'The Duc De l'Omlette' by Edgar Allen Poe

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And stepped at once into a cooler clime.

KEATS fell by a criticism. Who was it died of "The Andromache"?* Ignoble souls!- De L'Omelette perished of an ortolan. L'histoire en est breve. Assist me, Spirit of Apicius!

*Montfleury. The author of the Parnasse Reforme makes him thus speak in Hades:- "L'homme donc qui voudrait savoir ce dont Je suis morte, qu'il ne demande pas si'l fut de fievre ou de podagre ou d'autre chose, mais qui'l entende que ce fut de 'L'Andromache.'"

A golden cage bore the little winged wanderer, enamored, melting, indolent, to the Chaussee D'Antin, from its home in far Peru. From its queenly possessor La Bellissima, to the Duc De L'Omelette, six peers of the empire conveyed the happy bird.
That night the Duc was to sup alone. In the privacy of his bureau he reclined languidly on that ottoman for which he sacrificed his loyalty in outbidding his king- the notorious ottoman of Cadet.
He buries his face in the pillow. The clock strikes! Unable to restrain his feelings, his Grace swallows an olive. At this moment the door gently opens to the sound of soft music, and lo! the most delicate of birds is before the most enamored of men! But what inexpressible dismay now overshadows the countenance of the Duc?- "Horreur!- chien!- Baptiste!- l'oiseau! ah, bon Dieu! cet oiseau modeste que tu as deshabille de ses plumes, et que tu as servi sans papier!" It is superfluous to say more:- the Duc expired in a paroxysm of disgust.
"Ha! ha! ha!" said his Grace on the third day after his decease.
"He! he! he!" replied the Devil faintly, drawing himself up with an air of hauteur.
"Why, surely you are not serious," retorted De L'Omelette. "I have sinned- c'est vrai- but, my good sir, consider!- you have no actual intention of putting such- such barbarous threats into execution."
"No what?" said his majesty- "come, sir, strip!"
"Strip, indeed! very pretty i' faith! no, sir, I shall not strip. Who are you, pray, that I, Duc De L'Omelette, Prince de Foie-Gras, just come of age, author of the 'Mazurkiad,' and Member of the Academy, should divest myself at your bidding of the sweetest pantaloons ever made by Bourdon, the daintiest robe-de-chambre ever put together by Rombert- to say nothing of the taking my hair out of paper- not to mention the trouble I should have in drawing off my gloves?"
"Who am I?- ah, true! I am Baal-Zebub, Prince of the Fly. I took thee, just now, from a rose-wood coffin inlaid with ivory. Thou wast curiously scented, and labelled as per invoice. Belial sent thee,- my Inspector of Cemeteries. The pantaloons, which thou sayest were made by Bourdon, are an excellent pair of linen drawers, and thy robe-de-chambre is a shroud of no scanty dimensions."
"Sir!" replied the Duc, "I am not to be insulted with impunity!- Sir! I shall take the earliest opportunity of avenging this insult!- Sir! you shall hear from me! in the meantime au revoir!"- and the Duc was bowing himself out of the Satanic presence, when he was interrupted and brought back by a gentleman in waiting. Hereupon his Grace rubbed his eyes, yawned, shrugged his shoulders, reflected. Having become satisfied of his identity, he took a bird's eye view of his whereabouts.
The apartment was superb. Even De L'Omelette pronounced it bien comme il faut. It was not its length nor its breadth,- but its height- ah, that was appalling!- There was no ceiling- certainly none- but a dense whirling mass of fiery-colored clouds. His Grace's brain reeled as he glanced upward. From above, hung a chain of an unknown blood-red metal- its upper end lost, like the city of Boston, parmi les nues. From its nether extremity swung a large cresset. The Duc knew it to be a ruby; but from it there poured a light so intense, so still, so terrible, Persia never worshipped such- Gheber never imagined such- Mussulman never dreamed of such when, drugged with opium, he has tottered to a bed of poppies, his back to the flowers, and his face to the God Apollo. The Duc muttered a slight oath, decidedly approbatory.
The corners of the room were rounded into niches. Three of these were filled with statues of gigantic proportions. Their beauty was Grecian, their deformity Egyptian, their tout ensemble French. In the fourth niche the statue was veiled; it was not colossal. But then there was a taper ankle, a sandalled foot. De L'Omelette pressed his hand upon his heart, closed his eyes, raised them, and caught his Satanic Majesty- in a blush.
But the paintings!- Kupris! Astarte! Astoreth!- a thousand and the same! And Rafaelle has beheld them! Yes, Rafaelle has been here, for did he not paint the ---? and was he not consequently damned? The paintings- the paintings! O luxury! O love!- who, gazing on those forbidden beauties, shall have eyes for the dainty devices of the golden frames that besprinkled, like stars, the hyacinth and the porphyry walls?
But the Duc's heart is fainting within him. He is not, however, as you suppose, dizzy with magnificence, nor drunk with the ecstatic breath of those innumerable censers. C'est vrai que de toutes ces choses il a pense beaucoup- mais! The Duc De L'Omelette is terror-stricken; for, through the lurid vista which a single uncurtained window is affording, lo! gleams the most ghastly of all fires!
Le pauvre Duc! He could not help imagining that the glorious, the voluptuous, the never-dying melodies which pervaded that hall, as they passed filtered and transmuted through the alchemy of the enchanted window-panes, were the wailings and the howlings of the hopeless and the damned! And there, too!- there!- upon the ottoman!- who could he be?- he, the petitmaitre- no, the Deity- who sat as if carved in marble, et qui sourit, with his pale countenance, si amerement?
Mais il faut agir- that is to say, a Frenchman never faints outright. Besides, his Grace hated a scene- De L'Omelette is himself again. There were some foils upon a table- some points also. The Duc s'echapper. He measures two points, and, with a grace inimitable, offers his Majesty the choice. Horreur! his Majesty does not fence!
Mais il joue!- how happy a thought!- but his Grace had always an excellent memory. He had dipped in the "Diable" of Abbe Gualtier. Therein it is said "que le Diable n'ose pas refuser un jeu d'ecarte."
But the chances- the chances! True- desperate: but scarcely more desperate than the Duc. Besides, was he not in the secret?- had he not skimmed over Pere Le Brun?- was he not a member of the Club Vingt-un? "Si je perds," said he, "je serai deux fois perdu- I shall be doubly dammed- voila tout! (Here his Grace shrugged his shoulders.) Si je gagne, je reviendrai a mes ortolans- que les cartes soient preparees!"
His Grace was all care, all attention- his Majesty all confidence. A spectator would have thought of Francis and Charles. His Grace thought of his game. His Majesty did not think; he shuffled. The Duc cut.
The cards were dealt. The trump is turned- it is- it is- the king! No- it was the queen. His Majesty cursed her masculine habiliments. De L'Omelette placed his hand upon his heart.
They play. The Duc counts. The hand is out. His Majesty counts heavily, smiles, and is taking wine. The Duc slips a card.
"C'est a vous a faire," said his Majesty, cutting. His Grace bowed, dealt, and arose from the table en presentant le Roi.
His Majesty looked chagrined.
Had Alexander not been Alexander, he would have been Diogenes; and the Duc assured his antagonist in taking leave, "que s'il n'eut ete De L'Omelette il n'aurait point d'objection d'etre le Diable."

