Antithesis: examples and definition of antithesis as a literary device (2023)

Definition of Antithesis

The antithesis is a literary device that refers to theSide to sideformed by two opposite elements through a parallel grammatical structure. The word antithesis, which means absolute opposite, derives from the Greek for "contextopposite”, indicating when something or someone is in direct contactContrastor the other face of another thing or person.

The antithesis is a literary form andrhetorical device, since it combines exactly opposite or contrasting ideas using the parallel grammatical structure. This helps readers andpublicMembers define concepts by contrast and develop an understanding of something by defining the opposite. Furthermore, by usingparallelismthe antithesis creates a repetitive structure that allows for rhythmic writing and lyrical speech.

For example, Alexander Pope says inAsInvestigationin criticism, “to err is human; forgive divinely.” Pope's use of the antithesis reflects the implications of thisPhrasein writing, as it produces a clear, memorable, and lyrical effect on the reader. Furthermore, Pope contrasts human failure with divine forgiveness, allowing readers to understand that it is natural for humans to make mistakes, and therefore worthy of others absolving them when they do.

Examples of antithesis in everyday language

Antithesis is often used in everyday speech to convey opposing thoughts in a succinct and expressive way. Since the antithesis is intended as a figure of speech, such statements are not to be taken literally. Here are some examples of antitheses used in everyday speech:

  • Go big or go home.
  • Spicy food is heaven for the tongue, but hell for the stomach.
  • who can, does; who does not know, teaches.
  • Busy living or busy dying.
  • Language is silver, howeverbe quietit's gold
  • Without pain there is no gain.
  • It's not a show, folks; It's show business.
  • Nothing ventured nothing gained.
  • A moment on your lips; on your hips for life.
  • If you don't plan, you plan to fail.

Common Examples of Antitheses from Famous Speech

The antithesis can be a powerful rhetorical device to call attention to drastic differences between opposing ideas and concepts. By emphasizing the contrast side by side with exactly the same structure asspokesmanis capable of impacting audiences in a memorable and meaningful way. Here are some examples of common antitheses.famousAmount:

  • "Havea dreamthat one day my four little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their substanceCharacter." (Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a dream")
  • “The world will pay little attention to it for a long time.rememberwhat we say here, but I can never forget what they did here." (Abraham Lincoln "The Gettysburg Address")
  • "'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never happened and say why not.'" (Edward Kennedy quotes Robert F. Kennedy duringpraise)
  • "We are witnessing today not a party victory, but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing both an end and a beginning, signifying renewal and change" (John F. Kennedy "President's Inaugural Address")
  • “You see, for any champion to be successful, they have to have a team, an amazing and special team; People he can count on, rely on, and rely on through everything: the ups and downs, the wins and losses, the wins and failures, and even the joys and sorrows that happen on and off the field. (Michael Chang)InductionNet in the Tennis Hall of Fame")

Examples of sayings with antithesis

sayingsare simple and often traditional sayings that express a view of perceived truths, based oncommon senseor experience. These sayings are usually intended to be metaphorical and are therefore based on them.fadsas antithesis.sayingsthat use antithetical parallelism represent an antithesis to unite opposing ideas in a specific contrast. Therefore, the antithesis is a powerful literary device in proverbs, allowing the reader to consider one idea and then the opposite. It also creates lyrical and easy to remember sayings.

(Video) Antithesis | Definition & Examples of Antithesis | Antithesis in Literature

Here are some examples of proverbs with antitheses:

  • Cleanliness is close to divinity.
  • Beggars can not be choosers.
  • Easy Come Easy Go.
  • waiting the best; prepare for the worst.
  • Keep your friends close; Keep your enemies close.
  • Like father Like Son.
  • Where there is smoke there is fire.
  • An ounce of protection is worth a pound of healing.
  • Be slow to choose, but slower to change.
  • Give them an inch and they will go a mile.
  • If you can't beat them, join them.
  • Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open.
  • One man's trash is another man's treasure.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Where there is a will, there is a way.

Use opposites in writing.

As a literary device, antithesis allows authors to add contrast to their writing. This is effective for comparing two opposing ideas, e.g. B. the conflicting emotions of a character or the contrasting elements of a setting. In literature, the antithesis does not require a pairing of exact opposites, but different and different concepts. Also, the antithesis creates a lyrical quality to the writing.parallel structure, orhythmof phrases and words should be as similar as possible. Like most literary and rhetorical devices, overuse of the antithesis will confuse or bore the reader and make the writing seem forced.

antithesis and parallelism

Both terms have a fundamental difference. An antithesis involves two conflicting ideas, and parallelism does not necessarily involve opposing ideas or people. You can have more than two ideas or people. As the name suggests, parallelism is a condition in which an antithesis is an opposition. For example, the man who proposes God's decrees has two contradictory ideas. But there is also a parallelPhrase. Furthermore, the parallelism occurs mainly in the structure and less in the ideas. Even similar ideas can appear in parallel, while an antithesis just has different ideas.

antithesis and juxtaposition

In terms of juxtaposition, it means putting two different ideas together. They don't have to be opposites. In the case of the antithesis they must oppose each other, as in the case of the man who proposes, God decrees. These two ideas are not only different, they are also opposite. In juxtaposition, the poet connects only two ideas and they are not opposed.

