Definition of Antithesis

Antithesis is a literary device that refers to the juxtaposition of two opposing elements through the parallel grammatical structure. The word antithesis, meaning absolute opposite, is derived from Greek for “ setting opposite,” indicating when something or someone is in direct contrast or the obverse of another thing or person.

Antithesis is an effective literary and rhetorical device , as it pairs exact opposite or contrasting ideas by utilizing the parallel grammatical structure. This helps readers and audience members define concepts through contrast and develop an understanding of something through defining its opposite. In addition, through the use of parallelism , antithesis establishes a repetitive structure that makes for rhythmic writing and lyrical speech.

For example, Alexander Pope states in  An Essay on Criticism , “ To err is human ; to forgive divine.” Pope’s use of antithesis reflects the impact of this figure of speech in writing, as it creates a clear, memorable, and lyrical effect for the reader. In addition, Pope sets human error in contrast to divine forgiveness, allowing readers to understand that it is natural for people to make mistakes, and therefore worthy for others to absolve them when they do.

Examples of Antithesis in Everyday Speech

Antithesis is often used in everyday speech as a means of conveying opposing ideas in a concise and expressive way. Since antithesis is intended to be a figure of speech, such statements are not meant to be understood in a literal manner. Here are some examples of antithesis used in everyday speech:

  • Go big or go home.
  • Spicy food is heaven on the tongue but hell in the tummy.
  • Those who can, do; those who can’t do, teach.
  • Get busy living or get busy dying.
  • Speech is silver but silence is gold.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • It’s not a show, friends; it’s show business.
  • No guts, no glory.
  • A moment on the lips; a lifetime on the hips.
  • If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

Common Examples of Antithesis from Famous Speeches

Antithesis can be an effective rhetorical device in terms of calling attention to drastic differences between opposing ideas and concepts. By highlighting the contrast side-by-side with the exact same structure, the speaker is able to impact an audience in a memorable and significant way. Here are some common examples of antithesis from famous speeches:

  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character .” (Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream”)
  • “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” (Abraham Lincoln “The Gettysburg Address”)
  • “‘Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'” (Edward Kennedy quoting Robert F. Kennedy during eulogy )
  • “We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change.” (John F. Kennedy “Presidential Inaugural Speech”)
  • “You see, for any champion to succeed, he must have a team — a very incredible, special team; people that he can depend on, count on, and rely upon through everything — the highs and lows, the wins and losses, the victories and failures, and even the joys and heartaches that happen both on and off the court.” (Michael Chang “ Induction Speech for Tennis Hall of Fame”)

Examples of Proverbs Featuring Antithesis

Proverbs are simple and often traditional sayings that express insight into truths that are perceived, based on common sense or experience. These sayings are typically intended to be metaphorical and therefore rely on figures of speech such as antithesis. Proverbs that utilize antithetical parallelism feature an antithesis to bring together opposing ideas in defined contrast. Therefore, antithesis is effective as a literary device in proverbs by allowing the reader to consider one idea and then it’s opposite. It also makes for lyrical and easily remembered sayings.

Here are some examples of proverbs featuring antithesis:

  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Easy come, easy go.
  • Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.
  • Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.
  • Like father, like son.
  • Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
  • An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.
  • Be slow in choosing, but slower in changing.
  • Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
  • If you can’t beat them, join them.
  • Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open.
  • One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Utilizing Antithesis in Writing

As a literary device, antithesis allows authors to add contrast to their writing. This is effective in terms of comparing two contrasting ideas, such as a character’s conflicting emotions or a setting’s opposing elements. In literature, antithesis doesn’t require a pairing of exact opposites, but rather concepts that are different and distinct. In addition, since antithesis creates a lyrical quality to writing through parallel structure , the rhythm of phrasing and wording should be as similar as possible. Like most literary and rhetorical devices, overuse of antithesis will create confusion or invoke boredom in a reader as well as make the writing seem forced.

Antithesis and Parallelism

Both terms demonstrate a fundamental difference. An antithesis comprises two contradictory ideas and parallelism does not necessarily comprise opposite ideas or persons. It could have more than two ideas or persons. As the name suggests that parallelism is a condition where is an antithesis is an opposition. For example, man proposes, God disposes, has two contradictory ideas. However, it is also a parallel sentence . Furthermore, parallelism occurs mostly in structure and less in ideas. Even similar ideas could occur in parallelism, while an antithesis has only dissimilar ideas.

Antithesis and Juxtaposition

As far as juxtaposition is concerned, it means placing two ideas together that are dissimilar. They need not be opposite to each other. In the case of antithesis, they must be opposite to each other as in the case of man proposes, God disposes. Not only these two ideas are dissimilar, but also they are opposite. In the case of juxtaposition, a poet only puts two ideas together and they are not opposed to each other.

Use of Antithesis in Sentences  

  • As soon he dies, he becomes a dead living.
  • Most people do not understand the value of money when the poor put money ahead of them.
  • Some people make money, while some waste it.
  • Although they have gone leaps ahead, they have also stepped back just in the nick of time.
  • The public comes forward when there is prosperity and moves back when there is adversity.

Examples of Antithesis in Literature

Antithesis is an effective literary device and figure of speech in which a writer intentionally juxtaposes two contrasting ideas or entities. Antithesis is typically achieved through parallel structure, in which opposing concepts or elements are paired in adjacent phrases , clauses , or sentences. This draws the reader’s attention to the significance or importance of the agents being contrasted, thereby adding a memorable and meaningful quality to the literary work.

Here are some examples of antithesis in well-known works of literature:

Example 1:  Hamlet (William Shakespeare)

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice ; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

In Shakespeare’s well-known play , he utilizes antithesis as a literary device for Polonius to deliver fatherly advice to his son before Laertes leaves for France. In these lines, Polonius pairs contrasting ideas such as listening and speaking using parallel structure. This adds a lyrical element to the wording, in addition to having a memorable and foreboding impact on the characters and audience members with the meaning of each line.

Despite the attempt by Polonius to impart logical thinking, measured response, and wise counsel to his son through antithesis, Laertes becomes so fixated on avenging his father’s death that his actions are impulsive and imprudent. Polonius’s antithetical words are not heeded by his son, resulting in the death of several characters including Hamlet and Laertes himself.

Example 2:  Paradise Lost  (John Milton)

Here at least We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.

In Milton’s epic poem , he explores the Fall of Satan as well as the temptation and subsequent Fall of Man. This passage is spoken by Satan after he has been condemned to Hell by God for attempting to assume power and authority in Heaven. Satan is unrepentant of his actions, and wants to persuade his followers that Hell is preferable to Heaven.

Satan utilizes antithesis in the last line of this passage to encourage his rebellious followers to understand that, in Hell, they are free and rule their own destiny. In this line, Milton contrasts not just the ideas of Hell and Heaven, but also of reign and servitude as concepts applied to the angels , respectively. Pairing these opposites by using this literary device has two effects for the reader. First, Satan’s claim foreshadows his ability to use his words describing independence to tempt Eve, resulting in her and Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Second, this antithesis invites the reader to consider Satan’s thought-process and experience to gain a deeper understanding of his motives in the poem.

Example 3:  Fire and Ice  (Robert Frost)

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

In his poem, Frost utilizes antithesis to contrast fire and ice as elements with devastating and catastrophic potential to end the world. Frost effectively demonstrates the equal powers for the destruction of these elements, despite showcasing them as opposing forces. In this case, the poet’s antithesis has a literal as well as figurative interpretation. As the poem indicates, the world could literally end in the fire as well as ice. However, fire and ice are contrasting symbols in the poem as well. Fire represents “desire,” most likely in the form of greed, the corruption of power, domination, and control. Conversely, ice represents “hate” in the form of prejudice, oppression, neglect, and isolation.

The presence of antithesis in the poem is effective for readers in that it evokes contrasting and powerful imagery of fire and ice as opposing yet physically destructive forces. In addition, the human characteristics associated with fire and ice, and what they represent as psychologically and socially destructive symbols, impact the reader in a powerful and memorable way as well. Antithesis elevates for the reader the understanding that the source of the end of the world may not be natural causes but rather human action or behavior; and that the end of the world may not be simply the destruction of the earth, but rather the destruction of humankind.

Example 4: The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives so that nation might live.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

These three examples from the address of Abraham Lincoln show the use of contradictory ideas put together in one sentence. They show how he mentions living and dead putting them side by side. This antithesis has helped Lincoln as well as America to come out of the ravages of the Civil War.

Function of Antithesis

An antithesis helps make an idea distinct and prominent when it contradicts another idea in the first part of the argument . This contrastive feature helps make readers make their argument solid, cogent, and eloquent. Sentences comprising anthesis also become easy to remember, quote, and recall when required. When an antithesis occurs in a text, it creates an argumentative atmosphere where a dialectic could take place and helps writers and speakers hook their audience easily with antithetical statements.

Synonyms of Antithesis

Antithesis has no exact synonyms but several words come closer in meanings such as opposite, reverse, converse, reversal, inverse, extreme, another side of the coin, or flip side or contrast.

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  • English Grammar
  • Figures Of Speech

Antithesis: Meaning, Definition and Examples

Figures of speech , otherwise known as rhetorical devices, are used in the English language to beautify and make your language look and sound a lot more effective rather than a literal presentation of information. Each figure of speech has its function and is meant to perform its roles giving the context a unique effect. In this article, you will learn about one such figure of speech called antithesis. Read through the article to learn more about what antithesis is, its definition and how it differs from an oxymoron. You can also check out the examples and analyse how it is written for an in-depth understanding of the same.

Table of Contents

What is antithesis – meaning and definition, what differentiates an antithesis from an oxymoron, some common examples of antithesis, frequently asked questions on antithesis.

An antithesis is a figure of speech that states strongly contrasting ideas placed in juxtaposition. They contain compound sentences with the two independent clauses separated by a comma or a semicolon , in most cases. However, there are also instances where the antithesis is a compound sentence with a conjunction . An antithesis is mainly used to portray the stark difference between the two opposing ideas.

Antithesis, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a contrast between two things”, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “a difference or opposition between two things”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a more explanatory definition. According to it, antithesis is “the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences”.

Knowing the difference between an antithesis and an oxymoron will help you comprehend and use both the rhetorical devices effectively. Take a look at the table given below to learn more.

Here are some of the most common examples of antithesis for your reference.

  • Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.
  • Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open.
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” – Charles Dickens
  • “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong
  • “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” – John Milton
  • Speech is silver, but silence is gold.
  • “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare
  • Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.
  • “To err is human; to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope
  • Money is the root of all evil: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.

What is antithesis?

An antithesis is a figure of speech that states strongly contrasting ideas placed in juxtaposition. They contain compound sentences with the two independent clauses separated by a comma or a semicolon, in most cases. However, there are also instances where the antithesis is a compound sentence with a conjunction.

What is the definition of antithesis?

What is the difference between antithesis and oxymoron.

The main difference between an antithesis and an oxymoron is that antithesis refers to the use of two contrasting ideas or thoughts conveyed in two independent clauses placed in juxtaposition, separated by a comma, a semicolon or a conjunction; whereas, the term ‘oxymoron’ refers to the use of two opposite words within a phrase to create an effect.

Give some examples of antithesis.

Here are a few examples of antithesis for your reference.

  • “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” – Goethe
  • “Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “Man proposes, God disposes.”
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Be slow in choosing, but slower in changing.

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Antithesis (Grammar and Rhetoric)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

 Richard Nordquist

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

Antithesis is a  rhetorical term for the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases or clauses . Plural: antitheses . Adjective: antithetical .

In grammatical terms, antithetical statements are parallel structures . 

"A perfectly formed antithesis," says Jeanne Fahnestock, combines " isocolon , parison , and perhaps, in an inflected language, even homoeoteleuton ; it is an overdetermined figure . The aural patterning of the antithesis, its tightness and predictability, are critical to appreciating how the syntax of the figure can be used to force semantic opposites" ( Rhetorical Figures in Science , 1999).

