The Art of Juxtaposition

Some of you may not be familiar with the word “juxtaposition”. It’s not really the type of word that you hear everyday, is it? A kindergartener probably never heard of it, but they use it. Juxtaposition is the placement of two things together to create a contrasting effect and an overall theme. You probably remember this word from English class when you worked on poetry. Yes, no, maybe so? Anyways, juxtaposition can be used in literature to contrast and compare a character’s appearance or even personality. Recently, I’ve been introduced to the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. For those you haven’t, here is a glimpse into the book AKA the first paragraph:

There are many ways to start a novel. You could start it off by using dialogue between two characters for instance. You could also introduce the main characters in your story. You can start with a climatic event. You could set the mood or setting of the story.

Notice anything that caught your attention? Maybe all the contradicting nouns and adjectives? Best and worst. Wisdom and foolishness. Light and Darkness. In a nutshell, there’s just a lot of juxtaposition in this introduction.

Why did Dickens use so much juxtaposition, I wondered. I remember, in class, coming to the conclusion that the reason to why was to contrast and compare the struggles that led up to the French Revolution. But let’s be honest, it captured our attention. This is one of the reasons why this opening is so famous, at least back in the days.

Believe it or not, juxtaposition isn’t just something you go over in English class. It’s all around you. Recently, I’ve noticed juxtaposition in advertisements. Usually you see the bandwagon technique in an ad. Or maybe the celebrity endorsement technique. But using juxtaposition in advertisements? Yes, you heard me right! Or well in this case, you read me right. Here are some advertisements that I’ve seen:

Kind of weird, don’t you think? Especially the last one. Looking at the child’s face reminds me of young children who color and draw. A big circle and a small circle. Scribbles in the middle of the paper and blankness for the rest. Red and blue lines randomly clashing. Paint everywhere. And so this got me thinking. Juxtaposition had a bigger role than I thought it did, other than taking up time in class. I’ve always been interested in photography, however, I’ve only been able to take pictures on my iPhone. I don’t have a fancy camera nor do I have experience in photography, but I enjoy taking photos for fun. As I was strolling through my photo album, I noticed that many of the photos that I’ve taken display juxtaposition in some sort of matter.

Processed with Rookie Cam

Processed with Rookie Cam

Processed with Rookie Cam

In order to create juxtaposition, I’ve concluded, the photo must contain two main concepts that will attract the viewer’s eyes. The viewer will then be able to compare and contrast the two components.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.25.05 PM

Now that you know what to do, go outside and try to take pictures that display juxtaposition in them. Have fun taking pictures! Be sure to share your photos!

2 thoughts on “The Art of Juxtaposition

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