AD's English Literature : Figures of Speech: Figures of Contrast

Figures of Speech: Figures of Contrast

II. Figures of Contrast.

1. (a) Education is to know something of everything, and everything of something.
(b) Who but must laugh, if such a man there be? Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?
(c) To err is human, to forgive divine.

Antithesis (Gk. anti, against, and thesis, a placing) is the placing of one word or fact against another for the sake of contrast. Almost every word has its opposite e.g. true, false; black, white and by expressly mentioning it we emphasise the word itself. Antithesis also includes words which without being exact opposites have a certain contrast, or which partly define another by subtracting from it its excess of meaning e.g.

Butchered to make a Roman holiday.
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
The cup that cheers, but not inebriates.

A Form of Antithesis is the Balanced Sentence, in which the words to be contrasted are put in corresponding places in the sentence e.g.

There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing ;
there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great
The Highest Good is the greatest happiness of the
greatest number.
Might is right.

Note. When the contrasted words are put not in parallel but in reverse order the antithesis is called chiasmus (Gk. chiazo, I mark diagonally) e.g.

With joy they heard the summons to arms, but
The order for peace was listened to with sullen looks.

2. The child is father to the man.
Great wits are, sure, to madness near allied.
We cannot see the wood for the trees.

An Epigram (Gk. epi, on, gramma, letter, or writing) is a pointed saying, whose apparent contradiction emphasis sits real meaning. An Epigram originally meant an inscription on a monument, then a short witty poem, and lastly a pointed saying. It consists in leading one to expect a certain conclusion, and then surprising him by something quite different. It may be regarded as an unexpected antithesis.

Forms of the Epigram are the (1) Seemingly Identical Assertion,
(2) Seeming Irrelevance, (3) Parody, and (4) Pun.

(1) What I have written, I have written.
There are business men, and business men,
(2) Where the snow falls, there is freedom.
(3) The survival of the unfit test.
(4) The parson told the sexton,
And the sexton tolled the bell.
Is life worth living? That depends on the liver.

The most important is Pun.

The Pun, or Paronomasia (Gk. para, beside, onoma, a name orword) is the play upon words carried to an excess. In the true pun there is no connection of meaning between the two uses of the word. It teaches nothing, and illustrates nothing, and is a mere exercise of ingenuity used chiefly by comic writers. Pun: A play on words that uses the similarity in sound between two words with distinctly different meanings. For example, the title of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest is a pun on the word earnest, which means serious or sober, and the name “Ernest.”
Sometimes the pun is almost an epigram e.g.

Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.
The Russian grandees came to Elizabeth's court, dropping pearls and vermin.
Brutus instituted liberty and the consulship.
Some killed partridges, others time only.
The moment and the vessel passed.
The Condensed Sentence is an abbreviated sentence in which ideas are brought together under one construction instead of being separated, though their unlike causes a feeling of incongruity.

Figure of Speech -Figures of Resemblance or Similarity

 Ardhendu De

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