From the Greek, "opposition"

Examples and Observations

  • "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." (Goethe)
  • "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." (advertising slogan)
  • "There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today." (Mignon McLaughlin, The Complete Neurotic's Notebook . Castle Books, 1981)
  • "We notice things that don't work. We don't notice things that do. We notice computers, we don't notice pennies. We notice e-book readers, we don't notice books." (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time . Macmillan, 2002)
  • "Hillary has soldiered on, damned if she does, damned if she doesn't, like most powerful women, expected to be tough as nails and warm as toast at the same time." (Anna Quindlen, "Say Goodbye to the Virago." Newsweek , June 16, 2003)
  • "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way." (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities , 1859)
  • "Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours." (President Barack Obama, election night victory speech, November 7, 2012)
  • "You're easy on the eyes Hard on the heart." (Terri Clark)
  • "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." (Martin Luther King, Jr., speech at St. Louis, 1964)
  • "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." (Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address , 1863)
  • "All the joy the world contains Has come through wishing happiness for others. All the misery the world contains Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself." (Shantideva)
  • "The more acute the experience, the less articulate its expression." (Harold Pinter, "Writing for the Theatre," 1962)
  • "And let my liver rather heat with wine Than my heart cool with mortifying groans." (Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare)
  • Jack London's Credo "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dryrot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." (Jack London, quoted by his literary executor, Irving Shepard, in an introduction to a 1956 collection of London's stories)
  • Antithesis and Antitheton " Antithesis is the grammatical form of antitheton . Antitheton deals with contrasting thoughts or proofs in an argument ; Antithesis deals with contrasting words or ideas within a phrase, sentence, or paragraph." (Gregory T. Howard, Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms . Xlibris, 2010)
  • Antithesis and Antonyms Antithesis as a figure of speech exploits the existence of many 'natural' opposites in the vocabularies of all languages. Small children filling in workbooks and adolescents studying for the antonyms section of the SAT learn to match words to their opposites and so absorb much vocabulary as pairs of opposed terms, connecting up to down and bitter to sweet, pusillanimous to courageous and ephemeral to everlasting. Calling these antonyms 'natural' simply means that pairs of words can have wide currency as opposites among users of a language outside any particular context of use. Word association tests give ample evidence of the consistent linking of opposites in verbal memory when subjects given one of a pair of antonyms most often respond with the other, 'hot' triggering 'cold' or 'long' retrieving 'short' (Miller 1991, 196). An antithesis as a figure of speech at the sentence level builds on these powerful natural pairs, the use of one in the first half of the figure creating the expectation of its verbal partner in the second half." (Jeanne Fahnestock, Rhetorical Figures in Science . Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Antithesis in Films - "Since . . . the quality of a scene or image is more vividly shown when set beside its opposite, it is not surprising to find antithesis in film . . .. There is a cut in Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick) from the yellow flickers of a flaming house to a still gray courtyard, lined with soldiers, and another from the yellow candles and warm browns of a gambling room to the cool grays of a terrace by moonlight and the Countess of Lyndon in white." (N. Roy Clifton, The Figure in Film . Associated University Presses, 1983) "It is clear that in every simile there is present both differences and likenesses, and both are a part of its effect. By ignoring differences, we find a simile and may perhaps find an antithesis in the same event, by ignoring likeness. . . . - "In The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges), a passenger boards a liner by tender. This was conveyed by the two vessels' whistling. We see a convulsive spurt of water and hear a desperate, soundless puff before the siren of the tender found its voice. There was a stuttering amazement, a drunken incoordination to these elaborate preliminaries, foiled by the liner's lofty unruffled burst of sounding steam. Here things that are like, in place, in sound, and in function, are unexpectedly contrasted. The commentary lies in the differences and gains force from the likeness." (N. Roy Clifton, The Figure in Film . Associated University Presses, 1983)
  • Antithetical Observations of Oscar Wilde - “When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.” ( The Picture of Dorian Gray , 1891) - “We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow.” ("The Critic as Artist," 1991) - “Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority.” ( The Soul of Man Under Socialism , 1891) - “Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.” ("The Critic as Artist," 1991)

Pronunciation: an-TITH-uh-sis

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antithesis meaning and examples figures of speech

Figure of Speech

antithesis meaning and examples figures of speech

Figure of Speech Definition

What is a figure of speech? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

A figure of speech is a literary device in which language is used in an unusual—or "figured"—way in order to produce a stylistic effect. Figures of speech can be broken into two main groups: figures of speech that play with the ordinary meaning of words (such as metaphor , simile , and hyperbole ), and figures of speech that play with the ordinary arrangement or pattern in which words are written (such as alliteration , ellipsis , and antithesis ).

Some additional key details about figures of speech:

  • The ancient Greeks and Romans exhaustively listed, defined, and categorized figures of speech in order to better understand how to effectively use language. The names of most figures of speech derive from the original Greek or Latin.
  • Figures of speech that play with the literal meaning of words are called tropes , while figures of speech that play with the order or pattern of words are called schemes .
  • Figures of speech can take many forms. A figure of speech can involve a single word, a phrase, an omission of a word or phrase, a repetition of words or sounds, or specific sentence structures.

Figure of Speech Pronunciation

Here's how to pronounce figure of speech: fig -yer of speech

Figures of Speech vs. Figurative Language

There's a lot of confusion about the difference between the terms "figures of speech" and " figurative language ." Most of the confusion stems from the fact that different people often use "figurative language" to mean slightly different things. The two most common (and most acceptable) definitions of figurative language are:

  • Figurative language refers to any language that contains figures of speech. According to this definition, figurative language and figures of speech are not quite the same thing, but it's pretty darn close. The only difference is that figures of speech refer to each specific type of a figure of speech, while figurative language refers more generally to any language that contains any kind of figures of speech.
  • Figurative language refers to words or expressions that have non-literal meanings : This definition associates figurative language only with the category of figures of speech called tropes (which are figures of speech that play with the literal meaning of words). So according to this definition, figurative language would be any language that contains tropes, but not language that contains the figures of speech called schemes.

You might encounter people using figurative speech to mean either of the above, and it's not really possible to say which is correct. But if you know about these two different ways of relating figurative language and figures of speech, you'll be in pretty good shape.

Figures of Speech, Tropes, and Schemes

The oldest and still most common way to organize figures of speech is to split them into two main groups: tropes and schemes.

  • Tropes are figures of speech that involve a deviation from the expected and literal meaning of words.
  • Schemes are figures of speech that involve a deviation from the typical mechanics of a sentence, such as the order, pattern, or arrangement of words.

The scheme/trope classification system is by no means the only way to organize figures of speech (if you're interested, you can find all sorts of different categorization methods for figures of speech here ). But it is the most common method, and is both simple and structured enough to help you understand figures of speech.

Generally, a trope uses comparison, association, or wordplay to play with the literal meaning of words or to layer another meaning on top of a word's literal meaning. Some of the most commonly used tropes are explained briefly below, though you can get even more detail on each from its specific LitCharts entry.

  • Metaphor : A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things by stating that one thing is another thing, even though this isn't literally true. For example, if someone says "it's raining cats and dogs," this obviously doesn't literally mean what it says—it's a metaphor that makes a comparison between the weight of "cats and dogs" and heavy rain. Metaphors are tropes because their effect relies not on the mechanics of the sentence, but rather on the association created by the use of the phrase "cats and dogs" in a non-literal manner.
  • Simile : A simile, like a metaphor, makes a comparison between two unrelated things. However, instead of stating that one thing is another thing (as in metaphor), a simile states that one thing is like another thing. To stick with cats and dogs, an example of a simile would be to say "they fought like cats and dogs."
  • Oxymoron : An oxymoron pairs contradictory words in order to express new or complex meanings. In the phrase "parting is such sweet sorrow" from Romeo and Juliet , "sweet sorrow" is an oxymoron that captures the complex and simultaneous feelings of pain and pleasure associated with passionate love. Oxymorons are tropes because their effect comes from a combination of the two words that goes beyond the literal meanings of those words.
  • Hyperbole : A hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration of the truth, used to emphasize the importance of something or to create a comic effect. An example of a hyperbole is to say that a backpack "weighs a ton." No backpack literally weighs a ton, but to say "my backpack weighs ten pounds" doesn't effectively communicate how burdensome a heavy backpack feels. Once again, this is a trope because its effect comes from understanding that the words mean something different from what they literally say.

Other Common Tropes

  • Antanaclasis
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Personification
  • Periphrasis
  • Rhetorical Question

Schemes are mechanical—they're figures of speech that tinker with words, sounds, and structures (as opposed to meanings) in order to achieve an effect. Schemes can themselves be broken down in helpful ways that define the sort of tinkering they employ.

  • Repetition: Repeating words, phrases, or even sounds in a particular way.
  • Omission: Leaving out certain words or punctuation that would normally be expected.
  • Changes of word order: Shifting around words or phrases in atypical ways.
  • Balance: Creating sentences or phrases with equal parts, often through the use of identical grammatical structures.

Some of the most commonly used schemes are explained briefly below, though you can get even more detail on each from its specific LitCharts entry.

  • Alliteration : In alliteration, the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the “b” sound in: “ B ob b rought the b ox of b ricks to the b asement.” Alliteration uses repetition to create a musical effect that helps phrases to stand out from the language around them.
  • Assonance : A scheme in which vowel sounds repeat in nearby words, such as the "ee" sound in the proverb: "the squ ea ky wh ee l gets the gr ea se." Like alliteration, assonance uses repeated sounds to create a musical effect in which words echo one another—it's a scheme because this effect is achieved through repetition of words with certain sounds, not by playing with the meaning of words.
  • Ellipsis : The deliberate omission of one or more words from a sentence because their meaning is already implied. In the example, "Should I call you, or you me?" the second clause uses ellipsis. While its implication is "or should you call me," the context of the sentence allows for the omission of "should" and "call." Ellipsis is a scheme because it involves an uncommon usage of language.
  • Parallelism : The repetition of sentence structure for emphasis and balance. This can occur in a single sentence, such as "a penny saved is a penny earned," and it can also occur over the course of a speech, poem, or other text. Parallelism is a scheme because it creates emphasis through the mechanics of sentence structure, rather than by playing with the actual meanings of words.

Other Common Schemes

  • Anadiplosis
  • Antimetabole
  • Brachylogia
  • Epanalepsis
  • Parenthesis
  • Polysyndeton

Figure of Speech Examples

Figures of speech can make language more inventive, more beautiful, more rhythmic, more memorable, and more meaningful. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that figures of speech are plentiful in all sorts of written language. The examples below show a variety of different types of figures of speech. You can see many more examples of each type at their own specific LitChart entries.

Figures of Speech Examples in Literature

Literature is riddled with figures of speech because figures of speech make language colorful and complex.

Metaphor in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

On and on, now east now west, wound the poor thread that once had been our drive. Sometimes I thought it lost, but it appeared again, beneath a fallen tree perhaps, or struggling on the other side of a muddied ditch created by the winter rains.

In this quote from Rebecca , Daphne du Maurier refers to a washed-out road as "the poor thread." This is a metaphor —and a trope—because the writer indirectly compares the thread to the road and expects that readers will understand that "thread" is not used literally.

Parallelism in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

In the famous opening line of A Tale of Two Cities , Dickens uses parallelism —a scheme in which parts of a sentence repeat—in order to emphasize the contradictions of the time in which the book is set. Dickens has manipulated his sentence structure so that the parallel clauses emphasize the oppositional nature of his words ("it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"). The figure of speech doesn't play with the meaning of words, it emphasizes them through structure and repetition, which is why it is a scheme.

Alliteration in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark"

In this manner, s electing it as the s ymbol of his wife's liability to s in, s orrow, d ecay, and d eath, Aylmer's s ombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana's beauty, whether of s oul or s ense, had given him delight.

This passage from " The Birthmark " uses alliteration to tie together all of the things that Georgiana's birthmark is supposed to symbolize. By using words that alliterate—"sin and sorrow" and "decay and death," for example—Hawthorne is making the reader feel that these ideas are connected, rather than simply stating that they are connected. Alliteration is a figure of speech—a scheme—because it uses the mechanics of language to emphasize meaning.

