grammatically. In a balanced sentence, the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their likeness of structure, meaning, or length: e.g., “He maketh me lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters.” George Bernard Shaw said of writers: The ambition of the novice is to acquire the Literary Language; the struggle of the adept is to get rid of it. [Each part of the sentence follows the same pattern: subject, verb, infinitive phrase.] Content of a Balanced Sentence Balanced sentences are particularly effective if you have an idea that has a contrast or antithesis. Balanced sentences can emphasize the contrast so that the rhetorical pattern reflects and supports the logical pattern. No man has ever seen anything that Burne-Jones cannot paint, but many men have painted what Burne-Jones cannot see. (Shaw) And so my fellow Americans—ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. (Kennedy) If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. (Kennedy) It is not that today’s artists cannot paint, it is that today’s critics cannot see. (Rothko) Some of the above examples illustrate not only balanced sentences but also a device called “antimetabole,” in which the order of words is reversed in one of the parallel structures to produce a clever effect. The following are examples of antimetabole: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You can take the gorilla out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the gorilla. The Balanced Paragraph One can also develop an entire paragraph by balance. This is particularly useful if you are developing a series of contrasts. I felt myself in rebellion against the Greek concept of justice. That concept excused Laius of attacking Oedipus, but condemned Oedipus for defending himself. It tolerated a king’s
6 deliberate attempt to kill his baby son by piercing the infant’s feet and abandoning it on a mountain, but later branded the son’s unintentional killing of his father as murder. It held Oedipus responsible for his ignorance, but excused those who contributed to that ignorance. (Krutch) Natural order of a sentence involves constructing a sentence so the subject comes before the predicate Oranges grow in California. Inverted order of a sentence (sentence inversion) involves constructing a sentence so the predicate comes before the subject (this is a device in which normal sentence patterns are reversed to create an emphatic or rhythmic effect) In California grow oranges. Split order of a sentence divides the predicate into two parts with the subject coming in the middle In California oranges grow. VerbalsThe three types of verbals arePARTICIPLES, GERUNDS, and INFINITIVES.
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