It is a “terrible” subject Poe admits in a letter to Annie Richmond about his latest story, “Hop-Frog.” It may seem surprising, therefore, to find that the book of Esther is an influential source for this tale and its subject. Yet, as this article argues, this biblical story’s footprints are discernable. Esther’s comedic characterizations, motifs, diction, and stylistic approaches reappear in Poe’s story, often with striking similitude. However, in accordance with his stated criteria for originality and his bent toward ironic opposition, Poe upends the biblical account. Esther’s story of heroic reversals aided by divine providence in a joyful triumph over monarchical oppression and death becomes a dark counternarrative of human madness and vengeance on a godless stage. The seriocomic vision in “Hop-Frog” retains the outlines and substance of its original source but in the form of a negative image with a distinctly original effect.

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