Verbal Irony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they all, all honorable men,

This quote from Julius Caesar comes from Marc Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral. Antony needs to hold Brutus and his conspirators accountable for Caesar's death without contradicting the crowd's positive impression of Brutus, so Antony uses verbal irony to simultaneously please and trouble the crowd. On the surface, Antony says what the audience wants to hear (that Brutus is honorable), but it becomes clear over the course of his speech that he means the opposite of what he says (and over time he convinces the audience to believe this opposite meaning as well). This is a figure of speech (a trope) because it's based on a play on the meaning of Antony's words.

Figures of Speech Examples in Music

Figures of speech are also common in music. Schemes fit naturally with songs because both schemes and songs manipulate sound and rhythm to enhance the meanings of words. Music also uses many tropes, because using words that have meanings beyond their literal ones makes language more interesting, and it allows songwriters to create music that uses just a few words to imply a complex meaning.

Assonance and Metaphor in Rihanna's "Diamonds"

So sh ine br igh t ton igh t, you and I We're beautiful l i ke d i amonds in the sk y Eye to eye , so al i ve We're beautiful l i ke d i amonds in the sk y

Rihanna uses assonance when she repeats the " eye " sound throughout the chorus of "Diamonds." This make the words echo one another, which emphasizes the similarity between the singer, the person she's talking about, and the "diamonds in the sky" to which she's comparing them both. Assonance is a scheme because it's using the sound of words—not their meaning—to draw a parallel between different things.

Rihanna also uses the phrase "Diamonds in the sky" as a metaphor for stars. This is a trope—a phrase that means something other than what it literally says—as Rihanna obviously doesn't think that there are actually diamonds in the sky. This verse is a good example of how figures of speech can often work together and overlap. In this case, the metaphor that allows her to use "diamonds" instead of "stars" also fits into her use of assonance (because "stars" lacks the "eye" sound).

Personification in Green Day's "Good Riddance"

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

While the first line of this song uses "a fork stuck in the road" as a metaphor for a choice, the more arresting figure of speech at work here is the personification of time in the second line. By giving "time" human characteristics—the ability to grab a person and tell them where to go—Green Day is helping listeners to make sense of the power that time has over people. This is a trope because the line doesn't mean what it literally says; instead, it's asking listeners to make a comparison between the characteristics of time and the characteristics of a person.

Anastrophe in Public Enemy's "Fight the Power"

Straight up racist that sucker was Simple and plain

In the line "Straight up racist that sucker was," Public Enemy uses anastrophe (which is the inversion of typical word order) to preserve the rhythm of the verse. Instead of saying "That sucker was straight up racist," Public Enemy chooses an odd phrasing that has one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables— " ra cist that su cker was/ Sim ple and plain ." This way, the beat falls more regularly across those two lines, which allows the rapper to make his point (that Elvis was racist) without the flow sounding awkward. Since anastrophe manipulates the order of words in order to achieve a rhythmic effect, it's a scheme.

Why Do Writers Use Figures of Speech?

Figures of speech is a category that encompasses a broad variety of literary terms, so it's difficult to give one answer to this question. Writers use different figures of speech to achieve different effects.

Schemes (figures of speech that manipulate sound, syntax, and word order) can make language more beautiful, persuasive, or memorable. Writers can use schemes to draw attention to an important passage, to create a sound that mirrors (or contrasts with) the meaning of words, or to give language a rhythm that draws the reader in. As schemes tend to work through sound and rhythm, they generally produce a visceral effect, or an effect felt in the body—broadly speaking, schemes are more sensory than intellectual.

In contrast, writers use tropes to grab the reader intellectually by adding complexity or ambiguity to an otherwise simple word or phrase. Tropes can ask the reader to make a comparison between two unlike things, they can impose human qualities on nonhumans, and they can mean the opposite of what they say. Tropes engage the intellect because the reader has to be alert to the fact that tropes do not use language at face value—a trope never means what it literally says.

All figures of speech help a writer to communicate ideas that are difficult to say in words or that are more effectively communicated non-verbally. This could be by repeating harsh consonants to create a scary atmosphere, or by using a metaphor to impose the qualities of something concrete (say, a rose) onto something more difficult to define (say, love). In general, figures of speech attempt to bring out a reader's emotion and to capture their attention by making language more colorful, surprising, and complex.

Other Helpful Figure of Speech Resources

  • Silva Rhetoricae on Figures of Speech : An excellent reference from BYU that explains the various ways that figures of speech have been categorized over history, including into schemes and tropes.
  • Silva Rhetoricae on schemes and tropes :
  • The Oxford Reference Page for Figure of Speech : A helpful definition of figures of speech in the context of the ancient study of rhetoric (did you know that the Roman rhetorician Quintillian defined "figure of speech" in 95 AD?)
  • What Are Tropes in Language? Skip to the "Distinction Between Figures and Tropes" section and read to the end—full of informative and thought-provoking discussion about tropes.
  • A YouTube video about tropes and schemes with pop culture examples.

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Literary Devices

Literary devices, terms, and elements, definition of antithesis.

Antithesis is the use of contrasting concepts, words, or sentences within parallel grammatical structures. This combination of a balanced structure with opposite ideas serves to highlight the contrast between them. For example, the following famous Muhammad Ali quote is an example of antithesis: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” This is an antithesis example because there is the contrast between the animals and their actions (the peaceful floating butterfly versus the aggressive stinging bee) combined with the parallel grammatical structure of similes indicated by “like a.” Ali is indicating the contrasting skills necessary to be a good boxer.

Difference Between Antithesis and Juxtaposition

Antithesis is very similar to juxtaposition , as juxtaposition also sets two different things close to each other to emphasize the difference between them. However, juxtaposition does not necessarily deal with completely opposite ideas—sometimes the juxtaposition may be between two similar things so that the reader will notice the subtle differences. Juxtaposition also does not necessitate a parallel grammatical structure. The definition of antithesis requires this balanced grammatical structure.

Common Examples of Antithesis

The use of antithesis is very popular in speeches and common idioms, as the inherent contrasts often make antithesis quite memorable. Here are some examples of antithesis from famous speeches:

  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” –John F. Kennedy Jr.
  • “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” –Barack Obama
  • “Decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” –Winston Churchill
  • “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” –Abraham Lincoln

Significance of Antithesis in Literature

Antithesis can be a helpful tool for the author both to show a character’s mindset and to set up an argument . If the antithesis is something that the character is thinking, the audience can better understand the full scope of that character’s thoughts. While antithesis is not the most ubiquitous of literary devices , some authors use antithesis quite extensively, such as William Shakespeare. Many of his sonnets and plays include examples of antithesis.

Examples of Antithesis in Literature

HAMLET: To be, or not to be, that is the question— Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them?

( Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

Arguably the most famous six words in all of Shakespeare’s work are an example of antithesis. Hamlet considers the important question of “to be, or not to be.” In this line, he is considering the very nature of existence itself. Though the line is quite simple in form it contrasts these very important opposite states. Hamlet sets up his soliloquy with this antithesis and continues with others, including the contrast between suffering whatever fortune has to offer or opposing his troubles. This is a good example of Shakespeare using antithesis to present to the audience or readers Hamlet’s inner life and the range of his thinking.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

( A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

The opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities employs many different literary devices all at once. There are many examples of antithesis back-to-back, starting with the first contrast between “the best of times” and “the worst of times.” Each pair of contrasting opposites uses a parallel structure to emphasize their differences. Dickens uses these antithetical pairs to show what a tumultuous time it was during the setting of his book. In this case, the use of antithesis is a rhetorical device that foreshadows the conflicts that will be central to the novel.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

( Catch-22 by Joseph Heller)

In Joseph Heller’s classic anti-war novel Catch-22 , Heller uses a specific type of humor in which antithetical statements show the true absurdity of war. This very famous quote explains the concept of the “Catch-22,” which became a popular idiomatic expression because of the book. In fact, this example is not so much an antithetical statement but instead an antithetical situation. That is to say, the two possible outcomes for Orr are opposite: either he’s deemed crazy and would thus not be forced to fly any more combat missions, or he’s sane and then would indeed have to fly them. However, the one situation negates the possibility of the other, as only a sane man would be clear-headed enough to ask not to fly more missions.

This case is not a difficult one, it requires no minute sifting of complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant.

( To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird , Atticus Finch is a lawyer representing Tom Robinson. Atticus presents the above statement to the jury, setting up an antithesis. He asserts that the case is not difficult and yet requires the jury to be absolutely sure of their decision. Atticus believes the case to have a very obvious conclusion, and hopes that the jury will agree with him, but he is also aware of the societal tensions at work that will complicate the case.

Test Your Knowledge of Antithesis

1. What is the correct antithesis definition? A. Using two very similar concepts and showing their subtle differences. B. Setting up a contrast between two opposite ideas or phrases in a balanced grammatical structure. C. Using words to convey an opposite meaning to their literal sense.

2. What is the difference between antithesis and juxtaposition? A. They are exactly the same device. B. They are completely different literary devices. C. Antithesis parallels opposite concepts, while juxtaposition sets up a comparison and contrast between two concepts that can be either similar or different.

3. Which of the following quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth contains an example of antithesis? A. 

WITCHES: Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
MACBETH: Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?
WITCHES: Something wicked this way comes.

4. Which of the following quotes from Heller’s Catch-22 contains an example of antithesis? A. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many counties can’t all be worth dying for. B. He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive. C. You’re inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age?

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antithesis meaning and examples figures of speech

When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon he said, 'that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' – this is a famous example of antithesis. Antithesis is a literary device used to show the difference or contrast between two objects. Synonyms for antithesis are 'opposite' or 'contrast.' Antithesis can be found in everyday use of figures of speech. 

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When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon he said, 'that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' – this is a famous example of antithesis. Antithesis is a literary device used to show the difference or contrast between two objects. Synonyms for antithesis are 'opposite' or 'contrast.' Antithesis can be found in everyday use of figures of speech.

Antithesis: meaning and synonyms

Antithesis is a commonly used literary device that can be found in novels, poems, plays and in our day to day speech.

Antithesis – A literary device that states that two objects are different from each other

This is a type of literary device that can be used to highlight the differences between two objects in a positive or negative way. There are many synonyms for antithesis, including, opposite or contrast. Antithesis can be used in two ways.

1. To juxtapose two different ideas

This type of antithesis is commonly used alongside parallelism.

Parallelism – Phrases placed in succession to each other that use the same grammatical structure.

Writers are able to use the two devices together to pair opposite objects together in their sentences. When antithesis and parallelism are used at the same time, this creates rhythm. An example of antithesis being used alongside parallelism is seen in the song 'Hello Goodbye' (1967) by The Beatles:

You say yes, I say no

The phrase 'You say yes' is mirrored in the second half of the sentence, 'I say no'. There are also two forms of antithesis in this sentence, 'you' is the antithesis of 'I' and 'yes' is the antithesis of 'no'. By using antithesis, the singer is showing how different he is to the other person.

2. To describe one thing as the opposite of another

Another way to use antithesis is as a way to describe one thing as the opposite of the other. When antithesis is used this way it is meant to create a contrast between two objects. Sometimes, this will be done by using the word 'antithesis' itself in the sentence, this can be seen below,

He is the antithesis of a good friend.

Here, the word 'antithesis' is used to imply that the person is the opposite of a good friend.

Antithesis: examples

Examples of antithesis can be found across media, including literature – from poems and songs to novels and our everyday speech.

Figures of speech

Figures of speech are phrases that are used in a non-literal sense for effect and we use them in our everyday speech.

A figure of speech – A word or phrase that is used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical effect.

Antithesis is used frequently in figures of speech to provide a reason for something. Below are two examples of figures of speech that use antithesis.

Easy come, easy go

We know that these figures of speech use antithesis as they use objects that are the opposite of each other. In the first example, 'come' is the opposite of 'go' as the former is to enter into something, while the latter is to leave. From this, we know that the figure of speech is being used to mean that if something comes easily, it will also leave easily.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

The second example is similar to the first one, as we can infer what the figure of speech means. The word 'junk' (or rubbish) is the opposite of 'treasure'. This means that the figure of speech is saying that what is rubbish to one man, will be treasured by another.