Use of antithesis in sentences.

  1. Once he dies, he becomes undead.
  2. Most people don't understand the value of money when the poor put money in front of them.
  3. Some people make money while others waste it.
  4. Although they jumped forward, they fell back just in time.
  5. The public advances when there is prosperity and regresses when there is adversity.

Examples of antithesis in the literature.

Antithesis is a powerful literary device and idiom in which an author deliberately juxtaposes two opposing ideas or entities. The antithesis is usually achieved through a parallel structure in which opposing concepts or elements are paired in adjacent positions.phrases,clauses, or phrases. This draws the reader's attention to the meaning or importance of the contrasting agents, thus adding a memorable and meaningful quality to the literary work.

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

(Video) Antithesis: Explanation, Effects, Example | AP Lang Rhetorical Strategies

Example 1:Dorf(William Shakespeare)

Give everyone your ear, but few yoursVoice;

Accept every man's rebuke, but keep your judgment.

In Shakespeare's well-known playgame, uses the antithesis as a literary device for Polonius to give fatherly advice to his son before Laertes leaves for France. In this sense, Polonius combines opposing ideas like listening and speaking in a parallel framework. This adds a lyrical element to the text and, with the meaning of each line, has a memorable and foreboding impact on the characters and audience.

Despite Polonius' attempt to instill in his son reasoning, measured reaction, and sage advice through antithesis, Laertes is so obsessed with avenging his father's death that his actions are impulsive and reckless. His son ignores Polonius's contrasting words, resulting in the deaths of several characters, includingDorfand Laertes himself.

Example 2:Lost paradise(Juan Milton)

here at least
We'll be free; the Almighty did not build
Here for your envy, it will not take us from here:
Here we can rule safely, and by my choice
However, it is worth reigning in Hell:
It is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.

that's MiltonEpic Poem, explores the fall of Satan, as well as the temptation and subsequent fall. This passage is spoken by Satan after being sentenced to hell by God for trying to seize power.mayoand authority in heaven. Satan does not regret his actions and wants to convince hisFanthat hell is preferable to heaven.

(Video) Antithesis in Literature | Antithesis Figure of Speech | Antithesis Examples

Satan uses the antithesis in the last line of this passage to encourage his rebellious followers to understand that in hell they are free and responsible for their own destiny. In this sense, Milton not only contrasts the ideas of hell and heaven, but also of royalty and servitude as applied concepts.The Angel, or The combination of these opposites with this literary device has two effects for the reader. first satanclaimforeshadows her ability to use her words describing independence to seduce Eve, resulting in her and Adam being thrown out of herthe gardenof Eden. Second, this antithesis invites the reader to consider Satan's thought process and experience in order to gain a deeper understanding of his motives in the poem.

Example 3:Fire and ice(Roberto Frost)

Some say the world will end in flames
Some say on ice.
So I tried to wish
I support those who prefer fire.
But if I had to die twice
I think I know enough about hate.
Tell that to ice destruction
it's great too
And I would.

In his poem, Frost uses antithesis to contrastFire and iceas elements with devastating and catastrophic potential to end the world. Frost effectively demonstrates the same powers to destroy these elements, despite presenting them as opposing forces. In this case, the poet's antithesis has both a literal and a figurative interpretation. As the poem suggests, the world could literally end in fire and ice. But fire and ice are in contrast.SymbolAlso in the poem. Fire represents "desire", probably in the form of greed, the corruption of power, domination and control. On the other hand, ice represents "hate" in the form of prejudice, oppression, abandonment and isolation.

The presence of the antithesis in the poem is effective for the reader as evocative.Photosof fire and ice as opposing but physically destructive forces. Furthermore, the human characteristics associated with fire and ice, and what they represent as psychologically and socially destructive symbols, impact the reader in powerful and memorable ways. The antithesis furthers the reader's understanding that the origin of the end of the world may not be natural causes, but rather human action or behavior; and that the end of the world cannot simply be the destruction of the earth, but the destruction of humanity.

Example 4: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

  1. We have come to dedicate part of this field as the last resting place of those who gave their lives here so that this nation could live.

  2. The brave men living and dead who fought here have consecrated it far beyond our feeble ability to add or subtract.


  3. The world will barely notice and won't remember for long what we say here, but they can never forget what they did here.

These three examples from Abraham Lincoln's speech show the use of contradictory ideas put together in one sentence. They show him mentioning the living and the dead by putting them side by side. This antithesis helped Lincoln and alsoAmericafrom the ravages of the Civil War.


An antithesis helps to clarify and highlight an idea when it contradicts another idea in the first part of the sentence.Calle. This contrast feature helps readers make your arguments relevant, persuasive, and eloquent. Sentences that include the anthesis also become easy to remember, quote, and recall when necessary. When an antithesis occurs in a text, athe atmospherewhere a dialectic can occur and help writers and speakersHookYour audience easily with contrary statements.

