To contrast something means to show or express the opposite. Writers use contrast to show the differences between two or more different things.
When writing to contrast, writers use words like the following: however, instead, in contrast, on the contrary, but, on the other hand, yet, unlike
Writers can also organize a contrast in different ways. Sometimes, the writer thoroughly describes the first subject and then describes the second, pointing out the differences. This is a "subject-by-subject" contrast. Sometimes, though, the writer describes attributes of the subjects, pointing out the differences in a "point-by-point" manner.
1. An article that describes the differences between the platforms of two different political candidates.
2. A speech that provides information on two different courses of action that a company could take, with pros and cons of the two courses.
Examples of Contrast from Literature:
In his Sonnet 130, Shakespeare contrasts his mistress' appearance with the conventional description of beauty in his time, to show that he loves her in spite of the fact that she doesn't live up to the conventional definition of beauty:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
In the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens contrasts the differences between England and France, or London and Paris:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of folloshness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever."
The entire play Romeo and Juliet shows a stark contrast between love and hate. Romeo and Juliet's families are sworn enemies, but the two young people fall in love. The divide between their families leads to their untimely deaths, but then the strife between the two families is "buried":
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
Literary Terms Examples