Some of the most famous phrases that use antithesis come from plays. This is frequently noted in the plays of William Shakespeare , who used antithesis as a dramatic device when writing his works. Antithesis can be used in plays to show the differences between characters and their motivations, as well as to show a character's inner strife. One of the most well-known examples of this is seen in Shakespeare's play Hamlet (1603)

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

Here, Shakespeare uses antithesis to show that Hamlet is asking himself an important question; 'to live, or to die?'. The presence of antithesis may be harder to see here than in modern writing. However, the use of the word 'not' shows that the device is being used. Shakespeare contrasts the phrase 'to be' with 'not to be', showing that the character is questioning his own mortality. Antithesis is used at a crucial point in this play to relay to the audience Hamlet 's internal conflict .

Antithesis can also be frequently found in poetry. Antithesis is commonly seen alongside parallelism when it is used in poetry. It is effective when used in poetry as an antithesis can be used to reinforce rhythm in the poem. It can also contribute to the overall lyrical quality of the poem. An example of antithesis in poetry can be found in 'Fire and Ice' (1920) by Robert Frost .

'Fire' is hot and is, therefore, the antithesis of 'ice' which is cold. However, there is a second antithesis that is also present in the poem. The poem centres around ways the world may end, and so, 'fire' and 'ice' also are used as symbols for different causes of the earth's destruction. 'Fire' is a metaphor for greed, while 'ice' is a metaphor for hate or bigotry. Therefore, Frost uses antithesis for both the elements and what they represent.

Antithesis is also used commonly in novels. Here, an antithesis can be used to set up conflicts between characters, themes or settings in the novel . Antithesis can also be used to draw the reader's attention to a certain word or phrase. This will make it more memorable, especially if it is a theme that will be used throughout the novel. One of the most well-known examples of antithesis in literature is seen in Charles Dickens ' A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

This is an example of parallelism and antithesis being used at the same time as the sentence mirrors itself. If the sentence is divided in two at the comma, it can be seen that the two halves are the same, except for the words 'best' and 'worst'. From this, the reader can gather that in the city, some people had a good time, while others did not. This sets up a conflict that is at the heart of the novel .

Antithesis: the use of and effect

When used correctly antithesis can be an extremely effective device. Antithesis can be used to show how vastly different two things are, as it places the objects side by side for comparison. This is particularly effective in persuasive writing such as a speech or argument. In persuasive writing, antithesis is also a useful device as it can highlight why what you are arguing for is better than what you are arguing against.

Antithesis is also effective when used in poems and novels. If anthesis is used as a literary device it can help create a rhythm throughout the poem. This is especially effective when used alongside parallelism. Antithesis can be used to create a lyrical effect on the writing, making it sound more musical. This is effective as it helps make writing more memorable.

Antithesis - Key takeaways

  • Antithesis is a literary device that states that two objects are different from each other.
  • It can be used alongside parallelism.
  • It can be used to contrast two objects or show that one is the opposite of another.
  • Antithesis can be found in persuasive writing, poems, figures of speech and plays.
  • Antithesis can be used to create rhythm or to make an argument.

Frequently Asked Questions about Antithesis

--> what is antithesis.

Antithesis is a literary device that states that two objects are different from each other 

--> What are examples of antithesis?

Examples of antithesis include, the figure of speech 'easy come, easy go' and 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' from A Tale of Two Cities (1859)  by Charles Dickens.

--> How do you use antithesis in a sentence?

To use antithesis in a sentence, first pick two objects that are the opposite of each other, for example 'best' and 'worst'. Next work out what you want to say, for example, that you should be optimistic, but still prepare for bad things to happen. Try and shorten your idea using your opposite words, 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst'. 

--> Is antithesis the same as opposite?

Yes, antithesis and opposite are effectively the same thing and can be used as synonyms of each other. However, antithesis will sometimes also be used in conjunction with parallelism also. 

--> What are the uses of antithesis?

Antithesis is useful in writing as it can be used in arguments to show why one idea is better than another. It is also effective in literary works as it can be used to create rhythm, establish conflicts and make an idea more memorable. 

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

Which word is a synonym for antithesis?

True or False: Antithesis will never be used in the same sentence as parallelism.

Can antithesis be used to juxtapose two different ideas?

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Flashcards in Antithesis 14

What is antithesis?

Antithesis is a literary device that states that two objects are different to each other.

False! Antithesis and parallelism are frequently used together in sentences. 

What is parallelism?

Parallelism is when phrases are placed in succession to each other that use the same grammatical structure.

Yes! Antithesis can be used to juxtapose two different ideas. 

Which is an example of parallelism and antithesis being used at the same time?

'To be, or not to be'

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What Is an Antithesis? Definition & 15+ Examples

Ever wondered how great writers and speakers create captivating contrasts to emphasize their points and leave you pondering?

The secret behind these mesmerizing moments often lies in the use of a powerful rhetorical tool called antithesis . This technique employs oppositional language to present contrasting ideas, which adds depth, color, and intrigue to language, leaving audiences eager for more.

From speeches to literature, antithesis has long been appreciated as a valuable component of persuasive and thought-provoking communication. Exploring these instances helps to deepen our understanding of how antithesis functions, as well as why it continues to be a beloved and effective rhetorical device in various forms of expression.

Let’s take a closer look:

Table of Contents

What Is Antithesis?

Antithesis is a figure of speech that uses parallelism to present opposing ideas. In essence, it is the juxtaposition of contrasting concepts, usually in balanced or parallel phrases, to create a heightened effect in a sentence or expression.

This rhetorical device can emphasize the differences between two opposing ideas, allowing the writer or speaker to deliver a powerful message more effectively.

In simple terms, “antithesis” is the opposition or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced construction. This technique is often employed to:

  • Strengthen an argument.
  • Emphasize a point.
  • Create a vivid and memorable image for the reader or listener.

Antithesis can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, prose, and speeches, and is often used to give emphasis to the importance of a particular idea or theme.

There are several ways in which antithesis can be presented:

  • Word Antithesis: The use of opposing words or phrases, such as “love and hate” or “good and evil.”
  • Ideological Antithesis: The expression of opposing beliefs or principles, such as “freedom versus tyranny” or “democracy versus totalitarianism.”
  • Structural Antithesis: The arrangement of contrasting ideas in a parallel form, often using parallelism or repetition to highlight the contrast.

Employing antithesis can make language more expressive and engaging, drawing attention to the ideas being presented and making them more memorable. It serves as an effective tool for writers and speakers who seek to create a lasting impact on their audience through the power of opposing concepts.

Origins and History of Antithesis

Antithesis, derived from the Greek word “ antitithenai ,” which means “to set against,” is a figure of speech in which two opposing ideas are juxtaposed in a balanced, parallel manner. This deliberate contrast serves to heighten the impact of the ideas being presented and contributes to the overall strength and effectiveness of the argument.

Antithesis can be traced back to classical rhetoric , the art of effective and persuasive communication. It emerged prominently as a stylistic device in the works of ancient Greek and Roman orators and writers who sought to:

  • Craft impactful arguments
  • Create memorable phrases

The roots of antithesis lie in the use of parallelism , a rhetorical tool that involves expressing contrasting or opposing ideas in a balanced and parallel structure. This technique was employed by classical rhetoricians to emphasize the contrasts in their arguments and engage their audience effectively.

Throughout history, numerous famous orators and writers have demonstrated a mastery of antithesis. Here are some notable examples:

The ancient Greek philosopher was a skilled rhetorician, and his works often exemplified antithesis. In his work, Rhetoric , he provided a thorough analysis of various rhetorical techniques, including antithesis, to help his students persuasively convey their ideas.

As one of Rome’s greatest orators and a renowned lawyer, Cicero was well-versed in rhetorical devices. His speeches frequently utilized antithesis to emphasize particular points and create powerful statements that resonated with his audience.

William Shakespeare

The famous playwright often employed antithesis in his works, emphasizing contrasts and creating memorable lines. One of the most famous examples of antithesis in literature can be found in his play, Hamlet , with the line, “To be or not to be.”

Abraham Lincoln

The 16th President of the United States was also an adept user of antithesis. In his famous Gettysburg Address, Lincoln used antithesis to create a moving and poignant speech that resonates with audiences to this day.

These prominent figures from ancient Greece to modern times have utilized antithesis as an effective means of emphasizing contrasts and crafting impactful phrases, showcasing the enduring appeal of this rhetorical device.

Function and Purpose of Antithesis

It balances ideas, engages minds, and inspires reflection.

Antithesis serves several significant functions in both written and spoken language. Its primary purpose is to create balance , contrast , and emphasis , highlighting the differences between two opposing ideas or concepts.

By utilizing antithesis, writers, and speakers can effectively engage their readers or listeners and provoke thoughtful considerations of opposing viewpoints.

It Acts as a Catalyst for Deeper Understanding

The use of antithesis stimulates intellectual curiosity, prompting readers or listeners to ponder the implications of juxtaposing contrasting ideas.

This rhetorical device encourages deeper understanding and fuller appreciation of the complexities inherent in language and human thought. As a result, antithesis enhances the impact of a piece of writing or speech.

It Enhances Focus and Fosters Analytical Thinking

In addition, antithesis is an effective method for drawing attention to crucial points or ideas.

By bringing opposition to the forefront, it emphasizes the significance of contemplating various perspectives, which in turn fosters an open and analytical mindset. This technique is particularly beneficial in persuasive writing and speaking, as it can help sway the audience toward a specific stance or argument.

Examples of ways to employ antithesis include:

  • Pairing opposite adjectives, such as “cold” and “hot,” to emphasize the extremity of the subject.
  • Using contrasting phrases, like “sink or swim,” to underline the importance of a decision or action.
  • Juxtaposing conflicting concepts or proposals, such as “peace” and “war,” to examine the consequences of each.

Types of Antithesis

Antithesis can be broadly divided into two categories: Verbal Antithesis and Conceptual Antithesis. Each type serves a different purpose in conveying opposing ideas or concepts in a piece of writing or speech.

Verbal Antithesis

Verbal Antithesis involves the use of words or phrases with opposite meanings in a single sentence or expression. This type of antithesis serves to emphasize the contrast between two opposing ideas by placing them in close proximity to one another.

Examples can include the use of:

  • Oxymorons , where contradictory terms are combined.
  • Parallelism , where contrasting words or phrases are structured similarly.

Some examples of Verbal Antithesis are:

  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (Charles Dickens)
  • “To err is human, to forgive divine.” (Alexander Pope)
  • “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” (William Shakespeare)

Conceptual Antithesis

Conceptual Antithesis, on the other hand, does not rely on wordplay or linguistic contrasts. Instead, it focuses on presenting contrasting concepts or ideas in a larger context, such as within a narrative, argument, or theme.

This type of antithesis often involves juxtaposing characters, situations, or themes to highlight their differences and create tension or conflict. Examples can be found in various forms of literature and art, including:

  • The opposing forces of good and evil in many religious texts.
  • The conflicting moral perspectives in novels, such as in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” where Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson contrasts with the racism of the townspeople.
  • The clashing beliefs and values in philosophical debates, like those between Socrates and the Sophists in ancient Greece.

Examples in Literature

Antithesis is a powerful literary device that writers have employed to create memorable works of poetry, prose, and drama. The use of antithesis not only heightens tension and deepens meaning within literature but it also heightens the reader’s experience and understanding.

Shakespeare

Known for his command of language, Shakespeare often employed antithesis in his plays and sonnets. One of the most famous examples is found in Hamlet’s soliloquy:

In this instance, the contrasting ideas of “ being ” and “not being” emphasize the central conflict of Hamlet’s character and the existential questions he grapples with throughout the play.

Charles Dickens

Antithesis can also be found in the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ celebrated novel, A Tale of Two Cities :

Dickens’ pairing of opposites establishes the novel’s social and political setting, which is characterized by paradoxical contrasts and deep divisions among the characters.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice utilizes antithesis to highlight the differing perspectives of its main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Consider the following line:

This statement juxtaposes the idea of universal truth and personal desire, reflecting the novel’s themes of social expectations and individual choices.