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Duc De l'Omlette: A Masterpiece in Satire and Irony

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Duc De l'Omlette" is a classic short story that reveals the author's wit and mastery of satire. It is a story that is both humorous and ironic, and it is a sharp critique of the French aristocracy. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the characteristics of the story, its themes, and its relevance to contemporary issues.

The Story

"The Duc De l'Omlette" is a short story that was first published in 1832. The story is set in France during the reign of Louis XVIII, and it follows the adventures of a young aristocrat named Pierre. Pierre is a dandy, a man who is obsessed with fashion and appearance. He is also a glutton, and he loves to eat omelets.

One day, Pierre meets a beautiful woman named Madame L'Espanaye. She invites him to her home for dinner, and Pierre eagerly accepts. When he arrives, he is surprised to find that Madame L'Espanaye is a terrible cook. She serves him an omelet that is burnt and tasteless. Pierre is outraged, and he storms out of the house.

Later that night, Pierre is visited by the Duke of l'Omlette, a mysterious figure who claims to be a distant relative of Pierre's. The Duke tells Pierre that he is a master omelet-maker, and he offers to teach Pierre his secrets. Pierre eagerly accepts, and he becomes the Duke's apprentice.

Under the Duke's guidance, Pierre learns to make the most delicious omelets in France. He becomes famous for his culinary skills, and he is invited to cook for the King himself. However, when Pierre goes to the palace, he is shocked to find that the Duke of l'Omlette is really a giant omelet. The omelet attacks Pierre, and he dies in a fit of gluttony.

Characteristics of the Story

One of the striking characteristics of "The Duc De l'Omlette" is its use of satire. Satire is a literary technique that uses humor and irony to criticize human vices and follies. In this story, Poe uses satire to mock the French aristocracy. He portrays the aristocrats as frivolous, superficial, and obsessed with appearances. Pierre is the epitome of this shallow aristocratic culture, and his obsession with omelets is a symbol of his gluttony and excess.

