The Cask of Amontillado starts with an example of hyperbole. Identify the hyporbole.

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement or claim that is not meant to be taken literally.  One of my favorite hyperbole phrases is from the movie "The Sandlot."  The character "Smalls" doesn't understand a lot of the baseball slang.  His lack of knowledge is always surprising "Ham" Porter.  Porter's response is always "You're killing me, Smalls!"  Of course Smalls is not actually killing Porter.  It's hyperbole.  

In Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" the opening line is as follows:  

"THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. "

Montressor is likely exaggerating the exact number of injuries done to him by Fortunato.  At one injury per day, that would have taken Fortunato 2.74 years to give Montressor that many injuries.  That assumes that the two men saw each other every day.  If they saw each once per week, that many injuries would have taken over 19 years.  Montressor is using hyperbole to stress his point that Fortunato has injured him a lot.  

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story opens, as others have mentioned, with Montresor speaking of "the thousand injuries of Fortunato" he has suffered. From the first line of his macabre tale, Montresor is making a case for himself and trying to justify what he has done. He is also, remarkably, casting himself as the victim. The central focus of the story is not that he long ago walled up the living Fortunato in a catacomb and left him to starve and die, but that Fortunato injured him. 

A thousand injuries is clearly an exaggeration (an example of hyperbole) meant to build our sympathy for Montresor. However, Montresor never explains or even gives a sense of what these many injuries done by Fortunato might have been. It is difficult, therefore, to sympathize with Montresor. This illustrates a maxim attributed to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. He said that one death is a tragedy, but one million deaths are merely a statistic. Ironically for Montresor, we as an audience are far more horrified at the one injury he does Fortunato than the many he has allegedly suffered. 

poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hyperbole is a term for the kind of figurative language in which the speaker extravagantly exaggerates for the sake of emphasis. It is derived from the Greek word for "over-casting."

Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado" opens with the use of hyperbole when the narrator of the tale, Montressor, claims, "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." Montressor is clearly exaggerating about how many times Fortunato has insulted or offended him, but is doing so to emphasize how seriously he has taken the number of offenses which actually did occur. This sets the reader up to understand that Montressor is unreliable and overdramatic in his assessment of others. 

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The Cask of Amontillado

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