Self-discipline and dedication yield richer benefits than seeking immediate pleasure in the long run. In the informal essay "On Hating Piano Lessons" by Phyllis Theroux, this thesis is argued through the anecdote of the author's daughter disliking piano lessons. Theroux makes excellent use of stylistic devices throughout the essay, which keep the reader engaged and interested. The stylistic devices such as contrast and cause and effect used in "On Hating Piano Lessons" help demonstrate the thesis of the essay.
The first stylistic device shown in this essay is the use of contrast between the mother and her daughter. This use of contrast establishes that the mother knows what she is talking about and has experience. The mother knows that the daughter taking piano lessons will yield rich results, but the daughter hates taking them, saying they are too hard:.
My daughter thinks that I am cruel, that I don't understand her, that I am trying to force her to be something she is not. My daughter is right. I want her, when she is thirty-five or sixty and feeling temporarily low on being, to be able to converse with Mozart. (Theroux 206).
The contrast is used effectively by clearly defining the difference of opinions on piano lessons between mother and daughter. The mother has personal experience, whereas the daughter is young and does not see why she has to do something she dislikes. Theroux clearly shows both the mother and daughter's points of view on the lessons with reasons that make you see both sides of the issue, "My daughter thinks that I am cruel" versus "to be able to converse with Mozart." The contrast is between immediate happiness and long term rewards, and Theroux provides reasons that both are valid points. It is so effective in that it makes you as a reader have to choose to side with the mother or the daughter, and keeps the essay engaging and appealing.