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Questions & Answers

What is juxtaposition?

Definition of juxtaposition:

Juxtaposition means placing two things side by side so as to highlight their differences. Writers use it for rhetorical effect. Writers juxtapose divergent elements frequently: wealth and poverty, beauty and ugliness, or darkness and light. Think of Cinderella—her goodness and moral virtue are all the more clear to readers because her wicked stepsisters are there for contrast. The term “juxtaposition” comes from the blending of a Latin word, “juxta,” meaning “next,” and the French “position.”

Example of Juxtaposition in sentences:

Example 1: The juxtaposition of that reality with the unreal strengthens both.

Example 2: This juxtaposition suggests another way to think about the two cities.

Why Do Writers Use Juxtaposition?
When a writer juxtaposes two elements, they invite the reader to compare, contrast, and consider the relationship between those elements more closely. 
Usually, they do so with one of these aims in mind:

  1. To flesh out a character by contrasting their traits against another character, or a foil
  2. To explore the nuances of a trait or idea that a reader or listener might otherwise miss
  3. To draw a link between seemingly unrelated ideas or images
  4. To create absurdity or humor
  5. To argue that one idea or element is better than another

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