What are examples of hyperbole in Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond? 

What are examples of hyperbole in Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond?

 

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hyperbole is a form of figurative language used to express exaggeration. Dr. Wheeler gives us the example, "His thundering shout could split rocks" ("Tropes," Carson-Newman University). In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare frequently uses hyperbole to describe Kit's greatest antagonist, Goodwife Cruff.

A couple of examples can be found during Kit's trial for the accusation of being a witch in Chapter 19. When Prudence Cruff is called to the witness stand to testify, Prudence acknowledges that Kit secretly taught her how to read from the Bible at Hannah Tupper's house. Speare uses hyperbole to describe Goodwife Cruff's reaction to the secrets Prudence reveals during her testimony. For example, Speare describes Goodwife Cruff getting prepared to say something hateful about Kit and how she had bewitched her daughter in the following:

Goodwife Cruff drew in her breath through her teeth in a venomous hiss.

This sentence draws a comparison between Goodwife Cruff and a snake in order to make her hateful reaction sound as evil as a snake hissing. However, since Goodwife Cruff didn't literally hiss like a snake, we know this sentences serves as a hyperbole to give an exaggerated description of Goodwife Cruff's hateful reaction.

The next moment, after Prudence's father expresses pride in her newly demonstrated reading abilities, Speare uses hyperbole to describe Goodwife Cruff's shocked reaction to her husband's pride:

Goodwife Cruff's jaw dropped.

The sentence describes Goodwife Cruff's mouth hanging wide open in shocked disbelief. But, jaws do not literally drop the way we might drop an object to the floor; instead, they open wide or hang open. Since Goodwife Cruff's  jaw does not literally drop, we know this is another example of hyperbole.

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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