Robert Frost

The celebrated poet Robert Frost deftly utilized antithesis in his work, such as in the poem Fire and Ice :

With the contrast between “ fire ” and “ ice ,” Frost explores the dual destructive forces of passion and indifference in human nature.

Examples in Speeches

Antithesis not only adds stylistic flair to speeches, but also enhances their rhetorical impact and persuasive effect. Below are examples from some famous speeches that demonstrate the use of antithesis.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is considered one of the most powerful and well-crafted speeches in history. One effective example of antithesis in this speech is:

Lincoln contrasts words and actions, emphasizing the sacrificial deeds of the soldiers.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill’s speeches during World War II showcased his strong rhetorical skills. An example of antithesis in his famous Iron Curtain speech is:

Here, the physical location contrasts with the figurative iron curtain, underlining the division of eastern and western Europe.

Martin Luther King Jr.

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, he utilized antithesis to communicate his vision for a more inclusive and equal society. An example is:

King juxtaposes skin color and character, highlighting the content of one’s character as the more important factor for judgment.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address also contains a well-known example of antithesis:

This statement reverses the expectations of the listener, placing emphasis on the civic responsibilities of citizens rather than government assistance.

Tips and Tricks: Mastering the Use of Antithesis

Mastering the use of antithesis can greatly enhance the effectiveness of writing and speech. In this section, we will discuss practical advice for incorporating antithesis effectively and ways to avoid common pitfalls.

Identifying Contrasting Ideas

Antithesis relies on the presentation of contrasting ideas to create emphasis and interest. To use this device effectively, one must first identify clear and meaningful contrasting ideas. Here are some suggestions:

  • Consider the theme or topic of your writing or speech, and think about opposing viewpoints.
  • Keep the contrasting ideas relevant to the central message.
  • Identify contrasts in characterization, situation, or opinion.

Using Parallel Structures

Parallelism is a crucial aspect of using antithesis effectively. It serves to create balance and clarity in the presentation of contrasting ideas. To ensure parallelism:

  • Identify the grammatical structure of the first half of the antithesis and maintain the same structure in the second half.
  • Use similar syntax, word order, and punctuation to create a sense of symmetry.
  • Maintain consistency in verb tense, voice, and mood throughout the antithesis.

Taking care to identify strong contrasting ideas and maintaining parallelism in the presentation of those ideas will ensure that antithesis is used effectively in writing and speech.

A Rich Tapestry: Related Terms and Concepts

In order to expand our understanding of antithesis, it is helpful to explore related rhetorical devices, such as oxymoron, paradox, and chiasmus. These terms may appear to be similar, but they each have distinct characteristics and functions within the realm of rhetoric and language:

An oxymoron occurs when two contradictory terms are placed side by side to form a new meaning. Examples of oxymorons include “deafening silence” and “bittersweet.”

A paradox is a statement or situation that seems to be contradictory but holds an element of truth. For instance, “less is more” and “I know that I know nothing” are paradoxical statements that reveal deeper truths.

Chiasmus involves the reversal of parallel grammatical structures, creating a crisscross pattern in a sentence or phrase. An example of chiasmus would be “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

While these devices share the common trait of using contrast, their mechanisms and effects differ.

  • In antithesis , opposing ideas are juxtaposed to emphasize the differences between them. For example, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
  • Oxymoron is a condensed form of antithesis. It also focuses on contrast, but it conveys the opposing ideas through adjacent words rather than phrases or clauses.
  • Paradox appears self-contradictory, but provides deeper insight upon closer examination. Unlike antithesis, which highlights the contrast between ideas, paradox seeks to reconcile the contradiction to reveal an underlying truth.
  • Chiasmus creates a mirror-like structure in which elements are repeated in reverse order. While its primary function is to create balance and harmony, it can also be used to emphasize contrast, much like antithesis.

Case Studies: Analyzing the Use of Antithesis in Different Contexts

In this section, we will explore the use of antithesis in different fields including politics, advertising, and everyday conversation.

This rhetorical device is an effective means of creating a contrast to emphasize a particular point, and while it may be more commonly associated with literature and poetry, antithesis can be found throughout various forms of communication.

Politicians often use antithesis to draw attention to contrasting ideas and to emphasize their viewpoints.

For example, in his 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy employed antithesis when he urged Americans to:

By contrasting the individual’s responsibility toward their nation with the nation’s responsibility toward its citizens, Kennedy emphasized the significance of civic duty and personal responsibility in shaping the country’s future.

Advertising

In the world of advertising, antithesis is often used to create memorable slogans and to emphasize the unique selling points of a product or service. For example, a famous Mercedes-Benz tagline reads:

The contrasting phrases emphasize the idea that Mercedes-Benz automobiles stand out from the competition due to their engineering excellence. Such juxtaposition of opposing ideas helps reinforce the brand message and make it more memorable to potential consumers.

Everyday Conversation

Antithesis can also be found in our everyday conversations as it helps us emphasize contrasts, express humor, or simply make a point more clearly.

A common use of antithesis is in expressions like “ I t was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” taken from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities . We also encounter antithesis when people use expressions like “You’re either with us, or against us,” highlighting the lack of middle ground in a situation.

These examples demonstrate how contrasting ideas, skillfully articulated through antithesis, can add depth and meaning to our daily interactions.

Understanding the Downside of Antithesis

While the use of antithesis can be an effective rhetorical strategy, it has certain drawbacks that are worth considering:

The Oversimplification Trap

One of the main concerns is the potential for oversimplification. When presenting two contrasting ideas, it can be easy to reduce complex issues into a simplistic binary choice, which may ignore important nuances.

Beware of False Dichotomies

Another downside is the risk of creating false dichotomies. In some cases, the use of antithesis may unintentionally reinforce the idea that only two opposing options exist, when in reality, alternative solutions or perspectives may be available. This can lead to limited critical thinking and hinder the exploration of other viewpoints.

Misrepresentation and Distortion

Additionally, the emphasis on opposition in antithesis can sometimes lead to a misrepresentation of the ideas being contrasted. The need to create a stark difference can encourage exaggeration or distortion of the original concepts, thereby weakening the overall argument.

Overuse: Striking a Balance

Lastly, overuse of antithesis can detract from the primary message of an argument or a text, by drawing attention away from the main points and focusing on the contrasts alone. As with any rhetorical device, moderation and careful consideration should be employed when using antithesis to communicate effectively.

Overuse and Misuse of Antithesis

While antithesis can be a powerful rhetorical device, it is essential to understand the potential pitfalls of overusing or misusing it in writing or speech.

  • An overuse of antithesis may lead to the loss of its impact and may obscure the intended message.
  • An misuse of antithesis can result in weak or illogical arguments.

Overuse Issues

One issue with the overuse of antithesis is that it can become repetitive and predictable. Similar to other rhetorical devices, antithesis works best when used sparingly and with purpose. Overusing antithesis can make the text monotonous and tedious to read, thus undermining the effectiveness of the arguments being presented.

Misuse Issues

When antithesis is misused, it can lead to the creation of false dichotomies or straw man arguments.

This occurs when a writer or speaker presents two opposing viewpoints in an attempt to create a strong contrast, but it ends up oversimplifying or misrepresenting the actual positions being debated. This weakens the overall argument and can make the writer or speaker seem less credible.

How to Avoid Them

To avoid overuse and misuse of antithesis, follow these guidelines:

  • Use antithesis purposefully and strategically to emphasize a particular point.
  • Be selective in the number of antitheses used in a piece of writing or speech to maintain effectiveness.
  • Ensure that the contrasting ideas presented in the antithesis accurately represent the viewpoints being discussed.
  • Avoid creating false dichotomies or straw man arguments by carefully examining the opposing ideas for nuances and common ground.

By adhering to these principles, writers, and speakers can utilize antithesis effectively, adding depth and impact to their arguments without sacrificing credibility.

Pros and Cons of Antithesis

Antithesis, a rhetorical device where opposing ideas are contrasted or balanced within a sentence or a phrase, is often employed to create emphasis and depth in writing. However, it has both advantages and disadvantages that writers should be aware of.

Pros of Antithesis:

  • Emphasis on Key Points: Antithesis highlights the contrast between two opposing ideas or concepts, making it easier for the reader to focus on and understand the critical points.
  • Stylistic Appeal: The use of antithesis adds an elegant and sophisticated touch to the writing, making it more engaging and thought-provoking for the reader.
  • Memorability: By creating a distinct contrast, antithesis helps to make ideas or phrases more memorable, making the overall message of the text more likely to resonate with the audience.

Cons of Antithesis:

  • Risk of Oversimplification: Antithesis can sometimes reduce complex ideas or issues to overly simplistic binaries, which may not fully represent the intricacies and nuances involved.
  • Potential for Confusion: The contrast between opposing ideas may be difficult for some readers to comprehend, leading to potential misunderstandings or confusion.
  • Overuse: Excessive use of antithesis in a piece of writing may make the text feel repetitive and heavy-handed, lessening the overall impact and effectiveness of the rhetorical device.

Writers can harness the strengths of antithesis by using it judiciously and avoiding overuse, ensuring that it adds value and depth to their work without compromising its integrity or clarity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is antithesis effective in persuasion.

Yes, antithesis can be an effective persuasion tool. In political speeches and other forms of rhetoric, the use of antithesis is often employed to highlight the contrasts between opposing viewpoints or ideologies, making the argument or position more compelling.

Can antithesis be used in a simile or metaphor?

Antithesis can be incorporated into similes and metaphors to enhance their impact. While the purpose of a simile or metaphor is to make a comparison, using antithesis can further emphasize the primary differences between the compared elements.

Can antithesis be overused?

As with any literary device, antithesis can lose its effectiveness if overused. Employing antithesis sparingly and strategically ensures that its purpose is clear and that it contributes to the overall impact and meaning of the text.

Antithesis, as a rhetorical device, has been a powerful tool in language and literature. It is characterized by contrasting two opposing ideas or phrases, typically within parallel structures. This technique effectively highlights the differences and creates a balanced yet opposing relationship between ideas, drawing the attention of the reader or audience.

Examples of antithesis can be found in various forms of literature, including speeches, poetry, and prose.

These works serve as testimony to the enduring influence and significance of antithesis in shaping ideas and engaging readers.

Experimenting with antithesis in one’s own writing and communication can lead to a deeper understanding of texts and a more engaging style. By employing opposing ideas and parallel structures, writers and speakers can create memorable expressions, emphasize contrasting concepts, and provoke thought and discussion.

Whether used artfully in literature or strategically in rhetoric, antithesis remains an essential technique to master for effective communication. Embracing its potential can enhance the clarity and impact of ideas, leaving a lasting impression on readers and audiences alike.

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Figures of speech - antithesis, what is antithesis.

Antithesis is a figure of speech which refers to the juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas. It involves the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure.

These are examples of antithesis:

  • "Man proposes, God disposes." - Source unknown.
  • "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." - Goethe .
  • "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong.
  • "To err is human; to forgive divine." - Alexander Pope.
  • "Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice." - William Shakespeare.
  • "Many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14.

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Antithesis: Definition, Features and Examples

Supriya Maity

Antithesis:

Definition:.

Antithesis is a figure of speech in which contrasted words or ideas are placed together in a balanced form for the sake of emphasis.

Things opposite, as already asserted, often make a view attractive. A black person looks bright in a white dress. In composition, too, contrasted words or ideas, when they are placed together, brighten the whole impression. As a matter of fact, words or thoughts are found often set together in contrast for the sake of emphasizing a proposition, fact, or imagery.

Features of Antithesis:

The essential features of an antithesis are thus : i) Two contrasted words or ideas are placed together. (ii) These words or ideas are placed in a balanced form. (iii) The purpose is to emphasize some thought, idea, or concept.

Examples of Antithesis:

Some examples of this figure are given below :

(i) United we stand, divided we fall.-Morris

Here, two contrasted ideas ‘united we stand and divided we fall’ are placed together in a balanced form. The purpose here is to emphasise the strength of unity.

(ii) I saved him, she killed him.

Here, ‘saved’ and ‘killed’ are placed together in balanced forms, and the emphasis is laid on some concept or thought.

