to Rue Morgue, it is just the second case of Dupin and Eap. There is no continuation of the Morgue's story line. The story itself says this takes place about two years after the Morgue.

Honestly, I had a very hard time with this story. It is told in one of my least favorite styles--through written documents. Whether it is newspaper articles (like this one), or letters (Bram Stoker's Dracula or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hounds of the Baskerville) the style puts too much distance between the reader and the actual events. In my head, I see two men (and it's usually men) sitting in a room, chattering at each other. No action. Now this is a personal opinion, but it bores me. To get through Marie's story, I pictured the two old guys from the Muppets narrating it. Even then, I fell asleep. Sad, but true.

Another confession: I didn't understand the end, and it wasn't just because I fell asleep. I had to research it to figure out what the last two pages said. I found a version from this Virginia website that has an easier language version than the one I was reading. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/POE/m_roget.html. It confirm that I read the story correctly, did not make sense of it. The take away is Poe appears to have tried to solve a true crime through his telling of this story.

The mystery of Marie Roget parallels the true crime murder of Mary Cecilia Rodgers in the area of New York and was an unsolved case at the time of this stories publication. Footnotes draw parallels between Marie and Mary Cecilia, which do make it confusing. An account of Mary Cecilia's murder can be found here: https://www.historicmysteries.com/the-death-of-mary-rogers/ Her murder was never solved.

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