The New Critical method of analyzing texts focuses on the word choices and how they combine in order to present the contextual information. Common analytical tools used by critiquers include identifying irony, metaphor, and symbolism and how they shape the work.
In Edgar Allen Poe's "The Purloined Letter", the McGuffin is a sensitive letter that was stolen by a villain. By the time one has read the entire story, we discover the irony that the letter was, in fact, in plain sight of any person who would be looking for it. A careful re-reading of the text shows the reader that the clues were presented all throughout the story. The "red herring" of the long, drawn out description of how the Police Inspector went about searching the lodgings of the villain did nothing but add up to a single point of how blind he was, even after Dupin hinted that the Inspector should broaden his scope beyond the rote methodology that he normally pursued.
Even though the story has all of the elements of solving the case available, the reader is also brought under the umbrella of disinformation through providing language that is ambiguous enough to allow their thoughts to be swayed by the Inspector, even though we are told that his intellect is not up to the task and his methodologies for searching are limited by past cases of how criminals tend to act.
Another ironic point in the story is that not only did Dupin recover the letter, he was able to avenge himself on the villain for a past slight at the same time as he set the villain up for a fall. Dupin knew full well what type of person the villain was, and knew he would continue on as though he still had the letter. Once his bluff was called, he would no longer be able to produce the documents and would be ruined. The irony there is that the villain was clever enough to figure out the Inspector but wasn't able to foresee that another could be brought in to assist. The outcome was not what he suspected. If he decided to stop pressuring the lady, she could help to push him from his place of power and comfort. Either way, he was doomed.
Looking at the story as an outsider, were I the villain, I would have hidden the letter in the room of the husband. The participants in the tale would have assumed that I would keep the letter as far away from the husband as possible. It would be difficult to search the husband's room without explaining what they were looking for, and since the letter's power over the lady would be useless if it were discovered, most rational people would assume I would have kept the letter far away from him. It would be a second twist to throw off anyone smarter than the Inspector.
Iron Noder 2017