Poe, Edgar Allan
Primary Category: Literature / Fiction
Genre: Short Story
- Donley, Carol
- Date of entry: Feb-12-1999
The narrator of this story, a remote third person, tells us the story of two dwarfs, Hop-Frog and Tripetta, who are ordered to help the fat king and his seven fat ministers celebrate a masquerade at court. Hop-Frog cannot tolerate alcohol, but the king forces him to drink. After the king has thrown wine in Tripetta's face, Hop-Frog sobers enough to say he'll make them all into orang-outangs for the masquerade, all the time planning his revenge for their brutality. At the masquerade he drags them up into the air and burns them alive in the costume.
The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Harvard Univ. Press
Thomas Ollive Mabbott
Poe, of course, is famous for his nightmarish tales. In this case, the king and his ministers are so brutish, it seems appropriate for Hop-Frog to dress them up like animals for the masquerade. And we know from the history given us that Hop-Frog and Tripetta have been captured in a foreign land and sent to the king as slave-booty, so the dwarfs have legitimate reasons to try to free themselves and escape for home.
But the entrapping of the king and his ministers in costume made of highly flammable tar and flax, their hoisting of the eight into the air and then setting them ablaze, all that seems extreme--even if understandable. Poe leads us to believe that Hop-Frog has been driven crazy by the cruelty of his king and ministers.