Synonyms of antithesis

The antithesis is not exactSynonymousbut some words come close in meanings such as opposite, inversion, inversion, inversion, inversion, extreme, other side of the coin, or another side or contrast.


What is an example of antithesis literary device? ›

Consider William Shakespeare's famous line in Hamlet: “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” This is a great example of antithesis because it pairs two contrasting ideas—listening and speaking—in the same parallel structure. The effect of antithesis can be powerful.

What is the definition of antithesis and examples? ›

But antithesis normally means simply "opposite". Thus, war is the antithesis of peace, wealth is the antithesis of poverty, and love is the antithesis of hate.

What are 5 examples of antithesis? ›

Some Common Examples of Antithesis

Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open. Speech is silver, but silence is gold. Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer. Money is the root of all evil: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.

What is the literary definition of antithesis? ›

Antithesis Definition in Literature and Poetry

As a literary device, antithesis is two contrasting ideas juxtaposed against each other using parallel sentence structure. We'll talk more about what parallel structure is in a later section.

Is Antiphrasis a literary device? ›

Antiphrasis is a literary device which uses words or phrases to convey the opposite sense of their real meanings. As a figure of speech, the word or phrase is used in a way that is completely opposite to its literal meaning, which creates either irony or a comic effect in the sentence.

Where is antithesis used in Romeo and Juliet? ›

In Romeo's 'Banished' speech in Act 3 Scene 3, he uses antithesis to describe how it feels to be separated from Juliet. ''Tis torture and not mercy' (Romeo, 3:3) is just one example. Opposites like light and dark and heaven and hell are used a lot in Romeo and Juliet.

What is an example of antithetical in a sentence? ›

This is certainly antithetical to the interests of the nation. The arbitrary state and the society were completely disconnected and antithetical to each other.

What is antithesis quizlet? ›

Antithesis. A person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else. Parallel structure.

What are some examples of antithesis in movies? ›

In Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White and the Wicked Witch possess antithetical character traits. Snow White wanted to be kind and helpful to her fellow man, while the Wicked Witch's bitter jealousy prompts her to poison Snow White with an apple, thus taking away her beauty and charm.

What is an example of antiphrasis? ›

'Tis true, this god did shake! His coward lips did from their color fly, In these lines, which are located in Act I Scene 2, the writer uses an example of antiphrasis when the speaker, Cassius, calls Caesar a god. He reveals his true thoughts in the last line when he uses the word “coward” instead.

What is antiphrasis examples and definitions? ›

A figure of speech in which a single word is used in a sense directly opposite to its usual meaning, as in the naming of a giant as 'Tiny' or of an enemy as 'friend'; the briefest form of irony.

What is an example sentence for antiphrasis? ›

How to use antiphrasis in a sentence. The friend who presented me with him had given him, perhaps by antiphrasis, the startling name of Pelléas. Instances of antiphrasis in the names given to black slaves are very common.

What figure of speech is 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.”

What is antithesis in Hamlet? ›

Antithesis is one of Shakespeare's favourite dramatic devices. It refers to the use of words or phrases that are the opposite of each other. Antithesis is the key to understanding Hamlet and his struggle in this play.

Does antithesis have to be one sentence? ›

An antithesis must always contain two ideas within one statement. The ideas may not be structurally opposite, but they serve to be functionally opposite when comparing two ideas for emphasis.

How do you use anthesis in a sentence? ›

The flowers have nocturnal anthesis, with 1-20 flowers opening per inflorescence per night. Floral anthesis in all the study sites starts around 05h30 and most of the flowers are fully open by 06h30.

What is the base word of antithesis? ›

The noun antithesis comes from a Greek root meaning "opposition" and "set against." It's often used today when describing two ideas or terms that are placed in strong contrast to each other.

What is an example of antithesis used in a sentence? ›

Antithesis sentence example. Slavery is the antithesis of freedom. His character is the exact antithesis of Dan Dare's. This world is the only true purgatory and hell, being the antithesis of the world eternal, of the inward man renewed day by day, of Christ's peace and kingdom which are not of this world.

What is an antithesis example for kids? ›

Definition of Antithesis

Antitheses are common in both writing and speeches. Here are a few examples: Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. This famous expression by Muhammad Ali displays two contrasting animal actions: a silent (floating) butterfly and an aggressive (sting) bee.

What is an example sentence for antithetical? ›

This is certainly antithetical to the interests of the nation. The arbitrary state and the society were completely disconnected and antithetical to each other.

What are the 10 examples of anaphora? ›

Examples of Anaphora
  • #“Go big or go home.”
  • #“Be bold. Be brief. Be gone.”
  • #“Get busy living or get busy dying.”
  • #“Give me liberty or give me death.”
  • #“You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.”
  • #“Stay safe. Stay well. Stay happy.”
  • #“So many places, so little time.”
  • #“I wish I may; I wish I might.”
Nov 11, 2021


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