Edgar Allen Poe\'s "Hop Frog": The Transcendence Of Frogs and Ourang-Outangs


"Hop-Frog!, I will make a man of you."

In Edgar Allen Poe\'s short story "Hop Frog," the title character Hop-
Frog is able to transcend the limitations of his physical body, in ways the King
and his seven ministers are unable. "Hop-Frog" has multiple examples of the
transcendence of man, and the inability of man to transcend. The most prominent
of these points are:

1. By overcoming the limitations of his, Hop-Frog\'s, physical body
he is able to transcend into a greater existence than his biology
would allow.
2. By the King and his ministers discounting of Hop-Frog due to his
disfigurement and their inability to acknowledge his transcendence, they are
fated to never have the chance to transcend.
3. By the use of symbolism in "Hop-Frog," Poe reinforces the
actions of the characters and strengthens the representations of their
transcendence, or lack there of.

Each of these of these three points coalesce to bring the significance of the
transcendence of man, or the lack there of, into a focused view.

Hop-Frog, the title character in Edgar Allen Poe\'s "Hop-Frog," is able
to transcend the limitations of his physical body. Biologically Hop-Frog is
nothing more than a freak of nature. Hop-Frog is a dwarf. His means of
locomotion was that of an "interjectional gait---- something between a leap and
a wiggle,"(482) and this motion was only afforded to him through "great pain
and difficulty." Hop-frog\'s teeth are "large, powerful, and repulsive."(484)
His arms, not in balance with his body, have a "prodigious power."(482) His
arms so over compensated for his body he "resembled a squirrel, or a small
monkey, more than a frog."(482) His ability to tolerate wine is nonexistent.
The story states that Hop-Frog is from "some barbarous region."(482) For the
King, Hop-Frog is a "triplicate treasure"(482) for the king to laugh at. If a
man is no greater than his biological make up, then Hop-Frog is a freak, and
limited to his body. Hop-Frog proves this is not true. By using his arms Hop-
Frog is able to do astounding acrobatic feats. Hop-Frog is able to overcome the
effect that drink had on him and is able to remain calm and formulate a plan of
revenge when Trippetta is struck and wine is thrown in her face. Hop-Frog even
breaks the stereotypical mold of a beautiful hero. Hop-Frog is able to find a
love with Trippetta, a love that transcends his physical makeup. Hop-Frog saves
the girl, has his revenge, escapes unharmed to his homeland, and in an ironic
twist of fate is able to have the last laugh at the King\'s expense. Hop-Frog is
an example of a transcendent male, one who is able to go beyond his biological
makeup and becomes something greater.

The King and his seven ministers are all healthy, albeit fat, strong
men with little or no disabilities the reader is informed of. Their only
weakness according to the author was that for "jest."(481) It the King\'s and
his minister\'s predisposition to joking, and their inability to see in others
any measure of transcendence are doomed to failure. The fact that the King and
his ministers call him "Hop-Frog" and not his given name, thereby not
acknowledging his existence, further reinforces the fact that they see him as
nothing more than an object to laugh at. The fact that the King continually
forces Hop-Frog to drink wine even though the King knows the effect it has on
him. The King, unable able to recognize Hop-Frog\'s transcendence, has no idea
as Hop-Frog lays the ground work for the King and his ministers death through a
"carefully planned and enacted setup."(1089) The King is only Able to see that
Hop-Frog is laughing, and since the King\'s weakness is a "good Jest"(481), he is
unable to see the motives behind the actions. When the King allows for no
weapons at the gathering, and entrusts the keys to the locked doors to Hop-Frog,
the King and his ministers are again unable conceive of any transcendence in
Hop-Frog. The King and his ministers are, up until the moment of their
inevitable death, still not cognoscente of their fate, they "were convulsed
with laughter,"(486) and ignorant to the events that were to succeed. It is the
King\'s and his minister\'s predisposition to jokes, and their inability to
acknowledge Hop-Frog\'s transcendence from the limitations of his body, the fact
that he is more than just the sum total of his parts, that dooms them to their
fate. "Hop-Frog!, I will make a man of you,"(484) is the King\'s ultimate
admission of