What Is Juxtaposition in Literary Terms?

Juxtaposition is a literary device in which two or more ideas, places, or characters are placed parallel to each other in a narrative or poem for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts. This device is often used to lend rhetorical effect or detail a character.

Juxtaposition is commonly used in literature to add depth and detail to the portrayal of characters within the piece. Use of juxtaposition allows simple comprehension of character detail through comparison to familiar concepts and objects. In many cases, juxtaposition is essential to the progression of action in addition to character development. Imagery is also further enhanced through the use of juxtaposition. Through the use of literary devices, authors are often able to evoke emotions as well as promote interest within their audience. The comparisons that are provided by the use of juxtaposition provides a logical connection within the human brain that creates a higher level of comprehension.

One example of juxtaposition is in John Milton's "Paradise Lost". This literary piece juxtaposes two characters, God and Satan, in order to highlight their contrasting qualities. As a result, the reader reaches the conclusion that Satan deserved his expulsion from paradise due to his unwillingness to submit to God's will.