(iii) Man is a hater of truth, a lover of fiction.

Here ‘a hater of truth’ and ‘a lover of fiction’ are two contrasting ideas. They are placed together in a balanced form, and the purpose is to emphasise the human nature that has a fondness for fiction and a dislike for facts.

(iv) The old contemplate, the young act. (v) Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice. -Shakespeare

(vi) I love the country, I hate the town.

It is an antithesis, for contrasted ideas, ‘love the country’ and ‘hate the town’, are placed together in a balanced form, and the purpose is to emphasise the author’s love of the country.

(vii) “Man proposes, but God disposes,”- Here two ideas (i) man proposes and (ii) God disposes are placed together. They are contrasted ideas. They are also placed in a balanced form. This antithetical arrangement seems to emphasise the difference between the power of God and that of man.

(viii) Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. -Tennyson Here two contrasted words ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ are placed together in a balanced form, and the purpose is to emphasise the entire proposition that the speaker’s strength of will is not yet gone.

(ix) The day was gone, the night came on. -Barham

(x) Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. -Milton

(xi) The scheme was great, but the execution was poor.

(xii) To do a great right, do a little wrong.

(xiii) Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

(xiv) Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care.

(xv) Art is long, life is short.

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Antithesis Definition & Examples in Speech and Literature

Antithesis does not have to be a difficult thing to understand, despite its complicated name, it is a relatively simple form on English grammar which can be easily explained. We are going to take a look at what antithesis is and how it is to be used. We will look at various examples of antithesis in both written and spoken language to further assist us to understand it.

Table of Contents

Antithesis Definition

Antithesis is, in fact, a word from ancient Greek that directly translates as ‘ opposite .’ When we talk about antithesis in the English language we are referring to a phrase that contains two contrasting ideas. Antithesis is used to express opposing ideas in a more vivid fashion in order that it has more of an impact on the person listening to or reading the language.

Antithesis in Figures of Speech

Antithesis used in figures of speech might sound something like the famous phrase made by Neil Armstrong on his moon landing, he said: “that’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” The small step and giant step are the antitheses because they are the direct opposite of one another and yet contrast in the sentence.

Antithesis in Rhetorical Devices

Antithesis in rhetoric, when two opposite statements are juxtaposed to create a contrasting notion, can be seen in the speech made by Martin Luther King, in the sentence “ I hope that one day my children will be judged not by their skin colour but by their character. ” When used in a rhetorical device , antithesis is designed to paint a picture of the concept.

Antithesis in Figurative Language

Antithesis can be used in figurative language , a good example of this is the phrase “ man proposes, God disposes. ” The two ideas are completely opposite to each other and yet when put in a sentence together create a contrasting idea.

Antithesis in a Literary Device

When used as a literary device , antithesis is designed to be used to sway the opinion of the reader or listener through the statement itself. An example of this comes once again from Martin Luther King when he said: “ we must learn to come together as brethren or perish together as fools. ” In this context, the antithesis is being used to point out the bad thing and highlight the good thing.

Antithesis Examples

Examples of antithesis in speech.

There will be many occasions when you are likely to hear antithesis during everyday conversations. We will now take a look at some examples of sentences in which antithesis is present.

  • Give all men your ear, but few men your voice.
  • Love is an ideal thing but marriage is a real thing.
  • Speech is silver but silence is golden .
  • Patience is bitter but it bears sweet fruit.
  • Money is the root of all evil, poverty is the fruit of all goodness.
  • She is easy on the eyes but hard on the heart.
  • Everybody doesn’t like something but nobody doesn’t like this.
  • Integrity without knowledge is frail and has no use and knowledge without integrity is risky and awful.
  • People who have no vices also have not many virtues.
  • Burning a fire to stay cool.
  • Shutting a door in order to leave.
  • Even though the sun shines, I can feel the rain.
  • It is never too late but it is never too soon.

Examples of Antithesis in Literature

Many authors have used antithesis in their work in order to provide the reader with a thought-provoking, contrasting statement. We are now going to take a look at some examples of times when writers have used antithesis within poetry, fiction and other types of written work.

  • A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens opens with the use of antithesis in the line “ Twas the very best in times, Twas the very worst in times. That was a time of wisdom and yet a time of foolishness. ” In this example, antithesis is used to imply the conflict of the time in which the story was set.
  • “ To err is human, to forgive is divine, ” This is a line from the play Julius Caesar written by William Shakespeare. Here antithesis is used to refer to the fact that God the creator is forgiving yet he created a race of humans who were far from perfect.
  • In the poem ‘community’ written by John Donne, we see the use of antithesis to compare love and hate. “ Good we must love and must hate ill. “
  • Paradise lost written by John Milton features the use of antithesis when it compares the opposing ideas of heaven and hell alongside the opposing ideas of serving and reigning , in the sentence: “ It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. “
  • In the Holy Bible, we see the use of antithesis in the book of Matthew, where we can read the line “ many are called but few are chosen .”
  • “ Give me a bit of sunshine, give me a bit of rain. ” This is an example of antithesis from the song Give me some sunshine by Swanand Kirkire. The notion of wanting sunshine is completely opposite to the idea of wanting rain and yet both are contained within the same sentence.
  • In the song “My girl” by the band The Temptations we see antithesis being used in the line “ When it is cold outside, I have got the month of May .”
  • “ In my beginning is my end .” This is an example of the use of antithesis within the poem Four Quartets which was written by T S Elliot.
  • In the comic book featuring the character Green Lantern, an oath is written and the first line of this oath contains antithesis. “ In the brightest of days and in the blackest of nights .”

As we have seen, antithesis can be used in various ways in order to compare and contrast two opposing ideas. It can be used in a variety of ways depending on how it is being used, whether that be in the rhetorical, as a literary device or in a figure of speech.

Antithesis Infographic

Antithesis

Last Updated on May 9, 2020

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An Introduction to Antimetabole

Antithesis (derives from Greek anti “against” and thesis “a setting, position” literary means “setting opposite”), is a kind of parallelism Opens in new window or a parallel structure where two contrasting ideas are presented in opposition to one another, in words, sentences, or parts of a sentence, which makes the principal idea more striking.

  • Thus in words: “He is gone from painful labour to quiet rest; from sorrow to joy; from transitory time to immortality .”
  • In sentences:“Art thou rich? rob not the poor . Art thou wise? Beguile not the weak under thy feet.”
  • And in parts of a sentence: “the wise shall inherit glory; but shame shall be the portion of fools.”

Antithesis possess all the attributes of climax Opens in new window or amplification Opens in new window , with which different things of the same kind impress the mind when placed in juxtaposition; and it adds to these the pleasures derivable from unexpected difference and surprise.

By using a parallel structure for presenting a contrast, antithesis produces vibrancy, clarity, balance, and emphasis, all of which contribute to memorability. In fact, speaking of emphasis, Antithesis is a concrete form of Emphasis Opens in new window , and sometimes the theme, or principal idea, remains implicit. Example: “ Soap cannot tolerate dirt ” — (H. Michaux, Face aux verrous )

Antithesis can convey a sense of complexity by presenting opposite or nearly opposite truths. By placing the contrasting ideas in the same grammatical position in the sentences using parallelism, the contrast is more emphatically pointed out to the reader. Observe this attribute in the examples below:

Examples of Antithesis

— Goldsmith.

— Williams Shakespeare, Hamlet

— John F. Kennedy

— Abraham Lincoln

Similar Literatures: Figures of Parallelism

  •  Antitheton Opens in new window
  •  Enantiosis Opens in new window
  •  Paradox Opens in new window
  •  Parisosis Opens in new window
  •  Oxymoron Opens in new window
  • Silva Rhetoricae, Antithesis Opens in new window
  • Robert A Harris: Writing with Clarity and Style: A Guide to Rhetorical Devices for Contemporary Writing Opens in new window

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Peroration (Lat. Peratio) is the epilogue or concluding part of an oration whereby what the orator had insisted on through his whole oration is urged afresh with greater vehemence.

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Style is the peculiar manner in which a writer expresses his thoughts by words. In writing, the canon of style is first encountered in the drafting stage and continues in the rewriting stage.

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Common–place is language amplifying something that is acknowledged to be either a fault or a brave deed. It is of two kinds: one made of attack against evil and . . .

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Progymnasmata is a set of preparatory exercises set up to train students of rhetoric for the composition of prose and performance of practical orations.

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Rhetoric is the craft of speaking in ways intended to persuade the hearer; it consists of the arrangement of figures of speech to create a pleasing impression on listeners.

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Discourse is a coherently-arranged, serious and systematic treatment of a topic in spoken or written language. Discourse may be classified into descriptive, narrative, expository, and argumentative.

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Internal Rhyme is a kind of rhyme that occurs within a single line of verse in which middle words rhymes with the words at the end of the same line.

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The easiest way to tell if a line is end-stopped is to look for punctuation at the end. That might include a comma, colon, semi-colon, dash, period, etc.

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Enjambment is a poetic device for the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line of poetry to the next. This allows ideas to continue beyond the limitations of a single line.

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Cacophony involves the use of words or phrases characterized with disagreeable and unmelodious sounds, sounds that are hostile and disturbing.

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Climax is a figure of speech by which objects, ideas or episodes of events are gradated by a series of circumstances, ascending one above another in respect of importance.

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Diacope is the figure of repetition by which a word or phrase is repeated after a brief interruption by an intervening word or phrase.

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Enallage is a figure of speech which prevails in the form of a word play; as when a part of speech or a particular modification is exchanged for another.

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Enantiosis is a figure which consists when contrasting ideas or things very different are by comparison placed together, in which they mutually set off and enhance one another.

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Epimone is a form of speech which consists when we dwell upon a focal point or argument, in which what was earlier stated is emphasized to deepen the impression.

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Hypallage is a figure n which an exchange of words change the “true construction and application” of a statement so that “the sense is quite perverted and made very absurd.

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Isocolon is a literary device and a kind of parallelism by which successive sentences, clauses, or phrases are structured similarly in length, rhythm and are grammatically parallel.

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Oxymoron is a collocation of two or more logically contradictory terms in a sentence, that literally correspond with one another, as in “healthful diseases”, “profitable losses”, etc.

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Parallelism is a literary device which consists in the presentation of several ideas of equal importance by putting each of them into the same kind of grammatical structure.

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Parrhesia is a figure of speech which describes frankness and boldness in speaking truth; by which the speaker chooses to tell truth at his/her own free will and not by force.

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Polysyndeton is a rhetorical term for the repeated use of conjunctions than necessary between all elements enumerated in a series. It tends to separate the elements, to make each one singly and important.

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Allegory is a fictitious narrative constructed in a figurative mode of representation, suggesting thoughts and facts completely different from those which it appears to convey.

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As a story of some sort, anecdotes belongs to the genre of oral folklore, a traditional narrative, which studies the oral, customary, and material traditions of a people.

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Anthropomorphism is the tendency to project human qualities into non-human beings, objects, or supernatural phenomena. It is frequently used as a literary device in art, literature, and film.

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Aphorisms are naturally persuasive because they are short and succinct, easily remembered, and almost always contain truisms; and because they are short, they require far less explanation.

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Apologue is a moral fable or allegorical story with relation of fictitious events, intended to serve as a vehicle to induce moral behavior and convey vital truths and lessons.

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Aporia as a rhetorical device also involves the expression of incompetence, (often feigned and sometimes genuine), lack of expertise to expertize on the matter at hand. It belongs in the irony family.

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Comparison is the likening of one object to another, from which it also differs in so many other qualities to which the attention is not directed, that it can not properly be said to belong to the same class.

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Double Negative is the collective use of two or more negative words in the same sentence. Most double negative found in Standard English are inappropriate, except in informal contexts.

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Ekphrasis (Ecphrasis) broadly refers to a technique of verbal representation of visual art or the poetic description of pictorial or sculptural work of art. It was an accepted rhetorical strategy in the fifth-century B.C.E.

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Elision is the deliberate omission of one or more sounds in words mainly for the purpose of enhancing easier and fluent pronunciations.

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Fable is a fictitious story, in itself improbable, generally impossible, in which irrational animals or objects are introduced as speaking, but nevertheless conveying some moral instruction, or lesson.

