What is an example of an allusion, a soliloquy, an oxymoron, a syntax, an ethos, and an asyndenton in The Metamorphosis?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Allusion - In Chapter II Gregor refers to Christmas Eve:

Gregor had considered it in detail and intended to formally explain his thoughts on Christmas Eve.

Also, in the notes on Kafka's text, Weinberg, who explores the religious symbolism of the tale, contends that The Metamorphosis is a "negative inversion" of the Transfiguration of Christ, and Gregor is "an abortive Christ." 

Another allusion is the title itself, which recalls a classic metamorphosis as in Ovid VI, 1-145

Soliloquy - In the first chapter, after Gregor understands that he has somehow been transformed into an huge insect, he also apprehends that he is unable to get out of his bed and, of course, go to work. As he struggles to upright himself, he hears a knock on his door and realizes that it is an attorney from the office. Then, in a soliloquy, a speech to oneself, Gregor wonders,

Were all the employees then collectively, one and all, scoundrels; was there among them then not one truly devoted person who, failing to take advantage of the morning hours for work, would go mad because of pangs of conscience and would, therefore, not be fit to leave bed? ....did the entire innocent family need to be shown that the investigation of this suspicious affair could be entrusted only to the attorney's understanding?

Oxymoron - Two opposite ideas are joined together for effect in Chapter I as the mother screams out in "a hoarse shrieking voice," or the father "was knocking....Feebly but with his fist..."

Syntax - The normal sentence order in English is Subject + Predicate [verb/verb phrase]+ rest of the sentence (often a Direct Object or Prepositional Phrase), but in this sentence the subject comes after the verb:

On the wall directly opposite hung [Predicate] a photograph [Subject] of Gregor from the time of his military service

Ethos - Derived from the Greek word for character, ethos involves the establishment of a person's good reputation and character. In Chapter I after the attorney mentions to Gregor's parents that there is a question about their son's "collection of cash" the previous day, he departs, having caught a glimpse of Gregor around the door. After he leaves, Gregor has wanted to talk to the attorney and establish his integrity. As if to reassure himself, he looks up,

On the wall directly opposite hung a photograph of Gregor from the time of his military service, depicting him as a lieutenant, as if he, with his hand on his fencing sword, smiling and worry free, demanded respect for his bearing and uniform.

Asyndenton  - For conciseness, sentences are written without conjunctions between phrases. 

All three of them took their hats from the coat rack in the hall, took their canes from the cane holder, bowed silently, and quit the apartment.

Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

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