The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Irony

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Irony

Hostage Audience

One of the most humorous, and certainly very ironic points about this story is the fact that the person to which it was told (the Narrator) never wanted to hear it in the first place. As Wheeler goes on and on with elaborate explanations and descriptions, one cannot help but find humor picturing the Narrator squirming in his seat anxious to be on his way, but too polite to leave before the story is finished.

The Story Retold

Similar to the irony of the “hostage audience” is the fact that although the Narrator never wanted to hear the story of the “jumping frog”, he still relays it to the reader, just as it was told him. It is as if one is duty bound to repeat the story once one has heard it.

A Cheater Cheated

Aside from a rampant gambling addiction, Jim Smiley is not presented to us as overly unscrupulous. Nonetheless, there is a bit of “a cheater cheated” irony present. Having taken great pains to train a frog to jump higher than any other frog in Calaveras County, Smiley gives himself a potentially unfair advantage over anyone who would happen to wager with him. Thus, it is ironic that a stranger should get the better of him with a simple trick.

Dan'l Webster

The name “Dan’l Webster”, which Jim Smiley gives his frog is ironic both for obvious reasons (a small amphibian named after a prestigious historical figure), and also for the not as obvious reason that Daniel Webster’s name, previously associated with the perfection of grammar, has been carelessly abbreviated as “Dan’l”.

Wheeler's Earnestness

One humorous bit of irony is the tone in which Wheeler delivers the story. Rather than the lighthearted/jovial manner one might expect from a tall-tale, the Narrator speaks of Wheeler’s “earnestness and sincerity”. It is ironic that such a relatively fantastic and somewhat unbelievable story should strike Wheeler as so serious.

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