“Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William Legrand.”
When the narrator hears that his friend William Legrand has been bitten by a mysterious gold bug, he is eager to know more. However, he soon realizes that this bug is driving Legrand to the point of obsessive insanity, as he attempts to find the hidden treasure he is convinced corresponds with this strange bug. Filled with secret messages, codes, and crazy schemes, this mystery is sure to keep you guessing.
This story was really unique, especially when compared to Poe’s other stories. It is set in South Carolina and is the first time that an African American has played a primary role in the story. Legrand’s servant, Jupiter, speaks in a southern dialect and his often humorous language implies that Poe did not think highly of African Americans. Was Poe being racist, or was that how he really interpreted their behavior? As someone who is not very educated on Edgar Allan Poe’s life, it’s hard to say. Nevertheless, it was quite an interesting aspect of life to read about.
Cryptography is a large part of this story, and it was fascinating to see how Legrand decoded secret messages. It made me realize just how intelligent Poe was, to be able to construct such brilliant and creative codes. It’s a different angle of the mystery genre than Poe usually writes about, but I think he executed it very well. There is also an old-fashioned buried treasure side of this short story, which was enjoyable to read as well.
Overall, this story was yet again a great one. It’s not one of my absolute favorite Poe stories, but it is still quite good and well worth reading.