Antithesis Examples in LiteraturePin

Antithesis Examples in Literature | Antithesis in a Sentence

Today, you will learn about Antithesis,


The first known use of antithesis dates back to 1529.


  • Two opposite ideas put together in a sentence to achieve a contrasting effect.
  • The rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences (as in “action, not words” or “they promised freedom and provided slavery”).
  • Fundamentally, contrasting ideas sharpened by the use of opposite or noticeable different meanings.


Antithesis is the term used to refer to an author’s use of two contrasting or opposite terms in a sentence for effect. The two terms are set near each other to enhance or highlight the contrast in opposite meanings. Sometimes, characters in literary works are the antithesis of each other. The two characters are shown as opposites in order to highlight the good qualities of one and the evil qualities of the other.

According to Aristotle, the use of an antithesis makes the audience better understand the point the speaker is trying to make. Further explained, the comparison of two situations or ideas makes choosing the correct one simpler. Aristotle states that antithesis in rhetoric is similar to syllogism due to the presentation of two conclusions within a statement.

Antithesis Examples

  1. Many were called for the interview but few are chosen for the appointment.
  2. Although I was punished yet I realized my mistake.
  3. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
  4. Every human has a good heart but few have a good soul
  5. The boys were playing cricket but there was no playground there
  6. You’re easy to love
  7. People gathered there to purchase sugar but there was no sugar store there
  8. Everyone wants to become rich but a few have the guts to pay for it
  9. Easy to read this story but complicated to understand
  10. Feeling pleasure to work with you despite disagreeing with your ideas
  11. Even though the sun shines, I can feel the rain.
  12. Things are easy to do but not in every case

Examples in Literature

This literary device is used to persuade the audience to feel a certain way. Some of the authors relied heavily upon antithesis. In fact, it’s one of the best way to develop a conflict, paving the way to a resolution. It also allows the good character to develop some strength in his character and fight back against evil forces.

Here are some notable examples of antithesis in literature.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

Chas. Dickens, A Tale of two Cities


Here, Dickens symbolized the idea of antithesis that how can anything be both good and bad? In truth, life is always a simultaneous balance of the two.

“Interestingly, the contrast isn’t stark”.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare    


Marcus Brutus and Mark Antony were painted in opposite colors. Shakespeare takes a more subtle approach to antithesis here, portraying Brutus as an honorable – yet slightly naïve – man. Antony, too, was an honorable man, but he possessed a certain ruthlessness and ambition that Brutus was lacking.

“To err is human; to forgive divine.”

An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope


This line is painting a striking image and driving a point home. Mistakes are a part of what it means to be human. However, if you want to elevate yourself to a status higher than humankind, you’ll have to learn to forgive one another.

“Give every man thy ear, but few they voice”.

Hamlet by Shakespeare


The maxim is based on the measure of wisdom. Man is supposed to listen everyone and speak very less. Listening complies and patiently shows one’s wisdom and being silent prove this. Listening to every bit gives a precious knowledge and boots up the wisdom.

“Crafty men contemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them.” 

“Of studies” by Francis Bacon


The men who are hard workers or primitive men hate or contemn studies. However, the lads who have simple wits admire them. Moreover, the lads who are wise use them practically.

“In my beginning is my end. In succession Houses rise  

and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place

Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.

Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires…

“Four Quartets” by T.S. Eliot’s


Here Eliot uses antithesis to describe the cycle of life, which is continuously passing from beginning to end, from rise to fall, and from old to new.

“Les wit than mimic, more a wit than wise”.

Moral Essays by Alexander Pope

Here the two contrasting effects have been described between wit and mimic and wit and wise. Less wit is more effective than mimicry and more wit is better than becoming wise.

Tips on Using Antithesis in Your Writing

Antithesis Vs. Parallel Structure

When writing antithesis in a sentence, you have the tempo of each piece to be as similar as possible. Parallel structure is important when writing antithesis. Although the parallel structure does not need to be exact but the closer words of antithesis make more rhythmic effect in a sentence.

Conflicting emotion

While writing antithesis, it should be kept in mind that conflicting emotion would not occur in sentence otherwise the spirit of sentence would become finished.

Contrasting Ideas

Think of places in your writing that would benefit from comparing two contrasting ideas. Is there a setting that embodies opposing attributes? The two concepts don’t need to be exact opposites-like light and dark-but should be different and distinct, like, say, like excitement and frustration.

Forceful Impact

As discussed earlier that antithesis is a rhetorical devices, therefore try to use antithesis with light selection of words otherwise your writing will become dull.

Correct use of antitheses

When you are creating a story as an artistic exercise, you should learn how to correctly use literary devices in your writing. To use the correct antitheses includes invention of vivid characters, write realistic dialogue. Your experience into stories also create impact in writing antithesis.

Character development

When writing antithesis, it always remember that the quality of antitheses create impact in character development which highlight the character from every angle, so the choice of antithesis should be close to the characteristics of a character.

Creating suspense

Sometimes, writers in order to create suspense in a sentence according to situation use antithesis so that the interest of audience is gain. This style of writing is more exclusive which create personal interest of the reader.

Further Reading

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *