Teaching Resources: Examples Of Juxtaposition In Poetry And Literature (Blog Image)

Teaching resources: Examples of juxtaposition in poetry & literature

What is juxtaposition?

Juxtaposition is a figurative language device in which contrasting elements are placed side by side to highlight their differences or create a specific emotional or thematic impact.

Why do writers use juxtaposition examples in literature?

Writers use juxtaposition as a literary device in literature to emphasize differences, stir emotions, highlight themes, foil characters, and make their stories richer. 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, such as between words or images, or on a larger scale, such as between two characters or storylines. This adds depth and complexity to the story, making it more engaging and thought-provoking for readers, and it helps readers connect with the story on a deeper level. For example, a grandmother holding a newborn baby might be a very powerful image, juxtaposing birth and old age.

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Lessons to introduce students to juxtaposition

Figurative Language Flocabulary lesson

Introduce students to examples of juxtaposition using Flocabulary’s Figurative Language video lesson. This engaging lesson uses a song-based narrative to teach literary devices, including juxtaposition. It defines major literary tools, provides practical examples, and follows Will’s journey as an emcee, making the concept relatable. With a wide array of literary devices covered, the lesson offers a well-rounded approach to teaching creative writing skills.

Teaching resources: Examples of juxtaposition in poetry, literature, and rap

1. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Robert Frost lesson cover

This lesson, based on Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” presents a contemplative narrative where the unnamed narrator’s solitude in nature contrasts with their looming responsibilities. By exploring this adaptation, students can grasp the juxtaposition poetry examples between the serene, isolated setting and the pressing duties, making it a valuable tool for teaching this literary device.

2. “Sonnet 116” by Shakespeare

“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”

In this part of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116,” juxtaposition is used to highlight the contrast between time and love. Time is described as fleeting, with “brief hours and weeks,” while love is depicted as enduring, lasting “even to the edge of doom.” This juxtaposition in poetry serves to emphasize that true love remains constant and unwavering, even as time passes, underscoring the central theme of the sonnet.

3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

“Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?
That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow!
How shall we find the concord of this discord?”

In Act V, Scene I of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare juxtaposes word pairs like “merry and tragical” and “tedious and brief” to highlight the play’s fantastical and unpredictable nature. These combinations of words create a sense of paradox and wonder, making the audience feel like they’re in a dream. The characters in the play are struggling to make sense of these contradictions, which adds to the dreamlike and complex atmosphere of the story.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 2, Scene 1 lesson cover

To explore more juxtaposition in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” watch this video lesson with students of Act 2, Scene 1. Emphasize the interactions between the mechanicals and the fairies and the love potion’s effects on the characters as it creates a significant level of contrast and comedic juxtaposition in writing.

4. “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman

This lesson, centered around Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!,” immerses students in a narrative that vividly highlights the juxtaposition between the victorious outcome of the war and the sobering loss of a beloved leader. It provides students with a powerful illustration of how the elation of victory and the heartache of losing a leader can exist side by side. Through this adaptation, students are not only introduced to the concept of juxtaposition poetry examples but also gain a profound understanding of its capacity to convey complex emotions and themes.

5. “‘Hope’ Is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson

"'Hope' Is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson lesson cover

This lesson, centered around Emily Dickinson’s poem “‘Hope’ Is the Thing with Feathers,” delves into the juxtaposition between what hope gives us and what it demands from us. It allows students to explore the stark contrast between hope as an abstract concept and its embodiment as a bird with feathers. By analyzing these literary juxtaposition examples within the adaptation, students can gain a deeper understanding of the poem’s message, appreciating how hope provides strength and comfort while also requiring resilience.

6. “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros

In this captivating lesson featuring Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven,” students explore juxtaposition as they follow the story of 11-year-old Rachel on her birthday. Through Rachel’s experiences, they discern the contrasting emotions and perceptions associated with the transition into adolescence, effectively grasping the underlying themes of youth and maturity. This narrative provides a concrete example of how juxtaposition is used to convey the complexities of growing up.

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein's Monster lesson cover

In this instructive lesson featuring Flocabulary’s rap song adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, students delve into juxtaposition in literature by examining the stark contrast between how Frankenstein’s monster feels and how people react to his appearance. As they follow the story from the monster’s point of view, they can easily identify the striking disparity between his longing for love and acceptance and the horrified responses he elicits from those around him.

8. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

This instructive lesson, which focuses on an adaptation of Chapter 3 from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, presents a stark contrast between the large Gulliver and the diminutive Lilliputians. As students engage with Gulliver’s descriptions of the Lilliputian entertainments, they can discern the humorous contrast that emerges when comparing the colossal size of Gulliver with the minuscule stature of the Lilliputians. This narrative offers a tangible example of how juxtaposition serves to underscore the comical absurdity of differing scales and perspectives.

9. Korean folktale “Heungbu and Nolbu”

Heungbu and Nolbu video lesson

This instructive lesson, which brings to life the Korean folktale “Heungbu and Nolbu,” serves as a valuable juxtaposition example in literature, specifically concerning the themes of generousness and greediness. As students delve into the story of the two brothers, Heungbu and Nolbu, they encounter a striking difference between Heungbu’s generosity and Nolbu’s greediness. This narrative vividly illustrates how juxtaposition can be employed to underscore profound differences in character and worldviews.

10. Hip-hop songs

“Yeah, I’m out that 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”

“Used to plot on the come up, plot on my brothers,

Now I get the tomatoes cropping sideways.

Stooped in the coop, gathering eggs.

Traded some to the neighbor for fresh bread.

I say I’m at peace but it’s still that same dread.”

– billy woods, “Agriculture”

Start using Flocabulary for your ELA classroom

We’re so excited to see you use these examples and lessons in your classroom! Flocabulary offers educational hip-hop videos and instructional activities that promote literacy and spark creativity. With the power of Flocabulary, you can spark engagement and understanding with relevant, rigorous educational videos your students will love.

New to Flocabulary? Teachers can sign up for a trial to access our lesson videos and assessment activities. Administrators can get in touch with us to learn more about unlocking the full power of Flocabulary through Flocabulary Plus.