A Pragmatic Analysis of Hyperbole in John Keats’ Love Letters to Fanny Brawn

Sahar Altikriti


Hyperbole is an ever-present figure of speech in daily communication. It over-exaggerates the speaker’s meaning through his / her intense feelings and sincere attitude towards the listener, and hence, it reflects the speaker’s real intention. Hyperbole received a scant attention in comparison to other figures of speech as linguistic and discourse studies attempted to focus on the listener’s response rather than considering the interactive aspect. Hyperbolic expressions have been discussed in informal everyday conversation and academic writing, but less in other genres such as the genre of love letters. Moreover, a pragmatic analysis to both notions has not been shed light upon with much consideration. Thus, the main aim of this study is to investigate both the pragmatic role of hyperbole and detect the use of politeness strategies in seven love letters written by John Keats addressed to Fanny Brawne. The analysis is based on the recognition of positive and negative politeness strategies proposed in Brown and Levinson’s Theory of Politeness (1987).The study demonstrates that both positive and negative strategies and the pragmatic function of hyperbole correlate with the writer’s status and vary according to the context of situation. The results of the analysis revealed that positive politeness strategies were used more frequently than negative ones. Additionally, the findings proved that Keats used hyperbole in his love letters where either positive or negative (or both) emotions revealed to make the intended message of the speaker have even more effective results on the part of the hearer with an emotive persuasion.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsel.v4i1.9885


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