Difference between paradox antithesis
The whole thing seems to explode, but the nature of the explosion is worth noticing. It consists of paradoxes that clinch the new point of view, the larger interpretations of life and death, by showing the both-sidedness of the terms, showing that "each has in its own right or in its own nature the charac- ter of the other.
To forgo all the issues of living in a parlour with a regulated temperature — as if that were not to die a hundred times over, and for ten years at a stretch. There is no opposition. From the new point of view, what is frequently called living is really dying or worse, and what is frequently called dying is really living. Obviously this must end the essay.
It takes but a little generalization to bring out clearly the structural correspondence of this essay to the typical lyric. Unless the interest be of an abiding sort, unless matter and manner are completely fused in one, and the whole is invested with a fadeless power and charm — unless the writing be literature — we have something other than a true Essay. Within this narrowed and charmed field of prose, the Essay, to my mind, seems to be in essence a Prose Poem, con- fined for the most part to motifs that may broadly be called lyrical, and standing to lyrics proper much as the novel stands to the epic, or as the prose drama stands to drama in verse.
Then follows the development, emotional and intellectual, necessitated by this contradiction; in the course of this develop- ment the reader is made to sympathize with those who prac- tise rather than with those who preach, and is told to look again at the antithesis from his new point of view; he finds that this new point of view involves a reinterpretation of one at least of the terms of the antithesis; then he is told definitely that the attitude which he has acquired is one good for him and for society.
The final stage consists in the clinching of the new in- terpretation by the intellectual resolution of the antithesis, the resolution that completes its life cycle and brings about what might well be called a more normal state of mind. Throughout the process the antithesis remains in the foreground of conscious- ness.
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The fact that this one essay expresses so perfectly the logic of antithesis and hence attains a structure comparable to that of the lyric would not be of especial significance were it not that a number of the most characteristic of Stevenson's essays show, to a greater or lesser degree, the same kind of development. It is worth while to examine two more of them in some detail. The situation which furnishes the stimulus is much the same as that in "Aes Triplex. The sentiments of a man while he is full of ardour and hope are to be received, it is supposed, with some qualification.
But when the same person has ignominiously failed and begins to eat up his words, he should be listened to like an oracle. But here again there is the germ of future development: the ordinary position is felt to limited range of theme and of treatment; and the ordered beauty through exclusion of all disordered moods and fiercer passions — these flow directly from the presence and dominance of the lyrical element, and these are the constant features of the essay.
The second paragraph shows the discrepancy between theory and practise in this matter of prudential proverbs. Paragraph three focusses the reader's attention again definitely on the proverbs of old men concerning life, and states that one pole of the age and youth antithesis is as good as the other — already there is a hint of the indifference that always appears with the both-sidedness of the terms.
Examples of Antithesis
In this and the several succeeding paragraphs he shows that opinions are but stages on the way to truth, each stage appro- priate to its own time, youth or age. Up to tliis point Stevenson has not relied primarily on para- doxes, showing the interchangeableness of the two terms, to reconcile the opposition; he has tried to accomplish his end by considering the opposed sets of opinions from the relative or functional standpoint. In paragraphs eight, nine and ten, however, he gives the typical paradoxical resolution, though in terms of prudence and imprudence rather than age and youth. What is commonly called prudence is really imprudence, he says, and vice versa.
It seems just as much to the point, that youth comes first. And the scale fairly kicks the beam, if you go on to add that age, in a majority of cases, never comes at all. To be suddenly snuffed out in the middle of ambitious schemes, is tragical enough at best; but when a man has been grudging himself his own life in the mean- while, and saving up everything for the festival that was never Paradox and Antithesis to be, it becomes that hysterically moving sort of tragedy which lies on the confines of farce.
We should not compliment a hungry man, who should refuse a whole dinner and reserve all his appetite for the dessert, before he knew whether there was to be any dessert or not. If there be such a thing as impru- dence in the world, we surely have it here. A full, busy youth is your only prelude to a self-contained and independent age; and the muff inevitably develops into the bore.
The follies of youth have a basis in sound reason, just as much as the embarrassing questions put by babes and sucklings. Their most antisocial acts indicate the defects of our society. There is nothing more certain than that both are right, except perhaps that both are wrong.
Let them agree to differ; for who knows but what agreeing to differ may not be a form of agreement rather than a form of difference? And this admission he makes by means of a number of paradoxes.
For here have I fairly talkfed myself into thinking that we have the whole thing before us at last; that there is no answer to the mystery except that there are as many as you please; that there is no center to the maze because, like the famous sphere, its centre is everywhere; and that agreeing to differ with every ceremony Snyder of politeness, is the only 'one undisturbed song of pure concent' to which we are ever likely to lend our musical voices. The stimulus is here introduced with the statement that even in an age when an industrious life is conceded to be the only respecta- ble kind, "idleness, so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself.
