Antithesis: opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.
a. My heart was a sort of charnel; it will now be a shrine.
b. Regard not then if wit be old or new, but blame the false, and value still the true.
c. Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. --Barry Goldwater
d. Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. --Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
e. “The vases of the classical period are but the reflection of classical beauty; the vases of the archaic period are beauty itself." Sir John Beazley *Demosthenes, Olynthiac 2.26
f. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities.
g. Grendel kills people; Beowulf saves them.
h. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
Related Term: Juxtaposition, in which normally unassociated words or phrases are placed next to each other for effect. For example,
“That we are overtaxed from the moment we awaken and ring for our orange juice.” [can you be overtaxed if you can afford a servant to bring you orange juice?]
“Yes, I dote on Miss Georgiana!” cried the Abbot. “Little darling!—with her long curls and her blue eyes, and such a sweet colour as she has; just as if she were painted!—Bessie, I could fancy a Welsh rabbit for supper!” [Why does the Abbot think of dinner in the midst of praising Georgiana?]
The store was loud and crowded—I desired a long nap. [at first glance, these juxtaposed thoughts have no relevance, but consider the effect the crowd might have had on the speaker—perhaps s/he desired an escape to a place/time of solitude.]
Related Term: Contrast. Sometimes writers can best make a point by showing what something is not. Antithetical sentences show some form of opposition. The statements go against each other. This opposition, or contrast, may help the writer make a point, and thereby help the reader understand the writer's intent.
Significance for AP analysis:
Why might a writer use antithetical sentences? –There are several possibilities: (1.) Consider that the emphasis of the sentence usually falls on the second part, which stands in opposition to the first.(2.) The reader’s attention will be drawn to the contrast between two things. (3.) The balanced sentences are often memorable, written in a catchy, rhythmic manner—note that several of the examples are essentially thesis statements, used to express the speaker’s fundamental viewpoint. And (4.) note how the sentences stand out—they are unusual, abnormal attention-getters.