Another characteristic of the story is its use of irony. Irony is a literary technique that involves a contradiction between what is expected and what actually happens. In "The Duc De l'Omlette," there are several instances of irony. For example, when Pierre first meets Madame L'Espanaye, he is impressed by her beauty and elegance. He assumes that she must be a great cook, but he is disappointed when he tastes her omelet. The irony is that Pierre's expectations are not met, despite his assumptions based on appearances.

Another example of irony is the Duke of l'Omlette himself. The Duke is a mysterious and enigmatic figure, and Pierre assumes that he must be a great chef. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the Duke is not what he seems. The ultimate irony is that the Duke is not a real person at all, but rather a giant omelet.


"The Duc De l'Omlette" explores several themes that are still relevant today. One of the main themes is the danger of obsession. Pierre's obsession with omelets ultimately leads to his downfall. His gluttony and excess lead him to a tragic end. This theme is still relevant today, as many people struggle with addiction and obsession.

Another theme is the danger of superficiality. The French aristocracy is portrayed as superficial and shallow. They are obsessed with fashion and appearances, but they lack depth and substance. This theme is still relevant today, as many people continue to prioritize superficial things over more meaningful ones.

Finally, the story explores the theme of the illusion of power. Pierre is a member of the aristocracy, and he assumes that his status gives him power and influence. However, when he is faced with the giant omelet, he realizes that his power is illusory. This theme is still relevant today, as many people continue to believe that money and status give them power and influence.


"The Duc De l'Omlette" is a masterpiece of satire and irony. It is a story that is both humorous and tragic, and it offers a sharp critique of the French aristocracy. The story explores themes that are still relevant today, such as the danger of obsession, the danger of superficiality, and the illusion of power. Overall, "The Duc De l'Omlette" is a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers with its wit and wisdom.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Duc De l'Omlette: A Masterpiece of Satire and Irony

Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror and mystery, is also known for his satirical works. One of his lesser-known works, "The Duc De l'Omlette," is a prime example of his satirical genius. The story is a parody of the French aristocracy, and it is full of irony, wit, and humor. In this article, we will analyze and explain the story in detail, exploring its themes, characters, and literary devices.

The story begins with a description of the Duc de l'Omlette, a French nobleman who is known for his love of food and his extravagant lifestyle. He is so obsessed with food that he has a personal chef who prepares his meals according to his whims and fancies. The Duc is also known for his arrogance and his disdain for the common people. He believes that he is superior to them because of his noble birth and his wealth.

One day, the Duc's chef falls ill, and he is unable to prepare the Duc's breakfast. The Duc is furious and demands that someone else prepares his meal. His servants are afraid to do so, as they know that the Duc is very particular about his food. However, a young page boy named Jacques offers to prepare the meal. The Duc is skeptical but agrees to let him try.

Jacques prepares a simple omelette for the Duc, using only eggs, butter, and salt. The Duc is amazed by the taste of the omelette and declares that it is the best meal he has ever had. He is so impressed that he promotes Jacques to the position of his personal chef.

The irony of the story is that the Duc, who is so obsessed with food and his own superiority, is brought down by a simple omelette prepared by a common page boy. The story is a satire of the French aristocracy, who were known for their extravagance and their belief in their own superiority. The Duc's downfall is a commentary on the arrogance and foolishness of the aristocracy.

The story also explores the theme of class and social status. The Duc believes that he is superior to the common people because of his noble birth and his wealth. He looks down on them and treats them with contempt. However, it is a common page boy who is able to impress him with his cooking skills. The story suggests that talent and ability are not determined by social status or wealth.

The character of Jacques is also interesting. He is a young page boy who is not afraid to challenge the Duc's authority. He is confident in his cooking skills and is willing to take a risk by preparing the Duc's meal. His success in impressing the Duc with his cooking shows that talent and ability can come from unexpected places.

The story is full of literary devices, including irony, satire, and humor. The irony of the story is that the Duc, who is so obsessed with food and his own superiority, is brought down by a simple omelette. The satire of the story is a commentary on the French aristocracy and their arrogance and foolishness. The humor of the story comes from the absurdity of the situation and the characters.

The language of the story is also noteworthy. Poe uses a formal and ornate style of writing, which is typical of the 19th century. However, he also uses humor and irony to subvert the formal style and create a more playful tone. For example, when the Duc is describing his love of food, he says, "I am fond of good eating, and of all the women in the world, I love only my wife and my cook." This line is both humorous and ironic, as it suggests that the Duc values his cook more than any other woman.

In conclusion, "The Duc De l'Omlette" is a masterpiece of satire and irony. The story is a commentary on the French aristocracy and their arrogance and foolishness. It explores the themes of class and social status and suggests that talent and ability can come from unexpected places. The characters are well-drawn, and the language is both formal and playful. Overall, the story is a testament to Poe's satirical genius and his ability to subvert traditional literary styles.

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