By: Erin Payne

What is juxtaposition?

Juxtaposition is defined as a poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another in order to create an effect of surprise and wit. Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call to attention two dissimilar ideas, images, or metaphors in order to emphasize the specific and opposing characteristics of each.

Ex.) “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King

Here are some examples of juxtaposition...

Charles Dicken's novel “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…”

Characters can also pose as juxtapositions. Many times an author will place two opposing characters (commonly the protagonist and the antagonist) in a situation in order to better define each individual's personality and characteristics. Take for example Don Pedro and Don John of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Don Pedro can be identified as the generous, intelligent and courteous nobleman of Aragon, while his illegitimate "bastard" brother Don John can be considered the villainous and spiteful adversary of the play. Both brothers work against one another as a juxtaposition of good vs. evil.

Juxtaposition: Part 1 - Visual images

Now time for some practice!

Can you find the juxtaposition(s) in the examples below?

“Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas:

“Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Lost-Season 1 (Pilot)

Works Cited

"Juxtaposition - Examples and Definition of Juxtaposition." Literary Devices. Literarydevices.net. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://literarydevices.net/juxtaposition/>.

"Much Ado About Nothing - Character List."SparkNotes. SparkNotes. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/muchado/characters.html>.

Juxtaposition: Part 1 - Visual Images. Perf. Leland Bobbe, Alex Persani, and Jose Loaiza Ontiveros. Youtube.com, 2013. Film.

Lost - Pilot: Part 1. Perf. Matthew Fox, Emilie De Ravin, Naveen Andrews, Maggie Grace, Geoff Heise, Faith Fay, Dane Justman, and More. Youtube.com, 2004. Film.