A foil is a character who has qualities that are opposite or contrasting to another character in a creative piece. Foils are used to highlight the uniquely different characteristics in one another. If foils sound like juxtaposition, it is because they are a specific type of juxtaposition. Just as squares may be considered rectangles but rectangles may not be considered squares, all foils are juxtapositions, but not all juxtapositions are foils. A juxtaposition may be between characters in the form of a foil, but it may also be between places, things, or ideas. Here are a few examples of foils versus juxtapositions:
Additionally, there’s his famously ambiguous “death drive,” the idea that we’re all constantly struggling with an inner tendency toward destruction of some sort. While philosophers castigate him for being so unclear on this, I find the open-endedness of it to be a tonic, and an incentive to form your own understanding of the realization we’re all going to die one day, and that some part of everyone is already on board with that plan. It’s vague, but that vagueness means you can make of it what you will—and really, just about every great writer, filmmaker, or musician I’ve ever loved seems to be essentially offering up their own theory of a death drive: What does it mean to be in the world knowing you’re hurtling toward inevitable destruction? Given that none of us can really be our “real self” (something that’s especially comforting given the misguided American obsession with authenticity and being true to yourself), this is a hopeful way to acknowledge the perpetual see-saw of dissatisfaction that is life. Or at least it is for me.