26 pages 52 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1849

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Important Quotes

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“I NEVER knew anyone as keenly alive to a joke as the king was.”

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The story's first line contains both irony and foreshadowing. The king lives to joke, but the practical joke he plays—disguising himself and his ministers as apes—leads to his death at the end of the story. “Never” is the only word written in all caps in the entire narrative, alluding to the impact of Hop-Frog’s practical joke on the kingdom after the tale concludes.

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“Our king, as a matter of course, retained his ‘fool.’ The fact is, he required something in the way of folly—if only to counterbalance the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers—not to mention himself.”

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The narrator ironically calls the king and seven ministers “wise men” and emphasizes their “heavy wisdom,” though Hop-Frog, someone they look down on, outsmarts the group. Moreover, the narrator does little to distinguish among the individual traits of the king and his ministers, showing that though the king is in power, he’s no better than those he governs.

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“Dwarfs were as common at court, in those days, as fools; and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both a jester to laugh with, and a dwarf to laugh at.”

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Hop-Frog is a jester, and his role in court is to tell jokes, but to the cruel minds of the king and his ministers, Hop-Frog’s mere presence creates a joke, contributing to his dehumanization throughout the story. Because he’s a little person (or “dwarf”) and a jester (or “fool”), he’s someone to “laugh at,” not to “laugh with.