A statement that is self-contradictory, sometimes to the point of being absurd, but contains an element of truth nonetheless. There are also situational paradoxes, in which characters find themselves in a situation that seems impossible to reconcile (fex: a “catch-22”). In literature, paradoxes often reveal or point to a larger theme in the novel; consider the line “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” from Animal Farm.
- “I can resist anything but temptation.”
- Oscar Wilde’s famous paradox highlights how we often think we can remain strong in the face of temptation but fail when put to the test.
- “sweet sorrow”
- “open secret”
- Both of these are oxymorons, not paradoxes.
Explore all literary terms.