The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe Essay

  • Topics: Literature
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 606
  • Date added: May 29, 2020

A forerunner of decadence and modernism, whose work was marked by boundless melancholy, writer Edgar Allan Poe is known to many as the creator of iconic dark stories with mystical overtones. One of his masterpieces, known worldwide, is The Gold Bug. The writer created The Gold Bug in the middle of the 19th century, in 1843. It was a period when Americans were passionate about solving various ciphers, cryptograms, and puzzles.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote his story for a contest held by the Dollar Newspaper magazine. The Gold Bug Edgar Allan Poe won the Best Short Story category. For this, the author received the main prize of $100, and the magazine acquired lifetime rights to this work. In just a year, 300,000 copies of the story were published.

What is The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe?

According to its genre, The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe refers to a short story. The story is based on an extraordinary event – the search for a pirate treasure buried by Captain Kidd on Sullivan Island, South Carolina. The narration is conducted on behalf of the author-narrator – a friend of the protagonist, the impoverished rich man William Legrand. The book has a neutral tone and a flowing plot.


Events unfold on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, in the early 1840s. This place is essential to the writer, as he served there in the 1820s. The island, the impressed writer with its colors, became an excellent addition to the novel.


William Legrand is the center of Edgar Allan Poe The Gold Bug. The novel’s protagonist was a resident of New Orleans before going bankrupt. He moved to South Carolina, where his main occupation was collecting insects for his collection. This hobby motivated the main character to look for an unusual insect – the golden bug. In addition, William was fond of solving riddles.

Secondary positions are occupied by:

  • The narrator is a doctor and friend of William Legrand.
  • Jupiter is a formerly enslaved person devoted to Legrand as his servant and helper.
  • Old Negro Woman is the character who helps William Legrand find the location of the codes that supposedly lead to the treasure.

Structure of the Story

Gold Bug has a standard structure. The book has an introduction about the importance of the golden bug, a body that talks about all the adventures, and a conclusion that answers the questions raised in the body of the text.

The Gold Bug Summary

The Gold Bug summary includes the following:

  • Legrand on Sullivan Island (exposition).
  • The story of the beetle (plot).
  • “Illness” of Legrand (development of action).
  • Expedition to the mountains (climax).
  • Legrand’s train of thought (upshot).

The compositional principle of The Gold Bug is “a story within a story.” This way of building work allows you to present different points of view on one event and create emotional tension and a mysterious atmosphere.


The power of the mind is a significant theme in The Gold Bug. The main character deciphers the codes and finds the treasure thanks to the power of the mind. According to the Storyteller, Legrand had too few clues to find the treasure and went mad with despair. However, over time, he sees that Legrand is sane and believes in his ideas. Another theme that contradicts the power of the mind is the superstition exhibited by Jupiter. These two themes play with each other and influence the protagonist’s temperament.

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