The first two paragraphs are given to stating the situation and apologizing for his attempt, or at least stating its difficulties. Paragraphs three and four, with the ensuing dialogue between the truant and Mr. Worldly Wiseman, develop the antithesis by raising a certain kind of idleness, idleness in youth, to the level of its opposite, industry. Then in paragraph seven, in considering the two meanings of industry, or of its associate fact, Stevenson criticizes the narrow, exclusive one.
An inquiry must be in some acknowledged direction, with a name to go by; oir else you are not inquiring at all, only lounging; and the workhouse is too good for you. There is a sort of dead-alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exer- cise of some conventional occupation. Paragraph nine brings out the social side of the morality involved: "But it is not only the person himself who suffers from his busy habits, but his wife and children, his friends and relations, and down to the very people he sits with in a railway carriage or an omnibus.
Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of Paradox and Antithesis many other things. And it is by no means certain that a man's business is the most important thing he has to do. To an impartial estimate it will seem clear that many of the wisest, most virtuous, and most beneficent parts that are to be played upon the Theatre of Life are filled by gratuitous performers, and pass, among the world at large, as phases of idleness.
Difference Between Oxymoron and Paradox
For what cause do they embitter their own and other people's lives? Although "Aes Triplex" is undoubtedly the most perfect specimen, ttie three essays considered show certain common characteristics that warrant the use of the word type. All deal with ordinary antitheses, expressing at the outset a vague dissatisfaction with the prevailing attitude toward the antithet- ical terms. In the course of their development, through subtle emotional and intellectual appeals, frequently in the form of paradox, all work up to the new point of view which resolves the antithesis.
Difference Between Figures Speech Antithesis And Paradox
Then, the antithesis being resolved, all close with the logical concession that the whole thing is negligible anyway; the antithesis has lived its life, and done its work, and it is allowed to die. All exemplify the essentials of the logic of antithesis, the equalization of the poles through the develop- ment of dual meanings, these dual meanings always involving the paradoxical fact that one pole, in one of its meanings, is the equivalent of the other in one of its meanings.
Many other of Stevenson's essays show the same character- istics, though not so fully developed. Excluding the travel essays and those that are biographical and critical as of essen- tially different types from the more intimate essays being considered, it would be fair to name as the best known and most typical of Stevenson, "Virginibus Puerisque" in its four parts, "Ordered South," "El Dorado," "Walking Tours," "The Lantern Bearers," "A Christmas Sermon," and "Pulvis et Umbra.
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But it is fair to say that the general trend of the group is to show, in one way and another, that there is no real antithesis between ordinary life and love. The first part concludes with the statement that "marriage is like life in this — that it is a field of battle, and not a bed of roses. Stevenson discounts the idea that marriage is a panacea for all ills and at the same time he decries the hesitation of his youths and maidens who hold aloof.
He reconciles hope and fear in the larger conception, which he calls faith.
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The fourth part, "Truth of Intercourse," which is, I think, the only part which remains in the reader's mind as a definite unit, deals with the proposi- tion that it is easy to tell the truth, and proves the converse, by showing truth to be a much more complex, a much larger thing than ordinarily supposed, the usual conception of truth appearing as little more than falsehood. There is in it relatively little opportunity for the subtle determination of the reader's attitude to which Stevenson was given, and little for open moralizing.
Yet the essay is in its entirety simply the resolu- tion of an antithesis. The first three paragraphs tell of the joys which the invalid anticipates and experiences at the beginning of his season of banishment. The next two tell of his disappoint- ment when he reaUzes that he has lost the power of thorough- going enjoyment. Then the last seven show the peculiarly rare quality of the joys that do come to the invalid, and leave the reader with the feeling that there is full compensation for what is lost.
It is interesting that this essay, in which Stevenson drew a somewhat conventional moral in a very explicit way is the one that he later had to modify by a foot-note, in the interests of honesty, as he tells us. It seems, Stevenson says, as though attainment was the greatest thing Paradox and Antithesis in life, and then he goes on to show that what gives attainment its value is really the aspiration involved. He closes with a paradoxical sentence that shows how each of the terms of the antithesis owes its value to the quality of its opposite which it contains.
Stevenson begins by paradoxically contradicting the ordinary conception of a walking tour and gives his own conception, very different, and to his mind very much better. There are many ways of seeing landscape quite as good; and none more vivid, in spite of canting dilettantes, than from a railway train. But landscape on a walking tour is quite accessory. He who is indeed of the brotherhood does not voyage in quest of the picturesque, but of certain jolly humours — of the hope and spirit with which the march begins at morn- ing, and the peace and spiritual repletion of the evening's rest.
Human experi- ence is not yet able to reply; but at least you have had a fine moment, and looked down upon all the kingdoms of the earth. It may be contended rather, that this somewhat minor bard in almost every case survives, and is the spice of life to his possessor.