Juxtaposition is placing two elements or words side by side and letting the reader or viewer compare them. This act compares and contrasts the two elements and can show irony, humor or sadness.
- Beauty and ugliness
- Belief and denial
- Bigotry and tolerance
- Calm and chaos
- Civilization and wilderness
- Dark and light
- Despair and hope
- Fact and fiction
- Foolish and serious
- Good and bad
- Hot and cold
- Leader and follower
- Poverty and wealth
- Success and failure
- Summer and winter
- Weakness and strength
- Young and old
Juxtaposition Examples in Literature
- Juxtaposing God and Satan - Paradise Lost by John Milton
- Juxtaposing the haves and have-nots before the French Revolution
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 - A Tales of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Juxtaposing the struggle for life and the acceptance of death
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. - Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas
- Juxtaposing light and darkness
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! / It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night; Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear- Romeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareMerry and tragical? Tedious and brief?; That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow!; How shall we find the concord of this discord? - A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
- Juxtaposing the angst of loving someone
I thoroughly hate loving you. Your heart is a perfectly-carved stone; Set deep into your chest, soft as granite. I grip you gently with angels' claws; Icy breath scorching your warm, shivering skin. Your hard topaz eyes shimmer liquidly; - Author unknown
- Juxtaposing violence with goodness
You will soon be asked to do great violence in the cause of good. - The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Juxaposition Examples in Movies
- In The Godfather, baptism juxtaposed with scenes of murders.
- In Jurassic Park: "Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear."
- In Joyeux Noël, a scene of lovers holding each other was juxtaposed against a scene of a soldier holding his dead brother.
- In Threads, shell-shocked nuclear survivors walk past poster of happy, smiling babies.
- In Fahrenheit 9/11, the song "What a Wonderful World" was playing during scenes of war and violence.
- In the opening scene of Sea of Love, the music is beautiful jazz and the scene shows the awful night life with hookers.
- In Dead Poets Society, the four pillars of tradition, honor, discipline and excellence are juxtaposed with the students’ four pillars of travesty, horror, decadence, and excrement.
- In Dead Poets Society, Neil is smart and popular but commits suicide at the end of the movie.
Reviewing juxtaposition examples shows how two words or elements or concepts can be compared to see how they are similar or how they differ.
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By YourDictionaryJuxtaposition is placing two elements or words side by side and letting the reader or viewer compare them. This act compares and contrasts the two elements and can show irony, humor or sadness.
Teach Figurative Language with Flocabulary
Check out the lyrics and more.Listen to Flocabulary’s Figurative Language song. You’ll learn all about juxtaposition, metaphor and more.
Looking to learn more about juxtaposition in poetry? Look no further! Today we’ll unpack juxtaposition: how to define it, why it’s used, and some examples of where to spot it.
Definition: Two unlike ideas are placed side by side.
Why Writers Use It: By placing two words or ideas next to one another, we can highlight the differences between them. Juxtaposition can be used on a small scale (like between words or images) or on a large scale (like between two characters or story lines). The effect can be funny or dramatic, depending on how it is used. A huge lion cowering with fear at the sight of a tiny mouse is a silly image. A grandmother holding a newborn baby might be a very powerful image, juxtaposing birth and old age.
Young & Old
Juxtaposition Examples in Hip-Hop
“Yeah, yeah, I’ma up at Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to De Niro, but I’ll be hood forever”
– Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind”
“Rough in the ghetto, but in jail he’s Jello”
– Kool G. Rap, “Road to the Riches”
“My eyes remain closed cause my highs are lows
I’m feeling the blows of rain cause my pain is cold
Now who am I, a man or a pawn in life?
Living day to day, I pray am I wrong or right”
– Cise Star, “High 2 Lows”
Juxtaposition in Shakespeare and Literature
“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
– Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
“Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?
That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow!
How shall we find the concord of this discord?”
– Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene i
For further Midsummer frolicking, watch one of our newest Shakespeare videos: “Lullaby.”
Check out the lyrics and more.
Some Days by Billy Collins
Some days I put the people in their places at the table,
bend their legs at the knees,
if they come with that feature,
and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs.
All afternoon they face one another,
the man in the brown suit,
the woman in the blue dress,
perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved.
But other days, I am the one
who is lifted up by the ribs,
then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse
to sit with the others at the long table.
but how would you like it
if you never knew from one day to the next
if you were going to spend it
striding around like a vivid god,
your shoulders in the clouds,
or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper,
staring straight ahead with your little plastic face?
Check Out the Previous Literary Terms in the Series