what are some examples of a hyperbole in a christmas carol?

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perfectsilence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens makes wonderful use of hyperbole in A Christmas Carol, at times even using very different hyperbolic statements involving similar focuses. Take for example Scrooge's hyperbole in Stave One, when Fred has come to invite his uncle to come to Christmas dinner. Scrooge has turned down the offer, and is in the process of arguing with his nephew when he says "If I could work my will . . . every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!” Here Scrooge makes his feelings on the holiday clear to his nephew by taking two of the most well-known symbols of the holiday, the Christmas pudding and holly and, via hyperbole, turning them into instruments of death and destruction.

In direct contrast to Scrooge's scary Christmas is the hyperbole associated with the pudding that Mrs. Cratchit makes in Stave Three. Mrs. Cratchit is clearly very nervous about the state of the pudding, and when the time comes to bring it to the table she "left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses." For Mrs. Cratchit, there is a lot riding on this particular pudding. Bob, being the intuitive, wonderful husband that he is, understands this, and responds accordingly. The rest of the family follows suit:

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.

Bob's initial hyperbole is accentuated by that of the narrator itself. One can also guess that the specific remarks made by the other members of the family were also very hyperbolic, given their love for their mother and their desire for her happiness. 

These two examples show Dickens using hyperbole for both accent and illumination. Through something as simple as a Christmas pudding, the author helps the reader to understand the extremes of the human condition.

 

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens uses hyperbole in many of the descriptive passages in A Christmas Carol to enrich and enlarge the mental picture he is creating in the mind of his reader. Consider his initial introduction of Ebenezer Scrooge:

A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scarping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.

Scrooge's first encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present, which takes place in his own bedchamber, uses hyperbole to contrast the usual dark, dismal, dirty and aged appearance of the room with the vision that awaited Scrooge.

The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there;

The Cratchit's goose was not a large bird in comparison with many geese being consumed on that day. But the Cratchits react as if it was "the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course." The Christmas pudding, the final jewel in their Christmas dinner, is unveiled by Mrs. Cratchit as the others wait and take in the progression of aromas.

A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry-cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding!