Examples of Hyperbole in "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Updated March 09, 2017

Time and Heartbeats

Many of the narrator's hyperbolic observations center on time and sound. "A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine ... for a whole hour, I did not move a muscle," he states as he watches over an old man he ultimately murders. When he imagines the old man's heartbeat, he agonizes, "the sound would be heard by a neighbor!"

Hyperbole Shows Obsession

Poe, according to New York University's literary database, uses "frenetic diction" to underscore the lunatic's obsessive perceptions. This hyperbole-soaked mentality is nowhere more evident than in the story's finale, when the madman "foamed, I raved, I swore" during a quiet conversation with police, as an ear-splitting imaginary heartbeat leads him to distraction and finally confession of his murderous deed.

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About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.