Contrast (literary)

Contrast (literary)

In literature, an author writes contrast when he or she describes the difference(s) between two or more entities. For example, in the first four lines of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, Shakespeare contrasts a mistress to the sun, coral, snow, and wire.

Contrast is the antonym of simile. In poetic compositions, it is common for poets to set out an elaborate contrast or elaborate simile as the argument. For example, John Donne and the metaphysical poets developed the "conceit" as a literary device, where an elaborate, implausible, and surprising analogy was demonstrated. In Renaissance poetry, and particularly in sonnets, the contrast was similarly used as a poetic argument. In such verse, the entire poem argues that two seemingly alike or identical items are, in fact, quite separate and paradoxically different. These may take the form of 'my love is unlike all other women' or 'I am unlike her other loves.'

In the early 18th century, a theory of wit developed by English writers (particularly John Locke) held that judgment sees the differences in like things, imagination or fancy sees the likeness in different things, and wit operates properly by employing judgment and fancy to form sound propositions. In lyric poetry, the author is often attempting to show how what seems to be solely an exercise of judgment or fancy is, in fact, wit.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Contrast — may refer to: Contrast (vision), the difference in color and light between parts of an image Contrast (linguistics), expressing distinctions between words Contrast (statistics), a combination of averages whose coefficients add up to zero, or the… …   Wikipedia

  • Contrast (linguistics) — In semantics, contrast is a relationship between two discourse segments. Contrast is often overtly marked by markers such as but or however, such as in the following examples: It s raining, but I am not taking an umbrella. We will be giving a… …   Wikipedia

  • Literary technique — A literary technique (also, literary device, procedure or method) is any element or the entirety of elements a writer intentionally uses in the structure of their work.[1] It can be for example an identifiable rule of thumb, a convention, a… …   Wikipedia

  • literary theory —    Literary theory since the 1960s has sustained far more change than in the previous thirty years. After several decades of dominance by the New Critics and the close textual, practical readings recommended by the likes of F.R.Leavis, the 1960s… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • Literary magazine — A literary magazine is a periodical devoted to literature in a broad sense. Literary magazines usually publish short stories, poetry and essays along with literary criticism, book reviews, biographical profiles of authors, interviews and letters …   Wikipedia

  • contrast — I. verb Etymology: French contraster, from Middle French, to oppose, resist, alteration of contrester, from Vulgar Latin *contrastare, from Latin contra + stare to stand more at stand Date: 1646 transitive verb to set off in contrast ; compare or …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Literary influence of Hamlet — See also William Shakespeare s Hamlet is a tragedy, believed written between 1599 and 1601. It tells the story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark who takes revenge on the current king (Hamlet s uncle) for killing the previous king (Hamlet s father) and …   Wikipedia

  • Scandinavian literary journals —    Literary and more general journals have been important in all of the Scandinavian countries, starting with Olof von Dalin s Then Swanska Argus (1732 1734; The Swedish Argus), which was in the style of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele s The… …   Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater

  • Archetypal literary criticism — is a type of critical theory that interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes (from the Greek archē , or beginning, and typos , or imprint) in the narrative, symbols, images, and character types in a literary work. As a form… …   Wikipedia

  • Cornell literary societies — The west front of Andrew Dickson White Hall which housed Society Hall, the main meeting room for Cornell University s literary societies in the 19th century. Society Hall was on the ground floor, three windows to the left of the main door.… …   Wikipedia