Abstract

Hyperbole is an easily misunderstood and misused trope, and it is largely unexplored in current rhetorical studies. Yet, at moments within thought and discourse, the excessiveness of hyperbole elicits a constructive, transformative ambiguity that can reveal alternative epistemological and ontological insights. Indeed, hyperbole is often the most effective way of trying to express seemingly impossible and inexpressible positions. I argue for the reexploration and critical examination of hyperbole, and I offer a theoretical framework from which to view texts and discourse from a hyperbolic perspective. I identify the metafunction of hyperbole, and I offer two specific functions of hyperbole. Hyperbole is more than simply an obvious and intentional exaggeration and thus can benefit from an exploration that considers it beyond its traditional tropological limits. It can be engaged as a mode of inquiry in order to delve into the complexities and paradoxes of theo-philosophical discourse, and it can also be appropriated as a critical position from which one might, for example, propose interpretations of various textual expressions that differ from their more normative interpretations.

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