'Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In A Sling' by Edgar Allen Poe

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IT'S on my visiting cards sure enough (and it's them that's all o' pink satin paper) that inny gintleman that plases may behould the intheristhin words, "Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, 39 Southampton Row, Russell Square, Parrish o' Bloomsbury." And shud ye be wantin' to diskiver who is the pink of purliteness quite, and the laider of the hot tun in the houl city o' Lonon- why it's jist mesilf. And fait that same is no wonder at all at all (so be plased to stop curlin your nose), for every inch o' the six wakes that I've been a gintleman, and left aff wid the bogthrothing to take up wid the Barronissy, it's Pathrick that's been living like a houly imperor, and gitting the iddication and the graces. Och! and wouldn't it be a blessed thing for your spirrits if ye cud lay your two peepers jist, upon Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, when he is all riddy drissed for the hopperer, or stipping into the Brisky for the drive into the Hyde Park. But it's the illigant big figgur that I ave, for the rason o' which all the ladies fall in love wid me. Isn't it my own swate silf now that'll missure the six fut, and the three inches more nor that, in me stockins, and that am excadingly will proportioned all over to match? And it is ralelly more than three fut and a bit that there is, inny how, of the little ould furrener Frinchman that lives jist over the way, and that's a oggling and a goggling the houl day, (and bad luck to him,) at the purty widdy Misthress Tracle that's my own nixt-door neighbor, (God bliss her!) and a most particuller frind and acquaintance? You percave the little spalpeen is summat down in the mouth, and wears his lift hand in a sling, and it's for that same thing, by yur lave, that I'm going to give you the good rason.
The truth of the houl matter is jist simple enough; for the very first day that I com'd from Connaught, and showd my swate little silf in the strait to the widdy, who was looking through the windy, it was a gone case althegither with the heart o' the purty Misthress Tracle. I percaved it, ye see, all at once, and no mistake, and that's God's truth. First of all it was up wid the windy in a jiffy, and thin she threw open her two peepers to the itmost, and thin it was a little gould spy-glass that she clapped tight to one o' them and divil may burn me if it didn't spake to me as plain as a peeper cud spake, and says it, through the spy-glass: "Och! the tip o' the mornin' to ye, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, mavourneen; and it's a nate gintleman that ye are, sure enough, and it's mesilf and me forten jist that'll be at yur sarvice, dear, inny time o' day at all at all for the asking." And it's not mesilf ye wud have to be bate in the purliteness; so I made her a bow that wud ha' broken yur heart altegither to behould, and thin I pulled aff me hat with a flourish, and thin I winked at her hard wid both eyes, as much as to say, "True for you, yer a swate little crature, Mrs. Tracle, me darlint, and I wish I may be drownthed dead in a bog, if it's not mesilf, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, that'll make a houl bushel o' love to yur leddyship, in the twinkling o' the eye of a Londonderry purraty."
And it was the nixt mornin', sure, jist as I was making up me mind whither it wouldn't be the purlite thing to sind a bit o' writin' to the widdy by way of a love-litter, when up com'd the delivery servant wid an illigant card, and he tould me that the name on it (for I niver could rade the copperplate printin on account of being lift handed) was all about Mounseer, the Count, A Goose, Look- aisy, Maiter-di-dauns, and that the houl of the divilish lingo was the spalpeeny long name of the little ould furrener Frinchman as lived over the way.
And jist wid that in cum'd the little willian himself, and then he made me a broth of a bow, and thin he said he had ounly taken the liberty of doing me the honor of the giving me a call, and thin he went on to palaver at a great rate, and divil the bit did I comprehind what he wud be afther the tilling me at all at all, excipting and saving that he said "pully wou, woolly wou," and tould me, among a bushel o' lies, bad luck to him, that he was mad for the love o' my widdy Misthress Tracle, and that my widdy Mrs. Tracle had a puncheon for him.
At the hearin' of this, ye may swear, though, I was as mad as a grasshopper, but I remimbered that I was Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, and that it wasn't althegither gentaal to lit the anger git the upper hand o' the purliteness, so I made light o' the matter and kipt dark, and got quite sociable wid the little chap, and afther a while what did he do but ask me to go wid him to the widdy's, saying he wud give me the feshionable inthroduction to her leddyship.
"Is it there ye are?" said I thin to mesilf, "and it's thrue for you, Pathrick, that ye're the fortunittest mortal in life. We'll soon see now whither it's your swate silf, or whither it's little Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns, that Misthress Tracle is head and ears in the love wid."
Wid that we wint aff to the widdy's, next door, and ye may well say it was an illigant place; so it was. There was a carpet all over the floor, and in one corner there was a forty-pinny and a Jew's harp and the divil knows what ilse, and in another corner was a sofy, the beautifullest thing in all natur, and sitting on the sofy, sure enough, there was the swate little angel, Misthress Tracle.
"The tip o' the mornin' to ye," says I, "Mrs. Tracle," and thin I made sich an illigant obaysance that it wud ha quite althegither bewildered the brain o' ye.
"Wully woo, pully woo, plump in the mud," says the little furrenner Frinchman, "and sure Mrs. Tracle," says he, that he did, "isn't this gintleman here jist his reverence Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, and isn't he althegither and entirely the most particular frind and acquaintance that I have in the houl world?"
And wid that the widdy, she gits up from the sofy, and makes the swatest curthchy nor iver was seen; and thin down she sits like an angel; and thin, by the powers, it was that little spalpeen Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns that plumped his silf right down by the right side of her. Och hon! I ixpicted the two eyes o' me wud ha cum'd out of my head on the spot, I was so dispirate mad! Howiver, "Bait who!" says I, after awhile. "Is it there ye are, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns?" and so down I plumped on the lift side of her leddyship, to be aven with the willain. Botheration! it wud ha done your heart good to percave the illigant double wink that I gived her jist thin right in the face with both eyes.
