This week's Poe Friday reading was the short story Hop-Frog. As always, if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, click over and take a quick look. This one is about 7 1/2 printed pages long.
Hop-Frog is the name of a crippled dwarf that lives in a castle and is tasked with amusing the king and his seven corpulent advisors. My favorite line of the story was "I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the dwarf by his sponsors at baptism". I should think not. His only friend is a small but normally developed woman who dances for the court. After suffering yet another abuse, Hop-Frog decides to get his revenge on the king and his men. He helps them dress up as "ourang-outangs" for a masquerade which they agree to because of their sick senses of humor. They want the opportunity to severely scare the other attendants of the party. But instead, they become trapped by Hop-Frog who uses their tar and rush outfits as fuel to light them all on fire and burn them to a crisp. Quite a revenge!
This story started out tragically and turned out to be incredibly gruesome. However, I felt little or no sympathy for the cruel king and his revolting followers. This was a strange attempt at a period piece. I guess it could be considered a fable of sorts. It certainly had themes of revenge and just-desserts. It also exposed a sad part of history where the physical deficiencies of people made them complete outcasts in society who were stripped of their humanity and turned into jokes. I can't help but see Poe's satisfaction come through as the powerful bullies are destroyed by those that they crush under heel. This was a very typical Poe theme.
For next week, I'm choosing Never Bet the Devil Your Head: A Tale With a Moral. The title makes me chuckle and I'm guessing the moral is another painful one!
Treating all people with equal respect and kindness so I don't get burned,