In the movie Network (1976) the infamous speech contains the words

I'm as mad as hell...

Shouldn't it be

I'm mad as hell...

I don't know why, but it really bothers me hearing an extra 'as'. Which from is grammatically correct?

  • 4
    What makes you think that only one version could be correct? – Hot Licks Aug 27 '18 at 12:33
  • The transcript of the speech for anyone who is interested is available at filmsite.org/bestspeeches28.html mid-way down the page. – ColleenV Aug 27 '18 at 17:54
  • "As Hell" isn't really being used as a comparison, like "as mad as she is" in tidbertum's answer. Hell isn't really an emotion and doesn't have emotions. "as Hell" is simply emphasis. It could have been "mad as spit", or some other colorful words that don't have a literal meaning. "Mad as Hell" is idiom. So I agree with you that "I'm mad as Hell" sounds more natural and more correct. But the movie script was written by someone who preferred "as mad as Hell". You can argue that neither way violates any grammar rules. – fixer1234 Aug 29 '18 at 0:15

Well it bothers you because you're used to hearing the shortened spoken version. Traditional grammar calls for that "as" construction to be composed, in its full compliment, as such:

(Subject) as X as Y

You might recognize it in this example:

He is as mad as she (is).

Note the awkwardness:

He is mad as she.

In fact, this nearly changes the meaning (He is mad, as she), implying that he is crazy and so is she - not the either is upset.

In the Network speech, he is as mad as Hell - giving agency to the metaphorical place of Hell, a fiery pit of eternal suffering and damnation; were Hell a Being, I'm sure it would be mad, and that is his current level of, let's call it, (non) amusement.

| improve this answer | |
  • See also happy as a clam. – tchrist Aug 27 '18 at 17:04

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