But the little ould Frinchman he niver beginned to suspict me at all at all, and disperate hard it was he made the love to her leddyship. "Woully wou," says he, Pully wou," says he, "Plump in the mud," says he.
"That's all to no use, Mounseer Frog, mavourneen," thinks I; and I talked as hard and as fast as I could all the while, and throth it was mesilf jist that divarted her leddyship complately and intirely, by rason of the illigant conversation that I kipt up wid her all about the dear bogs of Connaught. And by and by she gived me such a swate smile, from one ind of her mouth to the ither, that it made me as bould as a pig, and I jist took hould of the ind of her little finger in the most dillikitest manner in natur, looking at her all the while out o' the whites of my eyes.
And then ounly percave the cuteness of the swate angel, for no sooner did she obsarve that I was afther the squazing of her flipper, than she up wid it in a jiffy, and put it away behind her back, jist as much as to say, "Now thin, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, there's a bitther chance for ye, mavourneen, for it's not altogether the gentaal thing to be afther the squazing of my flipper right full in the sight of that little furrenner Frinchman, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns."
Wid that I giv'd her a big wink jist to say, "lit Sir Pathrick alone for the likes o' them thricks," and thin I wint aisy to work, and you'd have died wid the divarsion to behould how cliverly I slipped my right arm betwane the back o' the sofy, and the back of her leddyship, and there, sure enough, I found a swate little flipper all a waiting to say, "the tip o' the mornin' to ye, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt." And wasn't it mesilf, sure, that jist giv'd it the laste little bit of a squaze in the world, all in the way of a commincement, and not to be too rough wid her leddyship? and och, botheration, wasn't it the gentaalest and dilikittest of all the little squazes that I got in return? "Blood and thunder, Sir Pathrick, mavourneen," thinks I to mesilf, "fait it's jist the mother's son of you, and nobody else at all at all, that's the handsomest and the fortunittest young bog-throtter that ever cum'd out of Connaught!" And with that I givd the flipper a big squaze, and a big squaze it was, by the powers, that her leddyship giv'd to me back. But it would ha split the seven sides of you wid the laffin' to behould, jist then all at once, the consated behavior of Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns. The likes o' sich a jabbering, and a smirking, and a parley-wouing as he begin'd wid her leddyship, niver was known before upon arth; and divil may burn me if it wasn't me own very two peepers that cotch'd him tipping her the wink out of one eye. Och, hon! if it wasn't mesilf thin that was mad as a Kilkenny cat I shud like to be tould who it was!
"Let me infarm you, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns," said I, as purlite as iver ye seed, "that it's not the gintaal thing at all at all, and not for the likes o' you inny how, to be afther the oggling and a goggling at her leddyship in that fashion," and jist wid that such another squaze as it was I giv'd her flipper, all as much as to say, "isn't it Sir Pathrick now, my jewel, that'll be able to the proticting o' you, my darlint?" and then there cum'd another squaze back, all by way of the answer. "Thrue for you, Sir Pathrick," it said as plain as iver a squaze said in the world, "Thrue for you, Sir Pathrick, mavourneen, and it's a proper nate gintleman ye are- that's God's truth," and with that she opened her two beautiful peepers till I belaved they wud ha' cum'd out of her hid althegither and intirely, and she looked first as mad as a cat at Mounseer Frog, and thin as smiling as all out o' doors at mesilf.
"Thin," says he, the willian, "Och hon! and a wolly-wou, pully-wou," and then wid that he shoved up his two shoulders till the divil the bit of his hid was to be diskivered, and then he let down the two corners of his purraty-trap, and thin not a haporth more of the satisfaction could I git out o' the spalpeen.
Belave me, my jewel, it was Sir Pathrick that was unreasonable mad thin, and the more by token that the Frinchman kipt an wid his winking at the widdy; and the widdy she kept an wid the squazing of my flipper, as much as to say, "At him again, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, mavourneen:" so I just ripped out wid a big oath, and says I;
"Ye little spalpeeny frog of a bog-throtting son of a bloody noun!"- and jist thin what d'ye think it was that her leddyship did? Troth she jumped up from the sofy as if she was bit, and made off through the door, while I turned my head round afther her, in a complate bewilderment and botheration, and followed her wid me two peepers. You percave I had a reason of my own for knowing that she couldn't git down the stares althegither and intirely; for I knew very well that I had hould of her hand, for the divil the bit had I iver lit it go. And says I; "Isn't it the laste little bit of a mistake in the world that ye've been afther the making, yer leddyship? Come back now, that's a darlint, and I'll give ye yur flipper." But aff she wint down the stairs like a shot, and thin I turned round to the little Frinch furrenner. Och hon! if it wasn't his spalpeeny little paw that I had hould of in my own- why thin- thin it wasn't- that's all.
And maybe it wasn't mesilf that jist died then outright wid the laffin', to behold the little chap when he found out that it wasn't the widdy at all at all that he had had hould of all the time, but only Sir Pathrick O'Grandison. The ould divil himself niver behild sich a long face as he pet an! As for Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, it wasn't for the likes of his riverence to be afther the minding of a thrifle of a mistake. Ye may jist say, though (for it's God's thruth), that afore I left hould of the flipper of the spalpeen (which was not till afther her leddyship's futman had kicked us both down the stairs, I giv'd it such a nate little broth of a squaze as made it all up into raspberry jam.
"Woully wou," says he, "pully wou," says he- "Cot tam!"
And that's jist the thruth of the rason why he wears his lift hand in a sling.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In A Sling by Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you a fan of thrilling and thought-provoking short stories? Do you love delving into the intricate psyche of a character in a tale? If so, then Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling by Edgar Allan Poe is a must-read for you. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the complexities of this masterpiece, from its themes to its symbols and characters.


