Abbildungen der Seite

antithesis in which there is an opposition in language without any in thought, is always offensive. This figure is not suited to the expression of strong passion, though it may be employed occasionally with effect in the higher forms of prose. Used judiciously, antithesis is a figure of great beauty, but its frequent recurrence gives to a discourse the appearance of artifice and affectation.


DIRECTION.— Explain the antithesis in each of the following sentences by pointing out the words which denote the things contrasted:

1. When all the blandishments of life are gone,

The coward sneaks to death, the brave live on. 2. If goodness lead him not, yet weariness may toss him to my breast.

3. Too rashly charged the troops of Error, and remain as trophies unto the enemies of Truth.

4. On eagles' wings immortal scandals fly,

While virtuous actions are but born and die.
5. In peace a charge, in war a weak defense.
6. Art may err,

but Nature can not miss.
7. Fools admire, but men of sense approve.

8. For words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools.

9. Where the law ends, tyranny begins. 10. For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

11. In the world, a man lives in his own age; in solitude, in all ages.

12. Plato's arrow, aimed at the stars, was followed by a track of dazzling radiance, but it struck nothing; Bacon fixed his eye on a mark which was placed on the earth, and within bow-shot, and hit it in the white.

13. Speech was given to the ordinary sort of men, whereby to communicate their mind; but to wise men, whereby to conceal it.

14. As Hastings himself said, the arraignment had taken place before one generation, and the judgment was pronounced by another.

15. He knew that as they had worshiped some gods from love, so they worshiped others from fear.

16. The Saxon words are simple, homely, and substantial, fitted for every-day events and natural feelings; while the French and Latin words are elegant, dignified, and artificial, fitted for the pomp of rhetoric, the subtlety of disputation, or the courtly reserve of diplomacy. 17. Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,

In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah offering each the bloom or

Puts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right;
And the choice goes on forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

DIRECTION. – Bring examples of antithesis to the class.


Epigram at first meant an inscription on a monument. Such inscriptions are usually short, containing as much as possible in a few words; hence, Epigram came to signify any pointed expression. As a figure of speech, it now means a statement in which there is an apparent contradiction between the form of the expression and the meaning really intended. Epigram is somewhat akin to Antithesis, since in both these figures there is the element of contrariety. In antithesis it is the contrariety between two different things brought together; but in epigram it is the contrariety between the apparent meaning of the words and the real meaning. Thus, “Prosperity gains friends, but adversity tries them" is an antithesis; "Some are too foolish to commit follies” is an epigram—a contradiction between the sense and the form of the words. The force of epigram lies in the pleasant surprise attendant upon the perception of the real meaning.


DIRECTION.–Ascertain the real meaning in the following seniences, and show the contrariety between it and the apparent meaning:

1. Dark with excessive brightness.
2. Solitude is sometimes best society.
3. To be once in doubt is once to be resolved.
4. I believe it because it is impossible.

5. Men of most renowned virtue have sometimes by transgressing most truly kept the law.

6. Learning hath gained most by those books by which the printers have lost.

7. Our antagonist is our helper.

8. The wind and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.

9. Never less alone than when alone.
10. The child is father of the man.
II. And he is oft the wisest man, who is not wise at all.
12. The silent organ loudest chants the master's requiem.
13. He is a man of principle, in proportion to his interest.
14. Language is the art of concealing thought.
15. A favorite has no friend.

DIRECTION. – Bring into the class examples of epigram, and express their hidden meaning in language that may be clearly understood.


Irony is a figure in which the meaning is contrary to what is expressed. The writer seems to praise what is base and foolish, and in doing so sets forth the contrast between the real character of the object and what is said of it. It is a forcible figure, but it has the disadvantage of being very liable to be misunderstood; in oral discourse there is something in the tone or manner to show the real drift of the speaker; in written discourse, this aid is wanting;


hence, great care is necessary to make it clear that the opposite of what is said is intended. Another disadvantage is, that it is personal, and exhibits those against whom it is directed, in a ridiculous light; as it thus serves chiefly to expose and humiliate, it must be used with moderation and discretion. Vices and follies of all kinds are often more effectually exposed by irony than by serious reasoning. Irony sometimes conveys a compliment in the guise of an insult, but more frequently an insult in the guise of a compliment.


DIRECTION.-Point out the real meaning in the following sentences:

1. Pensive poets painful vigils keep, sleepless themselves to give their readers sleep.

2. Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached the ground, encumbers him with help?

3. O excellent interpreter of the law, master of iniquity! correcter and amender of our constitution !

4. Magnificent spectacle of human happiness!
5. A noisy man is always in the right.
6. A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.
7. It is the divine right of kings to govern wrong.

8. Great families of state we show, and lords, whose parents were the Lord knows whò. 9.

Blest paper credit ! last and best supply! that lends corruption lighter wings to fly.

10. They made and recorded a sort of institute and digest of anarchy, called the “Rights of Man."

11. Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle repose beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud, and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.

12. No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

13. Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked.

DIRECTION. – Bring into the class examples of irony, and express the real meaning in plain language.


Hyperbole consists in magnifying an object beyond the bounds of what is even possible; as, “He was a man of boundless knowledge.” It is the natural expression of strong passion and emotion, and is much used in poetry and oratory. To use hyperbole in serious prose, the objects must be great and unusual, capable of producing extraordinary effects. Its use with common, trivial objects is feeble and unnatural. It should not be introduced unless the imagination and feelings of the reader are prepared to admit it; even then it should be brief, and used sparingly. This figure is of more frequent occurrence when a comic effect is intended; as, “The English gain two hours a day by clipping words.”

“In sanguine temperaments or impulsive natures,” says Graham, this tendency to exaggerate is very common. With some persons everything is magnificent! splendid! sublime !! awful!!! They never condescend to use more ordinary or moderate terms. They seem always on stilts, raised above common mortals. Sometimes they will carry this feeling so far as to make use—no doubt unconsciously—of contradictory terms, such as 'immensely small,' 'exquisitely ugly,' 'sublime nonsense,' etc. And such expressions are not confined to their spoken language, but find their way into whatever they may be called on to write. It is hardly

« ZurückWeiter »