Hyperbole is a literary device and figure of speech deliberately used in poetry and literature to exaggerate a certain topic or situation to make the writing entertaining and interesting for readers.
A hyperbolic statement is an overstatement intended for exaggeration to add emphasis, humor or effect.
Writers and speakers intentionally use hyperbole when they need to exaggerate, amplify or emphasize something they are writing or saying.
Basis points of Hyperbole-
- It is used in both writing and speech.
- It is used to exaggerate a topic, situation or fact.
- It’s an overstatement and shouldn’t be taken literally.
- It is often used to make a situation or an event dramatic or humorous.
- The audience knows they are reading an exaggerated or hyperbolic statement.
Hyperbole Examples in Poetry-
These are the some of best examples of hyperbole used in poems written by some of the renowned poets of the time.
1. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth
Examples of hyperbole in the poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, can be found in the below extract from the poem-
They stretched in a never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand I saw at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.Read ”I wandered Lonely as a Cloud” full poem here
In these lines of the poem, the renowned romantic poet is talking about the daffodils. Wordsworth used hyperbole by saying that the line of daffodils is never-ending which is an exaggeration, and then he further claims that he saw “ten thousand [daffodils]….at a glance” which is also an example of hyperbole that is used to exaggerate & emphasis his point that he saw a lot of daffodil flowers.
2. “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell
Examples of hyperbole in the poem, To His Coy Mistress, can be found in the below extract from the poem-
A hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest.Read ”To His Coy Mistress” full poem here
In this beautiful love poem, the speaker exaggerates his overwhelming feelings for his lady. This whole above extract from the poem is filled with hyperbolic statements, like when the narrator says that a century would be spent on praising just her eyes and her forehead and two hundred years to adore her each breast and thirst thousand years for the rest of her beauty. These are all exaggerated statements used by the speaker to impress his mistress.
3. “A Character” by William Wordsworth
Examples of hyperbole in the poem, A Character, can be found in the below extract from the poem-
This picture from nature may seem to depart,
Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;
And I for five centuries right gladly would be
Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he.Read ”A Character” full poem here
In this poem, Wordsworth is talking about the human moral character. The poet uses hyperbole in the final stanza of the poem which is mentioned above where the speaker says “I for five centuries” which is a hyperbolic phrase to emphasize his point.
4. “Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Examples of hyperbole in the poem, Concord Hymn, can be found in the below extract from the poem-
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.Read ”Concord Hymn” full poem here
In this poem, Ralph Waldo Emerson describes and honors the Battle of Concord, which was one of the earliest battles in the American Revolution fought against British forces. The speaker uses hyperbole in the last line of the first stanza where he says: “And fired the shot heard round the world”, which is an exaggerated statement of the battle for emphasis and has deep meanings that describe the moment when the farmers turned soldiers fought courageously and started the war of global importance.
Hyperbole Examples in Literature-
These are some of the best examples of hyperbole used in literature by renowned authors.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Examples of hyperbole in the popular classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, can be found in the below paragraph from the book-
“A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.”
In these lines of his popular novel, Harper Lee is exaggerating the situation and the conditions at Maycomb, the town where the protagonist lived. Lee uses hyperbole to emphasize the everyday boring life of the people in the town.
2. Living to Tell the Tale, Gabriel García Márquez
An example of hyperbole in the book, Living to Tell the Tale, can be found in the below paragraph from the book-
“At that time Bogota was a remote, lugubrious city where an insomniac rain had been falling since the beginning of the 16th century.”
The above line is a great example of hyperbole used by Gabriel García Márquez in his autobiography. In these lines, the author is claiming that rain had been falling on a city named Bogota since the beginning of the 16th century which is an extravagant exaggeration of his actual statement that the city experiences a lot of nonstop rain.
3. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
An example of hyperbole in the 1925 classic novel, The Great Gatsby, can be found in the below sentence from the book-
“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness”.
The above line is a hyperbolic phrase said by the female character in the novel, Daisy Buchanan to Nick Carroway when she sees him after a long time. Daisy said that she has got paralyzed with happiness which is an exaggeration used for emphasis to show how much she was happy to see Nick after a very long time.
4. Dracula, Bram Stoker
Examples of hyperbole in the 1897 gothic horror novel, Dracula, can be found in the below sentences from the book-
“I promise,” said Lucy, and thank you both a thousand times for all your kindness to me!…
Thank you, thank you, a thousand times! You have taken a weight off my mind.
I love here a thousand times more for her sweet pity of last night…
In the above sentences from Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel, we can clearly notice that the author has used hyperbole on many occasions for the sake of emphasis. Many times in the book the author has used the hyperbolic phrase “a thousand times” to emphasize the feelings of the characters.
5. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
An example of hyperbole in the 1851 novel, Moby Dick, can be found in the below sentence from the book-
…so that for the millionth time we say amen with Soloman- Verily there is nothing new under the sun.
In the above sentence, Herman used the hyperbolic phrase ”millionth time” to exaggerate the statement. It is an obvious overstatement to say that for the millionth time we say something. It is used by the speaker for emphasis and effect.
6. Little Woman, Louisa May Alcott
An example of hyperbole in the 1868 popular coming-of-age novel, Little Woman, can be found in the below sentence-
“Well, I do believe the world is coming to an end”.
In the above sentence, Louisa May Alcott uses hyperbole to exaggerate the scene when Meg makes friends with Laurie and the March girls celebrate the moment and when Meg exclaims the above hyperbolic quote.