Contrast is a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions in a narrative or poem are juxtaposed to develop comparisons and contrasts.
In literature, contrast is a useful tool for writers to depict their characters in detail, create tension and achieve a rhetorical effect. It is a human quality to be able to easily understand one thing by comparing it to another. Hence, a writer can convey the "good" in a certain sense of character to readers by placing him or her next to a character who is predominantly "bad". Hence, the good in one character is highlighted by the bad in the other character. The juxtaposition is useful in this case for the development of characters.
Examples of juxtaposition in literature
Example 1: Paradise Lost (by John Milton)
John Milton's Lost Paradise is one of the narrative poems that can serve as an example of the juxtaposition. This well-crafted literary piece is clearly based on the juxtaposition of two characters: God and Satan. Often times in the poem the bad qualities of Satan and the good qualities of God are placed side by side and the comparison brings to the surface the contrast between the two characters. The comparison in this poem helps us to come to the conclusion that Satan deserves his expulsion from Paradise because he is unwilling to submit to God's will.
Example 2: A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens)
Charles Dickens uses the juxtaposition technique in the opening line of his novel A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst time, it was the age of Wisdom, it was the age of stupidity, it was the age of faith, it was the age of unbelief, it was the time of light, it was the time of darkness, it was the source of hope, it was the winter of despair , we had it all in front of us, we had nothing in front of us, we all went straight to heaven, we all went straight the other way… ”
To give us an idea of the factors responsible for the French revolution, Dickens uses a juxtaposition throughout the novel. Here the belongings are juxtaposed to highlight the existence of serious differences and discord in French society at the time, which ultimately paved the way for the revolution.If you look at the juxtaposition, you can vividly imagine the calami tous atmosphere before the revolution , and understand their need at this time.
Example 3: Don't go gently into that good night (By Dylan Thomas)
We can also see examples of juxtapositions in poetry.
“Tombs, near death, who with dazzling eyes see
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, anger against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad heights,
Course, bless me now with your violent tears, I pray.
Do you don't go in gently this good night.
anger, anger against the dying of the light. “
In Dylan Thomas' poem Do not go gently into that good night, the speaker asks his father not to give up, like ordinary dying men, but to fight to survive. The juxtaposition consists in the action of fighting for life in order to postpone death, by not just lying down to wait for death.
Example # 4: Romeo and Juliet (By William Shakespeare)
Juxtaposition is a literary device that William Shakespeare uses most frequently in his Romeo and Juliet. We observe the juxtaposition of light and dark repeatedly. Consider an example from Act I, Scene V:
"Oh, she teaches torches to shine!
It seems to hang from the cheek of the night
Like a rich jewel in the ear of an Ethiopian"
Here, the face Juliet's radiance is juxtaposed with the dark skin of a black African. Romeo admires Juliet says her face looks brighter than the lit torches in the hallway. He says that at night his face glows like a brilliant jewel that glows against the dark skin of an African.
Writers employ the literary technique of juxtaposition in order to surprise their readers and arouse their interest, by developing a comparison between two different things by placing them next to each other. A given image controls the rhythm of the poem or a narrative and provides a logical connection between two vague concepts.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw