Antithesis, which literally means “opposite,” is a rhetorical device wherein opposite thoughts are prepare in a sentence to obtain a contrasting effect.
Antithesis emphasizes the idea of assessment through parallel structures of the contrasted terms or clauses. The structures of terms and clauses are similar, so that it will draw the attention of the listeners or readers. For example:
“Setting foot on the moon may be a small step for a person but a giant step for mankind.”
The use of contrasting thoughts, “a small step” and “a massive step,” within the sentence above emphasizes the importance of one of the most important landmarks of human history.
Common Antithesis Examples
Some well-known antithetical statements have become part of our everyday speech, and are regularly used in arguments and discussions. Below is a listing of some commonplace antithetical statements:
Give every man thy ear, however few thy voice.
Man proposes, God disposes.
Love is a really perfect thing, marriage a actual thing.
Speech is silver, but silence is gold.
Patience is bitter, however it has a sweet fruit.
Money is the foundation of all evil: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.
You are smooth on the eyes, but tough on the heart.
Examples of Antithesis in Literature
In literature, writers rent antithesis not simplest in sentences, but additionally in characters and events. Thus, its use is extensive. Below are a few examples of antithesis in literature:
Example #1: A Tale of Two Cities (By Charles Dickens)
The establishing lines of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities provides an unforgettable antithesis example:
“It become the first-class of times, it become the worst of times, it became the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it become the epoch of belief, it turned into the epoch of incredulity, it changed into the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it changed into the spring of hope, it was the wintry weather of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing earlier than us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the opposite way.”
The contrasting thoughts, set in parallel structures, markedly spotlight the battle that existed within the time discussed in the novel.
Example #2: Julius Caesar (By William Shakespeare)
In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, we note antithesis within the characters of Mark Antony and Marcus Brutus. Brutus is portrayed as the “noblest of Romans,” near Caesar, and someone who cherished Rome and Caesar. Antony, at the contrary, is proven as a person with the evil intentions of harming Caesar, and taking charge of Rome. These antithetical characters spotlight the battle inside the play.
Example #3: An Essay on Criticism (By Alexander Pope)
Alexander Pope, in his An Essay on Criticism, says:
“To err is human; to forgive divine.”
Fallibility is a trait of humans, and God – the Creator – is most forgiving. Through those antithetical thoughts, Pope exhibits the simple nature of human beings. He wants to say that God is forgiving because his creation is erring.
Example #4: Community (By John Donne)
We find antithesis in John Donne’s poem Community:
“Good we must love, and must hate ill,
For unwell is ill, and correct desirable still;
But there are things indifferent,
Which we may neither hate, nor love,
But one, and then another prove,
As we shall discover our fancy bent.”
Two contrasting words “love” and “hate” are combined within the above lines. It emphasizes that we love right due to the fact it is always top, and we hate bad due to the fact it's far always bad. It is a matter of desire to love or hate things that are neither good nor bad.
Example #5: Paradise Lost (By John Milton)
John Milton, in Paradise Lost, says:
“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n.”
The contrasting thoughts of reign/serve, and Hell/Heav’n are positioned on this sentence to acquire an antithetical effect.
Function of Antithesis
A literary tool, like antithesis, makes use of phrases to convey ideas in exceptional methods from the commonplace words and expressions of daily life. Thus, it conveys meaning greater vividly than regular speech. When contrasting thoughts are brought together, the concept is expressed extra emphatically.
As a literary device, antithesis makes contrasts in an effort to observe pros and cons of a subject below discussion, and facilitates to bring on judgment on that precise subject.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw