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The Most Peculiar Paradox


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A paradox is a type of figurative language (language that means something other than what it actually says) where two contradictory works are placed side by side.  Generally, they don't make much sense on initial reading, but considered further and in context, actually have some logic to them:

Cruel Kindness:  Think "tough love"...it means sometimes you have to be strict and firm out of love.

Bittersweet: means that something has a positive and negative side to it. A bittersweet victory could be when you won only by luck or only because the other competitors performed badly.

In Canada there was a political part with the paradoxical name "Progressive Conservative".  This meant that they would move forward (progress) while keeping the best of society in tact (conserve).

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Hey Sarah

It's nice to see that you are also interested in "Figurative Language".

I would like to add some more examples for the rhetoric figure: "paradox".

"You can save money by spending it."

"A wise fool"

"I can resist anything but temptation." by Oscar Wilde

"I must be cruel to be kind."  (Hamlet, Shakespeare)

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Yes, paradoxes can be quite amazing and sometimes profound.  Here are a few:

"The beginning of the end."

It is descriptive and makes sense to us -- as an ending can be long and dragged out -- but yet it is also a contradiction.

"I know that I know nothing."

Likewise, we understand what it means beyond its surface contradiction.

There is the famous paradox from George Orwell's "Animal Farm"  that I've always liked:

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." 

I think it beautifully captures the socioeconomic tensions and strife of a society. 

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Hi everyone.

Thanks for your additions and examples.  I especially like the Animal Farm one - definitely one of my favorites too!

Here are some others:

A line in a song I like says "even the distance feels so near" The next line explains and makes sense of the contradiction "all for the love of you." Its the love of the other person that makes distance seem like it's close. A good inversion of how people say distance feels further from someone you love.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette is full of Paradoxes and its cousin, the oxymoron.

"Fiend Angelical"

"Beautiful Tyrant" (it likely would be considered one when it was written)

"The silence was deafening" refers to a very noticeable quietness, usually of tension or expectation.

Any others to add.

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Yup. That definitely qualifies and is an excellent example!

Love and hate are often used in a paradoxical manner, similar to that expression.  They are similar in how they make people act,  so make excellent paradoxes.

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