32 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Gold Bug

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1843

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Story Analysis

Story Analysis: “The Gold-Bug”

In essence, “The Gold-Bug” is one big treasure hunt that relies on reasoning and logic to solve the puzzle of the buried gold’s location. Poe invites the reader to turn detective and pit their wits against the nameless narrator and the mysterious Legrand. The short story influenced early detective fiction and exemplifies several attributes that would later become staples of the genre, such as the isolated setting (Sullivan’s Island), red herrings (when the narrator falsely leads the reader to believe that Legrand is experiencing a mental health condition) and solving clues (the cryptograph and the riddle of the directions). Part of the story’s mystery surrounds the keeping of secrets. Legrand keeps his motivations a secret from Jupiter and the narrator, so that his behavior seems bizarre. Kidd likewise made sure his treasure was kept secret by encrypting its location and, at the end of the story, Legrand suggests that the pirate resorted to the murder of his own crew members to ensure it could never be discovered.

In addition to the logic that is crucial to solving the puzzle of the treasure’s location, the importance of luck is also a driving force.