Hyperbole

Pride and Prejudice

by

Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice: Hyperbole 2 key examples

Definition of Hyperbole
Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which a writer or speaker exaggerates for the sake of emphasis. Hyperbolic statements are usually quite obvious exaggerations intended to emphasize a point... read full definition
Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which a writer or speaker exaggerates for the sake of emphasis. Hyperbolic statements are usually quite obvious exaggerations... read full definition
Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which a writer or speaker exaggerates for the sake of emphasis. Hyperbolic statements... read full definition
Chapter 3
Explanation and Analysis—Darcy's Pride:

When Elizabeth first meets Darcy (at a public ball) in Chapter 3, the narrator uses hyperbolic language to summarize how everyone else at the ball feels about him:

His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again.

It’s unlikely that Darcy is the most disagreeable man in the world, but the use of this extreme language makes clear the general public’s disdain for his rude behavior.

After finding out that Darcy is the reason Bingley left Jane behind, Elizabeth also thinks of him using hyperbolic language. This moment appears in Chapter 33:

He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how lasting an evil he might have inflicted.

Again, it is unlikely that Jane has the most generous heart in the world and that Darcy is the reason she lost “every hope of happiness,” but the hyperbolic language effectively communicates Elizabeth’s rage and despair.

Overall, these extreme descriptions capture the ways that Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy keeps her from staying open-minded. In the first half of the novel, she continuously forms opinions of him based on first impressions, small interactions, and gossip from other people. In the end, Elizabeth lets go of these misperceptions and realizes that Darcy is much kinder than he is disagreeable or proud.

Chapter 24
Explanation and Analysis—Divided Heart:

After Elizabeth learns of the letter that Caroline Bingley sends to Jane—explaining that she and Bingley will be staying in London and hinting at Bingley’s potential nuptials with Georgiana Darcy—the narrator uses hyperbolic language to describe Elizabeth's feelings:

Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in silent indignation. Her heart was divided between concern for her sister, and resentment against all others.

It is unlikely that Elizabeth resents all other people in the world based on the actions of Caroline Bingley, but the hyperbole effectively establishes the intensity of her anger and sense of betrayal. This figurative language communicates to readers Elizabeth’s commitment to caring for her family (particularly the kind-hearted Jane) and simultaneously highlights how Elizabeth’s temperament is not as calm and collected as she considers it to be.

This moment also shows how Elizabeth is quick to form prejudices against people like Caroline who have a higher social standing and—she believes—are less caring and moral because of it. Readers can understand how, by being so close to Caroline, Darcy loses credibility in Elizabeth’s mind as well.

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Chapter 33
Explanation and Analysis—Darcy's Pride:

When Elizabeth first meets Darcy (at a public ball) in Chapter 3, the narrator uses hyperbolic language to summarize how everyone else at the ball feels about him:

His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again.

It’s unlikely that Darcy is the most disagreeable man in the world, but the use of this extreme language makes clear the general public’s disdain for his rude behavior.

After finding out that Darcy is the reason Bingley left Jane behind, Elizabeth also thinks of him using hyperbolic language. This moment appears in Chapter 33:

He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how lasting an evil he might have inflicted.

Again, it is unlikely that Jane has the most generous heart in the world and that Darcy is the reason she lost “every hope of happiness,” but the hyperbolic language effectively communicates Elizabeth’s rage and despair.

Overall, these extreme descriptions capture the ways that Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy keeps her from staying open-minded. In the first half of the novel, she continuously forms opinions of him based on first impressions, small interactions, and gossip from other people. In the end, Elizabeth lets go of these misperceptions and realizes that Darcy is much kinder than he is disagreeable or proud.

Unlock with LitCharts A+