Most high school students study the works of Edgar Allan Poe in their Junior English class. Macabre tales like “The Cask of Amontillado” and poems like “The Raven” are well known Poe writings that are essential readings in American literature.
There are, however, some lesser known short stories by Poe that are worth looking up because they fit our current crisis in the body politic. “Hop Frog” is one such work. The story’s unusual title (Hop Frog) gives no clue what the tale is about until you learn Hop Frog is the name of the central character. Furthermore, the name was given to him by the king. The king, like Trump, uses names that belittle and ridicule persons based on their physical attributes.
Hop Frog is a disabled dwarf and works in the king’s court as a jester. The king loves to laugh, often at the expense of those around him like Hop Frog. The king and his ministers poke fun at those who are different and powerless to stand up for themselves. Again, this theme reminds me of Trump making fun of a journalist and mocking his withered arm. It was truly a disgusting display of Trump’s narcissism when he imitated the man’s arm in front of a cheering crowd. Many political pundits felt Trump’s egregious behavior, in this single instance, should have been the end of his candidacy right then and there.
In the Poe story, the king forces Hop Frog to drink wine until he comes up with an idea for something that will delight the king and his ministers. The effects of alcohol are particularly deleterious to Hop Frog, but the king cruelly forces him to drink goblet after goblet until Trippetta, Hop Frog’s girlfriend and a dwarf herself, intervenes and begs the king to stop. The king responds by throwing wine in her face. This fills Hop Frog with rage at the king’s action toward his girlfriend. He seeks revenge on the king and his seven ministers, and his plan for revenge is brilliant.
Hop Frog convinces the king and his ministers to hold a lavish masquerade ball. The king and his ministers will dress up as orangutans, enter the grand hall just after midnight, and scare all the guests at the ball out of their wits. The king loves the idea and thinks it will be quite humorous and will be worth many good laughs. Little does the king know the plan includes the means for Hop Frog to commit mass murder—a very public, very horrific murder.
Click the link below to read the short story, “Hop Frog,” and learn how Hop Frog and Trippetta get their revenge and make their getaway.
I find it very satisfying to read this story and imagine it in modern times with Trump playing the part of the king and his cabinet being the king’s ministers. It’s quite amusing in a macabre sort of way, but that’s Poe for you.