26 pages 52 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1849

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Symbols & Motifs


The animal motif appears throughout the narrative to reveal the dehumanization of Hop-Frog and, later, the king and his ministers. The narrative doesn’t reveal Hop-Frog’s real name; he’s called Hop-Frog based on his similarity to an animal. The narrator even compares his gait to a “squirrel, or a small monkey” (Paragraph 7). The king and his ministers look down on Hop-Frog because of his size and the way he walks. They don't identify him by his wit but by perceived shortcomings that supposedly make him less of a man.

When Hop-Frog exacts his revenge, he attempts to humiliate and dehumanize the eight men by dressing them as orangutans. In the context of the story, apes are equivalent to beasts that reside in the uncivilized world. The use of animals to dehumanize the noblemen is effective: “As had been anticipated, there were not a few of the guests who supposed the ferocious-looking creatures to be beasts of some kind in reality” (Paragraph 48). The partygoers look at the king and ministers as real animals rather than men in costume—and treat them as a dangerous threat rather than as people.