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Juxtaposition- Definition and Examples

Definition of Juxtaposition

A juxtaposition occurs when two or more ideas, images, places, or characters-along with their characteristics or actions-are placed side by side, in order to compare and contrast them. This literary device helps to add a vividness to a given image, idea, place, or character.

Examples of Juxtaposition

Saint vs. Sinner:

A kindly, older nun was on her way to a parishioner's home to offer comfort during a trying time when she was robbed at gunpoint by a gruff man dressed in dark clothes.

Heaven vs. Hell:

Heaven is an idealized place where all the good people go; whereas, hell is a dark, tortuous place that people go to if they have sinned. Desirable versus Undesirable.

Nature vs. Colonization:

The wind was gently blowing the limbs of the great oak tree just outside our little cottage. The sky was a light blue with little puffy clouds scattered here and there. It was a peaceful place. One day, I was watching a beautiful little bird feeding her young when I heard the engine of a large machine. I began to panic, not knowing what was happening. Then, all of a sudden, I saw the massive yellow machine as it bulldozed all of the great oaks in it's path. The smoke from the machine filled the air and my lungs. I could hear the voices of men yelling to one another, and even laughter. The smoke cleared a bit and I saw that the tree that I had just been watching was now on the ground, the nest and the baby birds were now laid broken and dead on the ground next to the tree.

Death vs. a newborn baby

The hospital is a mecca of happiness and sadness. In one wing of the hospital, you could hear the labored screams of mothers bringing their babies into the world, and then if they are lucky, you will hear the crying of the babies as they are born. This new life brings with it love and hope for a better tomorrow. On the other side of the hospital, is the trauma center. Here, people are crying because their loved ones are injured or dying. There is hope, but that hope can be taken away in an instant.

Examples of Juxtaposition in Literature

John Milton's Paradise Lost. God and Satan are compared and contrasted

Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only" (1).
Antigone- Antigone vs. her father King Creon

William Shakespeare regularly uses juxtaposition in his plays:
Othello- Desdemona vs. Iago
The Merchant of Venice- Portia as a man vs. as a woman
Macbeth- Lady Macbeth vs. Macbeth
Romeo and Juliet- compares Juliet appearance with that of an Ethiopian.
The Tempest- compares the storm with Prospero

Examples of Juxtaposition in Pop Culture

Twilight Saga- Vampires vs. Werewolves
Beautiful Creatures series: Light Casters vs. Dark Casters




Sources

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1993.
"Juxtapose." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. .
"Juxtaposition." Literary Devices: Definitions and Examples of Literary Terms. 19 Apr. 2016. .

Published on April 19, 2016 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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