What Is Juxtaposition? Definition and Examples
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What Is Juxtaposition? Definition and Examples Image

Being familiar with different literary devices, including foreshadowing, diction, allusion, and others, can help to significantly improve your writing.

In fact, the skillful use of literary devices can elevate your written work and help you to convey deeper meanings and themes.

The Meaning of Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a literary device in which two or more ideas, places, characters, or actions are placed side by side with the intention of developing comparisons and contrasts.

For example, an author might make readers see how good a particular character is by placing them in juxtaposition with one that is a bit evil. By doing this, the goodness in one character is emphasized by how much worse the other character is.

Juxtaposition Examples

To better understand the concept of juxtaposition, here are some examples from literature.

Charles Dickens’ 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…”

This opening line from A Tale of Two Cities talks about the conflict and stark difference between London and Paris. Dickens wanted to express the huge disparity between the rich and the poor.

The setting of the story is during the French Revolution and ends with a man’s sacrifice for the woman he loves. The opening line makes us focus on the unfortunate scenario the story is built upon.

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Hermia: I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
Helena: O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
Hermia: I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
Helena: O that my prayers could such affection move!
Hermia: The more I hate, the more he follows me.
Helena: The more I love, the more he hateth me.

Here, readers can see the difference between Hermia’s near-disgust for Demetrius, while Helena wishes to be in her shoes. The two characters are juxtaposed in this scene, in which Helena is actually jealous of Hermia over Demetrius.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Demetrius, whom Helena loves, is courting Hermia, who instead loves another man named Lysander.

Amanda Brown’s Legally Blonde

In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is quite out of place at Harvard Law School. Her bubbly demeanor is juxtaposed with how almost everyone else acts and behaves in her new environment, Harvard Law School.

In the film adaptation, Elle’s personality is a cause for her to be shamed and made fun of. Everyone doubted that she would succeed, but she proved them wrong in the end, when being chic helped her win her first case.

Juxtaposition in a Sentence

  • The fact that comic books are next to the thick literature books is a juxtaposition that gave a unique quality to his study.
  • The juxtaposition of the pitbull puppy’s tiny head with its chunky body made it look so cute.
  • Dreams of happiness are often juxtaposed with dreams of sadness.
  • The juxtaposition of their strikingly different personalities made them an interesting pair.
  • The juxtaposition between the salty and sweet ingredients made for a great dessert.

More Literary Devices

Literary devices like juxtaposition can help to make writing more interesting and enjoyable to read, especially when it comes to character development.

Learn more about the best ways to use connotation, tone, metaphors, and more so you can craft stories like a pro.

Dis this blog post help you understand juxtaposition better? Let us know through the comments below.


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What Is Juxtaposition? Definition and Examples
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