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Irony can be defined as a form of speech in which what the speaker utters is the direct contrary of what he intends shall be understood.

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Malapropism is a figure which consists when a speaker mistakenly says one word, that is inappropriate for the context, because the word actually sounds quite like the appropriate word.

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Metaphor is a figure of speech which by its expression exclusively consists in the resemblance of two objects by applying either the name, or some attribute of the one, directly to the other.

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Metonymy is a change of names between things closely related or a reference to a thing or person by naming one of its attributes.

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Neologism in its literal sense, means “new utterance”; it refers to the creation of new words; any word which may be in the formation process or in its initial state of use.

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Parable can be generally defined as “a more or less developed comparison in which two things or processes from different fields are set side by side so that . . .

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Paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement, but nevertheless appears to be true. A paradox usually has two parallel elements that appear to be logically inconsistent and yet contain a truth.

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Paronomasia is a poetic device that expresses similarity of sound of various words. It is a deliberate choice of two (or more) words which resemble one another in their roots . . .

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Personification is a figure of speech by which, in imagination, we attribute human characteristics or personality to inanimate objects, abstract concepts, or unintelligent beings.

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A proverb is a brief saying in popular use, remarkable for some shrewd and novel turn. A typical proverb must be concise, well known and current.

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Satire is broadly defined as a literary genre that uses ridicule, irony, wit, sarcasm, etc. to expose folly or vice or to lampoon an individual or group of individuals.

ESL Grammar

Antithesis: Definition, Grammartical Structure and Examples

Antithesis is a rhetorical device that involves contrasting two opposing ideas in a sentence or a paragraph. It is a powerful tool used in literature, speeches, and debates to emphasize the difference between two ideas. The word antithesis is derived from the Greek word “antitithenai,” which means “to oppose” or “to set against.”

Antithesis can be used to create a memorable impact on the audience. It draws attention to the stark contrast between two opposing ideas, making it easier for the audience to understand the message being conveyed. Antithesis can be used in various forms, such as contrasting words, phrases, or entire sentences. It is often used in famous speeches, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where he used antithesis to emphasize the difference between segregation and equality.

Antithesis The Art of Contrasting Ideas

Antithesis Definitions

Greek Origins

The word “antithesis” has its roots in the Greek word “antithenai,” which means “to oppose.” The Greek word “tithenai” also contributed to the development of “antithesis,” as it means “to put, set, or place.” These Greek words were used to describe the concept of setting something in opposition to another thing, or placing two contrasting ideas side by side for comparison.

Modern Definitions

According to Merriam-Webster, “antithesis” has two primary definitions. The first definition is “the direct opposite,” while the second definition is “the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences.” This second definition refers to the use of antithesis as a literary device, where contrasting ideas are presented in a parallel structure for emphasis or effect.

Other definitions of “antithesis” include “opposition” and “contrast.” Synonyms for “antithesis” include “contradiction,” “counterpart,” and “inverse.”

Overall, the concept of antithesis has evolved from its Greek origins to become a widely recognized literary device used in various forms of writing and speech. By presenting contrasting ideas in a parallel structure, writers and speakers can create a powerful sense of contrast and emphasis that can capture the attention of their audience.

Understanding Antithesis

In Rhetoric

Antithesis is a rhetorical device that involves the use of contrasting concepts, words, or sentences within parallel grammatical structures to create a balanced and contrasting effect. This literary device is often used to emphasize the differences between two ideas or concepts, thereby creating a more powerful and memorable message.

Antithesis is commonly used in persuasive writing and speeches, as it allows the speaker or writer to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of opposing viewpoints. By presenting two contrasting ideas side by side, the audience is able to see the differences more clearly and make a more informed decision.

In Literature

In literature, antithesis is used to create a sense of tension and drama by contrasting two opposing ideas or concepts. This technique is often used in poetry, where contrasting concepts are used to create a more powerful and memorable image or message.

In literature, antithesis is often used to create a sense of irony or contradiction, as the author juxtaposes two opposing ideas to create a more complex and nuanced message. For example, in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the opening lines “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” use antithesis to highlight the stark contrasts between the two cities.

In Speeches

Antithesis is a common rhetorical device used in speeches to create a more powerful and memorable message. By presenting two contrasting ideas side by side, the speaker is able to emphasize the differences between them and create a more persuasive argument.

Antithesis is often used in political speeches, where the speaker may use contrasting concepts to highlight the differences between their own policies and those of their opponents. For example, in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he used antithesis when he said “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Overall, antithesis is a powerful literary and rhetorical device that can be used in a variety of contexts to create a more memorable and persuasive message. By presenting two contrasting ideas side by side, the speaker or writer is able to highlight the differences between them and create a more nuanced and complex message that is more likely to be remembered by the audience.

Grammatical Structure

Antithesis is a rhetorical device that uses contrasting ideas in parallel grammatical structures to create emphasis and highlight the differences between them. The grammatical structure of antithesis is essential to its effectiveness, as it creates a balance between the opposing ideas and makes them more memorable to the reader or listener.

Parallelism

Parallelism is a crucial aspect of antithesis. It involves using the same grammatical structure for both contrasting ideas, such as using the same sentence structure for two opposing phrases. This technique creates a rhythmic effect that draws the reader’s attention to the contrasting ideas and emphasizes the differences between them.

For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. used parallelism in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech when he said, “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

Contrasting Ideas

Antithesis relies on contrasting ideas to create a powerful effect. These ideas can be expressed through sentences, clauses, phrases, or words. The contrasting ideas must be balanced to create a harmonious effect, which is achieved through the use of parallelism.

For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar,” Mark Antony uses antithesis to compare the honorable Brutus to the treacherous Cassius. He says, “Brutus is an honorable man; so are they all, all honorable men,” emphasizing the contrast between Brutus’s character and his actions.

In conclusion, the grammatical structure of antithesis is crucial to its effectiveness. The use of parallelism and contrasting ideas creates a rhythmic effect that draws the reader’s attention and emphasizes the differences between the opposing ideas. By using a balanced grammatical structure, antithesis creates a memorable effect that enhances the impact of the message being conveyed.

Antithesis Examples

Antithesis is a literary device that positions opposite ideas parallel to each other. This section will explore some examples of antithesis in literature, speeches, and everyday life.

Antithesis is widely used in literature to create a contrast between two different ideas. One of the most famous examples of antithesis is found in Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

William Shakespeare also used antithesis in his writing. In “Romeo and Juliet,” he writes, “My only love sprung from my only hate! / Too early seen unknown, and known too late!” This example shows how antithesis can create a powerful contrast between love and hate.

Antithesis is also commonly used in speeches to emphasize opposing ideas. Martin Luther King Jr. used antithesis in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” This example highlights the contrast between living together peacefully and the consequences of not doing so.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is another famous example of antithesis in speeches. He said, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.” This example contrasts the work of those who fought with the work that still needs to be done.

In Everyday Life

Antithesis is also commonly used in everyday life, often without people realizing it. For example, the famous quote by Neil Armstrong , “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” is an example of antithesis. The contrast between the small step and the giant leap creates a powerful image of the significance of the event.

Another example of antithesis in everyday life is the phrase “no pain, no gain.” This phrase emphasizes the contrast between the discomfort of hard work and the benefits that come from it.

In conclusion, antithesis is a powerful literary device that can be used to emphasize contrasting ideas. It is commonly used in literature, speeches, and everyday life to create a memorable and impactful message.

The Impact of Antithesis

On audience.

Antithesis can have a profound impact on an audience. By presenting contrasting ideas in a balanced grammatical structure, it captures the attention of the audience and creates a sense of tension that keeps them engaged. The use of antithesis can also make content more memorable and effective, as it creates a sense of rhythm and imagery that sticks with the audience long after they have finished reading or listening.

Antithesis can be a powerful tool for writers and speakers looking to convey complex ideas in a clear and concise manner. By juxtaposing opposing ideas, it allows them to highlight the differences between them and make their point more effectively. Antithesis can also be used to create a sense of tension and drama in a piece of content, which can help to keep the audience engaged and interested.

When used effectively, antithesis can be a powerful tool for writers and speakers looking to create memorable and effective content. By capturing the attention of the audience and creating a sense of tension and drama, it can help to convey complex ideas in a clear and concise manner. Whether used for rhetorical effect or simply to create a sense of rhythm and imagery, antithesis is a powerful tool that should not be overlooked.

Antithesis and Other Literary Devices

Antithesis is often used in conjunction with other literary devices to create a more impactful effect. One such device is the oxymoron, which is a figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms. An oxymoron can be used to create a sense of irony or to highlight a paradox. For example, the phrase “bittersweet” is an oxymoron because it combines two opposite terms.

Another literary device that can be used in conjunction with antithesis is the foil. A foil is a character who is used to contrast with another character in order to highlight their differences. This can be used to create a sense of conflict or to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a particular character. For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” the character of Hamlet is contrasted with the character of Laertes in order to highlight their different approaches to revenge.

While antithesis is often used to highlight contrasts and opposing ideas, it can also be used to create a sense of synthesis. Synthesis is the process of combining two or more ideas in order to create a new and more complex idea. For example, the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” combines the idea of writing (which is often associated with intellect) with the idea of physical force (which is often associated with strength) in order to create a new and more complex idea.

Antithesis, oxymorons, foils, and synthesis are all powerful literary devices that can be used to create a sense of comparison and contrast. By using these devices, writers can create more impactful and memorable works that speak to the complexities of mankind.

Common Misconceptions and Overuse

Antithesis is a powerful literary device that can add depth and complexity to writing. However, it is often misunderstood and overused, leading to annoying and cliché writing. In this section, we will address some common misconceptions and overuse of antithesis.

One common misconception is that antithesis must always involve a direct opposition between two ideas or words. While this is often the case, antithesis can also involve a contrast between two related ideas or words. For example, “love and hate” are direct opposites, while “love and indifference” are related but contrasting ideas.

Another misconception is that antithesis should be used in every sentence or paragraph. Overuse of antithesis can lead to annoying and cliché writing. It is important to use antithesis sparingly and only when it adds value to the writing.

Additionally, some writers may try to force antithesis into their writing, resulting in awkward and unnatural phrasing. It is important to use antithesis in a way that flows naturally and enhances the meaning of the writing.

Overall, antithesis is a powerful tool that can add depth and complexity to writing. However, it should be used sparingly and only when it adds value to the writing. Avoid overuse and forcing antithesis into writing, as this can lead to annoying and cliché writing.

In conclusion, antithesis is a rhetorical device that involves the use of contrasting or opposite ideas in a balanced grammatical structure. It is commonly used in literature, speeches, and other forms of communication to create emphasis, contrast, and impact.

Antithesis is often used in conjunction with the thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic, a process of logical argumentation that involves presenting a thesis, then presenting its opposite (antithesis), and finally synthesizing the two opposing viewpoints to arrive at a new conclusion.

Through the use of antithesis, writers and speakers can create a sense of tension and drama, as well as emphasize the differences between two opposing ideas. It can also be used to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different arguments and perspectives, and to help readers or listeners come to their own conclusions about a particular topic.

Overall, antithesis is a powerful tool for writers and speakers who wish to make a strong impression on their audience. By using contrasting or opposite ideas in a balanced structure, they can create a sense of tension and drama, emphasize key points, and help their audience come to their own conclusions about a particular topic.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of antithesis?

Antithesis is a figure of speech that contrasts two opposing ideas in a sentence or a phrase. It is often used to create a dramatic effect or to emphasize a point. The term comes from the Greek word “antithesis,” which means “opposition.”

Can you give an example of antithesis in literature?

One famous example of antithesis in literature is the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” This sentence contrasts the two opposing ideas of good and bad, wisdom and foolishness, to emphasize the stark differences between the two cities.

How is antithesis different from juxtaposition?

Antithesis and juxtaposition are both figures of speech that involve contrasting two ideas. However, antithesis specifically involves contrasting two opposing ideas, while juxtaposition can contrast any two ideas, regardless of whether they are opposing or not.

What are some common uses of antithesis?

