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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?

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Mar 12 '11 at 15:40

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

    
This seems more suited toward the English.SE. Why was it migrated here? –  Ralph Gallagher Mar 12 '11 at 16:37
    
@Ralph: I was wondering the same thing, but if they don't want it, then leave it here. It's answered. –  John Smithers Mar 12 '11 at 18:28
    
@Ralph Gallagher: That's what I'm wondering. I answered it on English.SE. –  Robusto Mar 12 '11 at 18:51
    
I just started a meta discussion about questions like this: meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/239/… –  Ralph Gallagher Mar 12 '11 at 19:00
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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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