I wanted clarification on what techniques are employed in the following quote:

I was benevolent and good but misery made me a fiend.

Is this an example of high modality, antithesis - or is there something more specific?

  • This seems more suited toward the English.SE. Why was it migrated here? Mar 12, 2011 at 16:37
  • @Ralph: I was wondering the same thing, but if they don't want it, then leave it here. It's answered. Mar 12, 2011 at 18:28
  • @Ralph Gallagher: That's what I'm wondering. I answered it on English.SE.
    – Robusto
    Mar 12, 2011 at 18:51
  • I just started a meta discussion about questions like this: meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/239/… Mar 12, 2011 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


This is a pretty classic example of antithesis:

a figure of speech in which an opposition or contrast of ideas is expressed by parallelism of words that are the opposites of, or strongly contrasted with, each other, such as “hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all" [NOAD]

There is additionally a slight chiastic structure, a reversal of order: "I was X ... something made me Y .."

As well, there is some hint of prosody and symmetry: The first clause has four strong beats, and so does the second.

And, finally, there is some alliteration: "misery made me" ...

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