Detective Fiction: A Literary Analysis

790 Words 4 Pages
Since the age of Sherlock Holmes, detective fiction has been admired by millions. For over a century scholars and the general public alike have been debating on what makes detective fiction so popular. There is no one “correct” explanation pertaining to why it is so widespread. For example, there are literary, historical, psychological, and religious reasons explaining the genre’s popularity. One of the more interesting aspects of detective fiction is its affiliation with Greek tragedies. As noticed in this semester’s readings, the genre shares similar properties associated with Greek tragedies. Through utilizing Aristotle’s discussion of tragedy’s appeal we can decipher the charm of detective fiction.
One of the main similarities Greek tragedies
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As society transforms with time, so does detective fiction. The evolution of the genre can be explained through Aristotle’s term, mimesis. Aristotle states that tragedy is the imitation, mimesis, of certain kinds of people and actions, and people delight to see realistic representations. For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue was written during the time of the Industrial Revolution. During this time people were moving to the cities and living closer to each other, so there was more opportunity for crimes. Before the Industrial Revolution, prior to detective fiction’s prime, people were more isolated from each other. As a result of this isolation, crime rates were low and murder was extremely rare. Due to the lack of murder cases, there was no need for a detective prior to the Industrial Revolution. Why would somebody read a book about a detective solving a murder case if they are unfamiliar with the concept in their own life? To them, detective fiction would have seemed as unrealistic as Science Fiction. One simply cannot write about a detective solving a murder until people are witnessing it more in real life. Otherwise it is just absurd, phony, and unappealing to the …show more content…
Relating back to mimesis, a person during high crime rates would most likely read a murder mystery since it relates to them. Through the reader’s identification, at the end of the book when the murderer is convicted, the reader feels as if their world is being purified. The murderer in the book resembles a scapegoat for the crimes taking place in real life, and now that the culprit is being sacrificed, it lessens the sins of the reader’s world. Contradicting the depiction of reality, the reader releases the worry and feels as if there is actual justice being done, thus escaping from their actual reality.
As noticed, detective fiction contains aspects similar to Greek tragedies. The connection between the genres aids in providing one of the many explanations regarding the genre’s popularity. Aristotle’s term mimesis explains the appeal of the genre’s evolution through representing the reader’s own life. As a result of this identification, the conviction of a culprit gives the reader of sense of justice and purification in their own life. Although identification and justice are two mere reasons pertaining to the genre’s popularity, they do have a huge impact on the reader’s

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