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The word antithesis is derived from the Greek anti meaning “against,” and tithenai meaning “to place.” Together, antithenai means “set against,” which dates from the early 16th century and late Middle English.Antithesis draws the attention of readers by employing two opposite ideas in the same context.Antithesis is the use of contrasting concepts, words, or sentences within parallel grammatical structures.
Juxtaposition is used by many authors in order to portray deeper characterization, and create suspense and rhetorical effect.
Juxtaposing characters who are predominantly good with characters who are predominantly evil, for instance, brings out their strongest qualities in the readers’ minds.
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.
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?
by William Shakespeare) Arguably the most famous six words in all of Shakespeare’s work are an example of antithesis.
Antithesis is a common theme in English writing, and some famous English writers who used the literary device frequently include Alexander Pope, Lyly, Arthur Young, Samuel Johnson, Edward Gibbon, and John Dryden.
Dryden used the following example of antithesis in his poem “The Hind and the Panther”: “Too black for heaven, and yet too white for hell.”Antithesis can delve into the meaning of understood terms for a deeper definition, as in the statement “True good cannot be known unless true evil is, as well.”Antithesis is related to juxtaposition, but is not the same.