The story revolves around a little Frenchman who wears his hand in a sling. The narrator, who is a medical student, is intrigued by the Frenchman's injury and sets out to discover the cause. He befriends the Frenchman and learns that he was once a fencing master who had a duel with a rival swordsman. The Frenchman lost the duel and injured his hand. However, he cannot reveal the identity of his rival as he had sworn an oath of silence. The narrator, obsessed with solving the mystery, challenges the Frenchman to a duel, hoping to reveal the identity of the rival swordsman. In the end, the narrator wins the duel and discovers that the Frenchman's rival was none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.


One of the most prominent themes in the story is honor. The Frenchman's injury is a result of a duel, which was a common practice in the 19th century among men of honor. The Frenchman, bound by his oath of silence, refuses to reveal the identity of his rival, even though it means enduring the pain and inconvenience of wearing a sling. This demonstrates his commitment to the code of honor and his loyalty to his country.

Another theme that Poe explores is obsession. The narrator's obsession with solving the mystery of the Frenchman's injury drives him to challenge the Frenchman to a duel, despite being aware of the risk involved. This obsession blinds him to the consequences of his actions and leads him to a dangerous path.


The most significant symbol in the story is the sling. The Frenchman wears his hand in a sling, which symbolizes his injury and his commitment to the code of honor. The sling becomes a physical representation of his loyalty and adherence to the principles of the duel. Moreover, the sling also represents the Frenchman's pain and suffering, both physical and emotional.

