“Juxtaposition is a literary device wherein the author places a person, concept, place, idea or theme parallel to another. The purpose of juxtaposing two directly or indirectly related entities close together in literature is to highlight the contrast between the two and compare them. This literary device is usually used for etching out a character in detail, creating suspense or lending a rhetorical effect”(Juxtaposition, literary-devices.com).
The importance of using juxtaposition
“Juxtaposition is an important literary term in that it highlights contrasts between two things but also invites comparisons. This device can be used to fully illustrate a character in a novel, complicate a poem’s subjects, or convince an audience to feel a certain way about the subjects” (Juxtaposition, literaryterms.net).
Related term: Foil.
Examples at Juxtaposition, literaryterms.net
- Heaven and Hell are juxtaposed (paradise vs. suffering) in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the foils (opposite in character) are God and Satan (see VI)
- The butler (II. Examples of Juxtaposition, Example 1)
“A butler spends his days in a beautiful mansion dressed in a tuxedo, but returns home to a closet-sized apartment in a rundown part of town.”
“Example 1 juxtaposes two settings: a wealthy person’s mansion and a poor butler’s apartment. Such juxtaposition serves to highlight just how different the butler’s quality of living is from his employer’s.”
- Waitress example (II. Examples of Juxtaposition, Example 2, with the explanation in the second paragraph under III: The Importance of Using Juxtaposition)
- Hogwarts and the muggle world (ours) are juxtaposed, where the foils are Harry Potter and Voldemort (note that Harry and Draco Malfoy are also foils: opposite characters/choices in similar circumstances)
- Love and war (“All’s fair in love and war.”)
- Examples of Juxtaposition in Literature and Pop Culture with movie trailers and videos (see IV and V)
In my novel BEYOND THE PRECIPICE, I juxtaposed conditional and unconditional love (discussed in L is for Love, Actually) to bring out and contrast the features of each while creating man vs. himself and man vs. man conflict. The message I hope to get across is how critical unconditional love is to families and partners, and conversely how damaging conditional love is. (Conditional love is not love; it’s control.)
Note: I used the crutch word “just” deliberately in the title. Normally, this is a word I would remove from my writing as much as possible. (I use it sometimes in dialogue because the characters talk that way–less formal, less correct, more lifelike.) To read about crutch words, visit Allison Maruska’s Letter J entry for today: Story Stuff: J Is For Just (And Other Crutch Words).
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