Juxtaposition Vs Parallelism (Key Differences & Examples)

Juxtaposition and parallelism represent two important literary devices that writers utilize to convey meaning and achieve intended impacts through language and structure choices.

What is Juxtaposition?

Juxtaposition refers to placing two contrasting concepts, characters, objects and settings side-by-side to highlight their differences. By positioning the two elements next to each other, writers emphasize key contrasts between them for rhetorical effect. Readers then notice the innate inconsistencies. Common types of juxtaposition involve contradictory ideas, opposing imagery, discordant symbols and differences in characters or time frames. Writers controls surprising combinations to emphasize ironies and provoke deeper reflection.

What is Parallelism?

Parallelism refers to constructing parts of a sentence or passages to have similar grammatical structure and length. This repetition of structure establishes a pattern, which emphasizes equivalence between elements. The technique adds emphasis, rhythm and eloquence through symmetry. Parallelism often appears through duplicates of phrase patterns, verb constructions, lengths of clauses and lists of things. Repetitive language links related concepts to enhance flow and reinforce meaning.

Common Examples of Juxtaposition

  1. War and Peace
  2. Joy and Sorrow
  3. Light and Darkness
  4. Past and Present
  5. Slow Motion and Fast Action
  6. Poverty and Wealth
  7. Younger and Elderly Characters

Common Examples of Parallelism

  1. I came, I saw, I conquered.
  2. She likes reading books, going to the library, and writing stories.
  3. He wanted to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve quality.
  4. The teacher emphasized that her students be punctual, completed all assignments, and studied hard for exams.
  5. The new model aims to be faster, better, and more affordable.
  6. She spoke about reducing, reusing and recycling as ways to help the environment.
  7. The coach told the players they needed more speed, agility and endurance to compete at the national level.
  8. The company vision statement focused on growth, leadership and pursuing excellence.
  9. The main priorities were saving time, increasing profits and improving customer satisfaction.
  10. She believed in truth, equality and promoting peace in the world.

Juxtaposition vs. Parallelism

Contrasts differences between elements placed togetherDraws equivalence between elements structured identically
Underscores ironies, inconsistencies, oppositesBuilds patterns through repetition to link related ideas
Often discordant or unexpectedCreates symmetry using similar grammatical style
Highlights comparative qualitiesReinforces meaning and eloquence through duplicates
Juxtaposition Vs Parallelism
Juxtaposition Vs Parallelism (Key Differences and Examples)
Juxtaposition Vs Parallelism (Key Differences and Examples)

Examples of Juxtaposition in Literature


“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo uses juxtaposition describing Juliet:

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night.”

This fuses contrasting imagery, positioning Juliet’s radiance against the darkness of night to heighten comparisons. Shakespeare ironically juxtaposes light/dark symbols to portray Juliet as surpassing even the torches’ brightness.

Read also: Juxtaposition VS Paradox


“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the pigs rewrite the Seven Commandments of Animalism to now read:

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Orwell’s satirical line places the value “equality” beside its opposite concept “more equal”. This impossible juxtaposition in the commandment emphasizes the hypocrisy of rulers who manipulate ideals to justify power inequalities that benefit them.


“Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson

“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil.”

The author juxtaposes the concepts of good and evil. It conveys that every human has both good and bad within them, not purely one or the other. This sets up the tension between the respectable Dr Jekyll and his evil alter ego Mr Hyde explored through the story.


“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

The opening lines of Charles Dickens’ novel juxtapose opposites. The “best of times” contrasts with “worst of times” to convey the huge gap between the rich and poor during the years before the French Revolution. This immediately sets up the tension that drives the story.

Related post: Juxtaposition Examples In Disney Movies

Examples of Parallelism from Literature


Martin Luther King Jr. uses parallelism throughout his “I Have a Dream Speech” repeating “I have a dream” and in this passage:

“Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia…”

The successive location names begin identically, structurally paralleling the phrasing to unify the concepts in the audience’s mind through a common pattern.


“Julius Caesar” by Shakespeare

In Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Antony repeats parallel “Brutus is an honorable man” lines cynically, like:

“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honorable man.”

Julius Caesar uses parallel structure to rhetorically emphasize his point. Here, the repetition of phrase “Ambition should be made of sterner stuff” followed by “Yet Brutus says he was ambitious” creates a parallel contrast. The symmetrical syntax draws attention to the contradiction Antony highlights. Moreover, the by repeating the phrase “And Brutus is an honorable man”, Antony gives of Caesar’s compassion followed by Brutus calling him ambitious creates another parallelism. The identical repetition serves to satirically undermine Brutus’ motives and trustworthiness.


“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

“It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

The opening lines of the novel use antithetical parallelism between opposites like wisdom and foolishness, belief and incredulity. This sets up the contradictions in the turbulence during the French Revolution.


“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

“Let me walk by the grey woods and silver meadows…
Let me stand in the deep valley of old hills…”

In this Dylan Thomas poem, the repetition of “Let me…” at the start of clauses creates a parallel structure. This gives a rhythmic rhetorical style to the series of last wishes of the speaker nearing death. The parallel form unifies the desires emotionally. The parallel syntax in both cases delivers elevated rhetorical rhythm to the expressions. This structure aids memorability while unifying different ideas through symmetry as they build upon each other.

Importance of Juxtaposition

It highlights contrasts and contradictions between two elements placed side-by-side to emphasize ironies or provoke deeper reflection on their differences. It positions discordant images, symbols, ideas and characters together to emphasize comparative qualities more impactfully. The unexpected combinations from juxtaposition add creativity and engage readers in a surprising way.

Importance of Parallelism

The repetition of grammatical structures creates rhetorical eloquence and rhythmic flow, which elevates writing style. It draws structural equivalences between related concepts links their meanings more memorably. Parallel construction builds emphasis, unity and patterned cadence through symmetry. The listing items in parallel highlights equivalence and effectively groups like ideas.


To conclude, both juxtaposition and parallelism offer literary techniques for comparison – either contrasting differences or underlining similarities through intentional language and structural choices. Writers leverage both to critique inconsistencies or reinforce symbolic meaning. While juxtaposition fuses discordant elements to reveal ironies, parallelism replicates patterns to orchestrate rhetorical flow towards deeper resonance. Their artful application allows commentary on society’s hypocrisies or conveyance of greater truths through eloquent linguistic symmetry.

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