Another symbol in the story is the sword. The sword represents the honor code and the practice of dueling. It is also a symbol of power, as those who were skilled in sword fighting were often respected and admired in society. The sword becomes the tool for settling disputes between individuals and maintaining honor.


The Frenchman is the most complex character in the story. He is a man of honor, who has dedicated his life to the art of fencing. He takes his oath of silence seriously and chooses to suffer the consequences rather than break his word. He is also a proud man, who refuses to accept charity from others.

The narrator, on the other hand, is a young and impulsive medical student. He is curious and obsessed with solving the mystery of the Frenchman's injury. He challenges the Frenchman to a duel, despite knowing the risk involved, in the hopes of uncovering the identity of the rival swordsman. The narrator's obsession clouds his judgment and leads him down a dangerous path.

Literary Techniques

Poe employs several literary techniques in the story to create a sense of suspense and mystery. One of the most significant techniques is foreshadowing. From the beginning of the story, the narrator's fascination with the Frenchman's injury foreshadows the eventual duel. Additionally, the Frenchman's reluctance to reveal the identity of his rival also creates a sense of mystery and anticipation in the reader.

Poe also uses irony in the story. The narrator, who is a medical student, is obsessed with solving the mystery of the Frenchman's injury, but he fails to recognize the irony of challenging the Frenchman to a duel when he himself has no experience in sword fighting. This irony adds to the tension in the story and creates a sense of unease for the reader.


Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling is a classic tale that explores the themes of honor and obsession. Poe employs various literary techniques, such as foreshadowing and irony, to create suspense and mystery in the story. The characters are well-developed and complex, adding to the depth of the narrative. Overall, this story is a testament to Poe's mastery of the short story form and is a must-read for any fan of the genre.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In A Sling: A Masterpiece of Irony and Satire

Edgar Allan Poe is a name that needs no introduction. The master of horror and mystery, Poe was also a prolific writer of satirical and humorous pieces. One such piece is "Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In A Sling," a short story that is a perfect example of Poe's wit and irony.

The story is set in Paris, where the narrator meets a little Frenchman with his hand in a sling. The Frenchman is a dandy, dressed in the latest fashion, and speaks in a refined manner. The narrator is curious about the reason for the Frenchman's injury and asks him about it. The Frenchman then proceeds to tell the story of how he got injured.

The Frenchman was walking down the street when he saw a beautiful woman. He was so smitten by her that he followed her to her house. He then climbed up to her balcony and tried to woo her. However, the woman's husband caught him and challenged him to a duel. The Frenchman, being a dandy, was not used to such things and was terrified. He tried to back out of the duel, but the husband insisted. In the end, the Frenchman was forced to fight and was injured in the process.

The story, on the surface, seems like a simple tale of a foolish man who got himself into trouble. However, a closer analysis reveals that there is much more to the story than meets the eye. Poe uses irony and satire to make a commentary on the society of his time.

Firstly, the story is a satire on the French dandy culture. The Frenchman is a caricature of the dandies of the time, who were known for their obsession with fashion and their lack of courage. The Frenchman's injury is a result of his cowardice and his inability to stand up for himself. Poe is mocking the dandy culture and showing how it is a shallow and meaningless way of life.

Secondly, the story is a commentary on the absurdity of dueling. Dueling was a common practice in Europe at the time, and it was seen as a way for men to defend their honor. However, Poe shows how ridiculous and pointless dueling is. The Frenchman is forced to fight a duel over a woman he barely knows, and he is injured in the process. Poe is highlighting the absurdity of a society that values honor over human life.

Thirdly, the story is a commentary on the objectification of women. The Frenchman is so smitten by the woman's beauty that he follows her to her house and tries to woo her. He sees her as an object to be won, rather than a person with her own agency. The woman's husband also sees her as an object, and he is willing to fight a duel over her. Poe is criticizing a society that treats women as objects to be won or lost.

Finally, the story is a commentary on the dangers of pride. The Frenchman's injury is a result of his pride. He is too proud to back out of the duel, even though he knows he is not a skilled fighter. His pride leads to his injury and his humiliation. Poe is warning against the dangers of pride and showing how it can lead to one's downfall.

In conclusion, "Why The Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In A Sling" is a masterpiece of irony and satire. Poe uses the story to make a commentary on the society of his time, criticizing the dandy culture, dueling, the objectification of women, and the dangers of pride. The story is a reminder that even a seemingly simple tale can have deeper meanings and can be used to make a powerful statement.

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