Antithesis is commonly used in literature, speeches, and advertising to create a memorable impact on the audience. It can be used to emphasize a point, create a dramatic effect, or to convey a deeper meaning.

What is the purpose of using antithesis in writing?

The purpose of using antithesis is to create a contrast between two opposing ideas, which can help to emphasize a point or to create a memorable impact on the audience. It can also be used to convey a deeper meaning or to create a dramatic effect.

Can you provide an example of antithesis in a school setting?

An example of antithesis in a school setting could be the phrase “knowledge is power, ignorance is weakness.” This phrase contrasts the two opposing ideas of knowledge and ignorance to emphasize the importance of education.

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Ironic Irony Understanding the Art of Contradiction

Antithesis Definition 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.

  • Alliteration
  • Anachronism
  • Antimetabole
  • Aposiopesis
  • Characterization
  • Colloquialism
  • Connotation
  • Deus Ex Machina
  • Didacticism
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Flash Forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Internal Rhyme
  • Juxtaposition
  • Non Sequitur
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Poetic Justice
  • Point of View
  • Portmanteau
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Superlative
  • Synesthesia
  • Tragicomedy
  • Tragic Flaw
  • Verisimilitude

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A powerful tool to govern even the King

Antithesis Figure of Speech

Figures of speech are literary devices which are used to convey ideas that go beyond their literal meaning. In English, there are more than 200 different  types of figures of speech . 

‘ Antithesis figure of speech ‘ is one of them.

Antithesis

Antithesis Figure of Speech Meaning

Antithesis is a figure of speech where opposite ideas are brought together in a sentence for poetic effect.

Daily Grammar Test - Attempt Now

  • He toiled all  day  and he slept all  night . (Contrasting words ‘day‘ and ‘night‘ are brought together.)
  • Madhu is  disciplined  in her professional life but  disorganised  in her personal life. (Contrasting words ‘disciplined‘ and ‘disorganised‘ are brought together.)

Antithesis Figure of Speech Examples

Following are some famous examples of Antithesis

“ Love  is an  ideal  thing;  marriage  is a  real  thing.” — Goethe

“That’s  one small step  for man,  one giant leap  for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong

“We must learn to  live  together as brothers or  perish  together as fools.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Give every man thy  ear , but few thy  voice .” —Shakespeare, Hamlet

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Antithesis Figure of Speech

Antithesis Figure of Speech: Check Out the Meaning and Examples of Antithesis!

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It is a must for you to learn all the figures of speech used in the language if you are an aspirant of English learning. This article is all about the antithesis figure of speech. You will get the antithesis meaning and examples while scrolling the article ahead. Many people focus on the language, vocabulary, and grammar while learning the skills of English but don’t emphasize the figures of speech.

Well, these aspects in the language help you to be magnificent while speaking to professionals. If you want to understand modern English and dream to speak it before others, this is the right opportunity for you. Try to understand everything with the help of the examples given below.

So, let’s initiate the knowledge about the antithesis figure of speech.

Also Read: How to Remember Vocabulary Words? 9 Best Ways to Memorize English Words Fast

Antithesis Meaning

The perfect meaning of this figure of speech says that it is a figure of speech that refers to the juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas. Many instances are given below to let you understand. It refers to bringing out a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences. It works within a parallel grammatical structure.

So, you can easily use it when you know its functions and correct time of usage. Everyone wants to be great and influential before others but they hardly realize that there is a simple process of marking their personality which is communication.

Good communication does everything for you from putting out your perceptions to making your worth. Therefore, learn the effective way to represent your thoughts.

Antithesis Figure of Speech Examples

The antithesis examples are essential for you to read and understand. This will enable you to use it in your further communication. Once you acknowledge it well, you will become a pro at it. You will find it easy to understand when someone else uses it before you.

So, let’s grab the most important information through the examples given below. These are examples of antithesis figures of speech:

#. “Man proposes, God disposes.” – Source unknown. #. “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” – Goethe. #. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong. #. “To err is human; to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope. #. “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare. #. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.

Also Read: Types of Figure of Speech in English: Examples of Figurative Language to Ace English

Antithesis Examples

Some more unique examples where antithesis is used are given here. Talking about Grammar, these opposing clauses, phrases, or sentences are roughly equal in length and balanced in contiguous grammatical structures. The speech is used efficiently.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. (Abraham Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address”)

One more effective example from the stanza of the poem is written here. The effect of antithesis is often one of tragic irony or reversal in the poetries.

Saddled and bridled And booted rade he; A plume in his helmet, A sword at his knee; But toom [empty] cam’ his saddle A’ bloody to see, O hame cam’ his gude horse But never came’ he!

Also Read: How to Practice English Speaking? Online Exercises to Improve Your English Skills

Significance of the Figure of Speech

The figure of speech is used to upgrade the style of speaking. People use it in different ways to be unique and awesome. It improves the beauty of writing or speaking. Moreover, it is used to make the sentence deeper and leaves the reader or listener with a sense of wonder .

The biggest credibility is that it brings life to the words used by the speaker or writer. When somebody speaks in a fluent way using any figure of speech, the listener gets an impact on the person.

Furthermore, the figure of speech not only shows the speaker or writer’s intent but also his/ her purpose of using such language. So, if you want to be different and proficient, learn the ways to use it.

Also Read: 5 Tricks to Convey Your Message Smartly

We believe that this article has enlightened your mind for English speaking skills. You must have learned the ways to be effective by using this figure of speech in communication through the explanation and examples.

If you want to grab more, you can visit the Fluent life website. The articles are written with authentic facts and information to let you grow your potential and talent. The professionals also guide you to be the best by several efficient techniques.

Moreover, the Fluent life app is specially designed and customized for users. The learning is given according to the grabbing potential and interest of the person. Also, many videos are available to make you aware of different aspects of the language along with the games to test your capabilities. You should reach out to the most quintessential place to enlarge your horizon and develop your abilities. We wish you good luck in the future!

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COMMENTS

  1. Antithesis

    Antithesis is a figure of speech that juxtaposes two contrasting or opposing ideas, usually within parallel grammatical structures. For instance, Neil Armstrong used antithesis when he stepped onto the surface of the moon in 1969 and said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

  2. Antithesis

    Here are some examples of antithesis used in everyday speech: Go big or go home. Spicy food is heaven on the tongue but hell in the tummy. Those who can, do; those who can't do, teach. Get busy living or get busy dying. Speech is silver but silence is gold. No pain, no gain. It's not a show, friends; it's show business. No guts, no glory.

  3. Antithesis: Meaning, Definition and Examples

    English Grammar Figures Of Speech Antithesis Antithesis: Meaning, Definition and Examples Figures of speech, otherwise known as rhetorical devices, are used in the English language to beautify and make your language look and sound a lot more effective rather than a literal presentation of information.

  4. Antithesis

    antithesis, (from Greek antitheton, "opposition"), a figure of speech in which irreconcilable opposites or strongly contrasting ideas are placed in sharp juxtaposition and sustained tension, as in the saying "Art is long, and Time is fleeting."

  5. Antithesis as a Figure of Speech: Meaning, Usage & Examples

    Antithesis as a Figure of Speech: Meaning, Usage & Examples By: Marcel Iseli Last updated: September 18, 2022 Sharing is caring! shares Poetry is one of the most sublime art forms imaginable. It combines the written word with music and has a unique ability to capture our imagination like no other medium.

  6. Antithesis

    Antithesis can be defined as "a figure of speech involving a seeming contradiction of ideas, words, clauses, or sentences within a balanced grammatical structure. Parallelism of expression serves to emphasize opposition of ideas". [3] An antithesis must always contain two ideas within one statement.

  7. What Is Antithesis, and How Do You Use It in Writing?

    Antithesis (pronounced an-TITH-uh-sis) deals in opposites. The Merriam-Webster definition of antithesis is "the direct opposite," and in Greek the meaning is "setting opposite.". As a tool for writing, antithesis creates a juxtaposition of qualities using a parallel grammatical structure. In other words, it's setting opposites next to ...

  8. Definition and Examples of Antithesis in Rhetoric

    Antithesis is a rhetorical term for the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases or clauses. Plural: antitheses. Adjective: antithetical . In grammatical terms, antithetical statements are parallel structures .

  9. Figure of Speech

    Definition Examples Function Resources Figure of Speech Definition What is a figure of speech? Here's a quick and simple definition: A figure of speech is a literary device in which language is used in an unusual—or "figured"—way in order to produce a stylistic effect.

  10. Antithesis Examples and Definition

    For example, the following famous Muhammad Ali quote is an example of antithesis: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.". This is an antithesis example because there is the contrast between the animals and their actions (the peaceful floating butterfly versus the aggressive stinging bee) combined with the parallel grammatical structure ...

  11. Antithesis: Meaning, Examples & Use, Figures of Speech

    English Literature Literary Devices Antithesis Antithesis When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon he said, 'that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' - this is a famous example of antithesis. Antithesis is a literary device used to show the difference or contrast between two objects.

  12. 20 Types of Figures of Speech, With Definitions and Examples

    Antithesis is a literary technique that places opposite things or ideas next to one another in order to draw out their contrast. Example: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ." —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 3 Apostrophe

  13. What Is an Antithesis? Definition & 15+ Examples

    Antithesis is a figure of speech that uses parallelism to present opposing ideas. In essence, it is the juxtaposition of contrasting concepts, usually in balanced or parallel phrases, to create a heightened effect in a sentence or expression. This rhetorical device can emphasize the differences between two opposing ideas, allowing the writer or ...

  14. Figures of speech

    Antithesis is a figure of speech which refers to the juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas. It involves the bringing out of a contrast in the ideas by an obvious contrast in the words, clauses, or sentences, within a parallel grammatical structure. Examples: These are examples of antithesis: "Man proposes, God disposes." - Source unknown.

  15. Antithesis: Definition, Features and Examples

    Definition: Antithesis is a figure of speech in which contrasted words or ideas are placed together in a balanced form for the sake of emphasis. Things opposite, as already asserted, often make a view attractive. A black person looks bright in a white dress. In composition, too, contrasted words or ideas, when they are placed together, brighten ...

  16. Antithesis Definition & Examples in Speech and Literature

    4.6k Antithesis does not have to be a difficult thing to understand, despite its complicated name, it is a relatively simple form on English grammar which can be easily explained. We are going to take a look at what antithesis is and how it is to be used.

  17. Antithesis: Definition and Examples of Antithesis

    Antithesis. Antithesis (derives from Greek anti "against" and thesis "a setting, position" literary means "setting opposite"), is a kind of parallelism Opens in new window or a parallel structure where two contrasting ideas are presented in opposition to one another, in words, sentences, or parts of a sentence, which makes the principal idea more striking.

  18. Antithesis: Definition, Grammartical Structure and Examples

    Antithesis is a rhetorical device that involves contrasting two opposing ideas in a sentence or a paragraph. It is a powerful tool used in literature, speeches, and debates to emphasize the difference between two ideas. The word antithesis is derived from the Greek word "antitithenai," which means "to oppose" or "to set against.".

  19. Antithesis

    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.

  20. Antithesis

    Definition of Antithesis. Antithesis is used in everyday speech, novels, poems, short stories, plays, and more. The rhetorical device can be used in very different ways in order to achieve varied outcomes. Parallelism is an important part of antithesis. The structure of the words around the contrasting ideas is usually identical, at least in ...

  21. An A-Z of Figures of Speech

    Antithesis comes from the Latin and Greek anti- meaning against and -tithenai meaning to set. So antithesis means setting opposite, or contrast. As a figure of speech it's used when two opposites are introduced in the same sentence, for contrasting effect. For example: "Many are called but few are chosen"

  22. Antithesis Figure of Speech

    Antithesis Figure of Speech Examples Following are some famous examples of Antithesis " Love is an ideal thing; marriage is a real thing." — Goethe "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." — Neil Armstrong "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." — Martin Luther King, Jr.

  23. Antithesis Figure of Speech: Check Out the Meaning and Examples of

    These are examples of antithesis figures of speech: #. "Man proposes, God disposes." - Source unknown. #. "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." - Goethe. #. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong.