Paraphrase Tool


Updated Feb 9, 2023

Understanding the Rhetorical Device of Metastasis

Have you ever been captivated by a speech or a piece of writing that seemed to take you on a journey, gradually building momentum and intensity? If so, you may have encountered the rhetorical device of metastasis. In this article, we will delve into the meaning, purpose, and examples of this powerful rhetorical tool.

What is Metastasis?

Metastasis, derived from the Greek word "metastasis" meaning "a change," is a rhetorical device that involves a gradual shifting or progression from one thought or idea to another. It is a form of amplification that allows the speaker or writer to build momentum, intensify emotions, or emphasize key points.

Purpose of Metastasis

The primary purpose of using metastasis is to engage and persuade the audience by creating a sense of anticipation and building tension. By shifting from one idea to another in a seamless and gradual manner, the speaker or writer can keep the audience hooked and curious about what comes next. Metastasis also adds depth and complexity to the overall message, making it more memorable and impactful.

Examples of Metastasis

To better understand metastasis, let's explore a few examples from different contexts:

Example 1: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech

In his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech, Martin Luther King Jr. employed metastasis to convey a powerful message of hope, equality, and justice. He gradually shifted from specific issues to broader themes, increasing the emotional impact with each transition. Here's an excerpt:

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

By smoothly transitioning from conducting the struggle on a "high plane of dignity and discipline" to rising "to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force," King builds momentum and emphasizes the importance of nonviolent resistance.

Example 2: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"

Even in literature, metastasis finds its place. In Jane Austen's classic novel "Pride and Prejudice," the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, undergoes a gradual change in her perception of Mr. Darcy. The author skillfully employs metastasis to depict this transformation. Consider this passage:

"Till this moment, I never knew myself. Now, I do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Here, Elizabeth's shift from not knowing herself to discovering her true feelings for Mr. Darcy creates dramatic tension and highlights the depth of her emotions.


Metastasis, as a rhetorical device, serves as a powerful tool for engaging and persuading audiences. By gradually shifting from one thought or idea to another, speakers and writers can build momentum, intensify emotions, and emphasize key points. Whether it's a historic speech like Martin Luther King Jr.'s or a classic novel like Jane Austen's, the use of metastasis adds depth and impact to the message. So, the next time you find yourself captivated by a speech or piece of writing, pay attention—you might just discover the artful use of metastasis.

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About Paraphrase Tool

Getting your wording just right

Paraphrasing is a natural part of the writing process as it helps you clarify your thinking and suit your words to your audience. Using a Paraphrase Tool helps structure and streamline this work, and our paraphrase tool offers 20 modes, many of them free, for accomplishing just this. The 20 modes we offer are diverse, including a summarize tool, a free grammar checker, a mode to simplify text, and a sentence shortener. There are sentence rephrasers and paraphrase rephrase tools, and we pride ourselves on having both, since our reword generator accounts for context at both the sentence and paragraph levels.

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