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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.The definition of antithesis requires this balanced grammatical structure.
Antithesis is the use of contrasting concepts, words, or sentences within parallel grammatical structures.
This combination of a balanced structure with opposite ideas serves to highlight the contrast between them.
That is to say, the two possible outcomes for Orr are opposite: either he’s deemed crazy and would thus not be forced to fly any more combat missions, or he’s sane and then would indeed have to fly them.
However, the one situation negates the possibility of the other, as only a sane man would be clear-headed enough to ask not to fly more missions.
For example, the following famous Muhammad Ali quote is an example of antithesis: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” This is an antithesis example because there is the contrast between the animals and their actions (the peaceful floating butterfly versus the aggressive stinging bee) combined with the parallel grammatical structure of similes indicated by “like a.” Ali is indicating the contrasting skills necessary to be a good boxer.
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Antithesis is very similar to juxtaposition, as juxtaposition also sets two different things close to each other to emphasize the difference between them.Dickens uses these antithetical pairs to show what a tumultuous time it was during the setting of his book.In this case, the use of antithesis is a rhetorical device that foreshadows the conflicts that will be central to the novel.This very famous quote explains the concept of the “Catch-22,” which became a popular idiomatic expression because of the book. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war.In fact, this example is not so much an antithetical statement but instead an antithetical situation. Antithesis parallels opposite concepts, while juxtaposition sets up a comparison and contrast between two concepts that can be either similar or different. Surely so many counties can’t all be worth dying for. He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive. You’re inches away from death every time you go on a mission. There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them.An antithesis is something that is the direct opposite of something else.Some examples would include a boy and girl standing next to each other and a glass of hot water next to a glass of cold water.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.