All terms

What is an Antithesis?

Contrasting or opposing ideas expressed in parallel syntax.

Opposites Attract: An Introduction to Antithesis in Creative Writing

If you're looking to add some flavor to your writing and create a powerful impact on your readers, antithesis is your go-to literary device.

Also known as contrast or opposition, antithesis is the art of positioning opposing ideas side by side. The contrast draws attention to the differences between the two, adding tension, excitement, and nuance to your writing.

Antithesis is often used in parallel syntax, meaning the opposing ideas are presented in a similar structure to emphasize their differences and make them stand out.

For example, in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, the famous opening line uses antithesis in parallel: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...'

Without antithesis, writing can become flat and monotonous. But with it, you can create a vivid and memorable experience for your readers. So don't be afraid to experiment with opposing ideas and parallel syntax to see the magic of antithesis come alive in your writing.

The Yin and Yang of Literature: Examples of Antithesis in Well-Known Novels

Examples of antithesis can be found in countless literary works. Here are just two to spark your inspiration.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

In the famous soliloquy, Hamlet muses on the idea of life and death with contrasting parallelism: '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…'

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of the most well-known examples of antithesis comes from The Great Gatsby's opening line: 'In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. / Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'