Metaphors in Grass' Die Blechtrommel

Metaphors in Grass' Die Blechtrommel

Metaphors in Grass' Die Blechtrommel

Metaphors in Grass' Die Blechtrommel


The key to understanding the complex works of Germany's leading writer, Günther Grass, is found in his creative use of language. This book is the first comprehensive, scientific analysis based on a cognitive theory of metaphor of Grass' statements in Die Blechtrommel. Moreover, the resulting data gleaned from the metaphoric meanings--depicted in graphs--offer an important insight into Grass' way of thinking, thereby linking the vast number of interpretations contained in Grass research. This book presents metaphoric analysis as a novel approach to text interpretation and language study.


In addition to the grammatical structures discussed in the previous chapter, metaphors may be grouped according to various stylistic features: Stephen Pepper defines root metaphors as a group of metaphors, which describe one and the same subject (Ricoeur, rm 244). It is a manner of metaphorical functioning wherein a cluster or an array of metaphors function by way of intersignification:

One metaphor, in effect, calls for another....Thus within the Hebraic tradition God is called King, Father, Husband, Lord, Shepherd and Judge....The network engenders what we can call root metaphors, which...have the power to bring together the partial metaphors borrowed from the diverse fields of our experience and thereby to assure them a kind of equilibrium (it 64).

This technique is the rhetorical figure, variation: “In der Varatio spielt...die Metaphorik die dominierende Rolle” (Just 108). the purpose of this characteristic is to impress upon the reader the importance of the event being described (Wagenbach 123). Just claims the reason is “die Auflösung der Einheit” (107), which contributes a sense of chaos to the narrative.

The use of Redensarten is another stylistic feature. Idiomatic expressions continue to function in a special way at the cultural level even though they have been embedded in a language (Sowinski 306). Another form of metaphor, personification, occurs when things or concepts are humanized, such as, “und Finsternis aus dem Gesträuche mit hundert schwarzen Augen sah” (Sowinski 309).

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