Elements of Detective Fiction in "The Purloined Letter"

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The Purloined Letter Elements of Detective Fiction

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Activity Overview


Most genres of literature typically follow a pattern. Whether looking at romance, drama, or detective fiction, each category will have elements in common. Looking at most detective fiction, for example, will prove this; the reader will see that there are certain universal elements throughout the genre.

A great lesson plan, after reading the story, is for students to complete a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them a list of common archetypes in detective fiction and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the story! They will have an absolute blast and master the genre by the end. Check out this example below:

Elements of Detective Fiction

  • A seemingly perfect crime to be solved
  • A complex plot filled with suspects towards whom circumstantial evidence points
  • Bungling or dim-witted police
  • Great powers of perception & observation by the detective
  • A startling and unexpected resolution in which the detective reveals how he/she has realized the identity of the perpetrator

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Literary Element Spider Map Template

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