A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself, or that must be both true and untrue at the same time. Paradoxes are twists in logic that show how our thinking sometimes goes haywire, even when we use perfectly logical reasoning to get there. A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself and still seems true somehow.

The term paradox is from the Greek word paradoxon, which means “contrary to expectations, prevailing belief, or perceived opinion.” It is a statement that appears to be contradictory or silly, but which may include a concealed truth.

But a key part of paradoxes is that they at least sound reasonable. They’re not obvious nonsense, and it’s only upon consideration that we realize their self-defeating logic.

For example:
This statement is a lie.

This is the most famous of all logical paradoxes, because it’s so simple. These five simple words are self-contradictory: if the statement is true, then it’s a lie, which means it’s not true. But if it’s not true, then it’s a lie, which makes it true. 

Examples of Paradox

  1. Your enemy’s friend is your enemy.
  2. Deep down, you're really shallow.
  3. I am nobody.
  4. I know one thing; that I know nothing.
  5. “What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw
  6. Wise fool
  7. This is the beginning of the end.
  8. I'm a compulsive liar.
  9. “Men work together whether they work together or apart.” - Robert Frost
  10. Truth is honey, which is bitter.
  11. “I can resist anything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde
  12. You can save money by spending it.

One of the main functions of literature is to make the readers enjoy reading. Readers enjoy more when they extract the hidden meanings out of the writing rather than something presented to them in an uncomplicated manner. Therefore, the main purpose of a paradox is to give pleasure. In poetry, the use of paradox is not limited to mere wit and pleasure; rather, it becomes an essential part of poetic diction. Poets usually make use of paradox to create a extraordinary thought or image out of words.

The purpose of a paradox is to capture attention and incite fresh thought. The statement "Less is more" is an example. 

In literary analysis, “paradox” can sometimes have a slacker meaning: a person or circumstance that contains contradictions. For example, a character that is both charming and rude might be referred to as a “paradox”. 

Logical paradoxes have been used for centuries to demonstrate the unreliability of human logic. Philosophers and mystics often use paradoxes to prove that human beings have to approach their world using intuition as well as logic. The world around us is full of paradoxes/contradictions, especially when it comes to people’s behaviour and personality.

Therefore, when a character combines dissimilar elements, it seems very natural and three-dimensional. Most people are paradoxes in one way or another, so the main character that wasn’t somehow paradoxical could seem pretentious or dull! Such paradoxes can also lend mystery to a story, which helps to make it more convincing.