I need to write a 4-5 page research type paper on Poe's Hop Frog. Anything would be helpful!

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2001


The theme of this(I believe)late story(1849) is obviously revenge(the jester Forunato eg. in The cask of Amontillado). Hop Frog's girl is insulted and hurt by the tyrannical king and his toady ministers. The teeth gnashing is a powerful omen of warning. The cruel game. Hop frog and his lady escape via the chain of victims, the burning King and his ministers.

On an easy level the jester is obviously a Poe figure(moreso perhaps than in any other story) vis a vis the other jokers(who favored long, broad jest of low quality). This is very much a symbol of his literary theory. The ministers are fat- not so the crippled jester, a thing of derision as well as humor. The King forces the jester to drink. Trippetta pleads for him and gets wine tossed in her face. Allusions to other Poe stories(Masque of the Red death, ourang-outang from Murders of the Rue Morgue. That Poe compares his art to the low skills of the jester shows bitterness on a level far deeper than the surface story. One of the reasons this tale is not popular perhaps is that it is too brutally uncomfortable a statement of intense hatred standing for Poe himself near the end of his life. The fear and temptation and the effects of drink on Poe.

I can't help, though I may be totally wrong, in comparing this to Dante's Inferno(last circle of Hell- like the court room, chandelier and cupola), for Poe must have felt like a jester in hell himself. Whether the girl stands for Virginia, or more likely, his pure soul as such a figure often does in his poems, the medieval allusions can be intriguing. The King-Satan? The gnashing of teeth- Satan chews traitors. The trap- Dante has to climg Satan's furry hide to escape. The Great Chain of Being(clothing the King and his ministers as apes and leading them to their doom. etc.) He called the Boston literary circle the Frog Pond(Aristophanes play of same name?). Hop Frog is a child's game of using the back of the one in front to leap over.

I would have some misgivings, were I one of those literary adversaries of Poe, and should invite me to participate in his new magazine, The Pen (he died before its inception). He definitely had some revenge in mind once he attained his hard fought success. As with many of Poe's stories there is lot more than a simply told plain tale. Did he mean it to be his last "jest", his last Gothic Tale? He hinted he had other avenues to explore but the unfinished fragment of "The Lighthouse" (another circular ascent) suggest he still had a lot to get off his chest.

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2001

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