Paradox v. Oxymoron


I would like to share something I came across whilst refreshing my memory about the differences between a paradox and an oxymoron. It comes from the website, “Literary Devices”[1]. It is an explanation regarding the usage of paradox and reads as follows:

“I can resist everything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde

“What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The above reading(s) may bring out the question, ‘Why is paradox used when a message can be conveyed in a straightforward and simple manner?’ The answer lies in the nature and purpose of literature.

One function 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. Thus, the chief purpose of a paradox is to give pleasure.

In poetry, the use of paradox is not confined to mere wit and pleasure; rather, it becomes an integral part of poetic diction. Poets usually make use of a paradox to create a remarkable thought or image out of words.

Some types of paradox in poetry are meant to communicate a tone of irony to its readers as well as lead their thoughts to the immediate subject. Paradox in most poems normally strives to create feelings of intrigue and interest in readers’ minds to make them think deeper and harder to enjoy the real message of the poem.”

Very well defined.

I love words. That is obvious to anyone who reads my work. In fact, one might say that I tend to ‘paint with words’ – a bit of an oxymoron, that.

As is so with most authors, I use bits and pieces of my own life experience and those of others whom I know or have observed (as well as other’s behaviors and personality quirks) and treat them to, sometimes significant amounts of, poetic license. To combine that with great, heaping helpings of the paradoxical and oxymoronic, should result in a pretty good book…at least that’s what I’m counting on!

It is my opinion that, unless a book can cause the reader to visualize, it is worthless…and that includes textbooks, by the way. How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn’t even like math until I got Mr/s So and So. S/he could actually make the subject interesting!”

My ‘stand out’ teachers and professors all had a grasp on the use of paradox, oxymorons, allusion, alliteration and even the oddest uses of onomatopiac turns of phrase!

Paradoxism and oxymoronism figure highly in the Folded Dreams books, simply because, for the subject, they seem most at home.

[1] Literary Devices: Definitions and Examples of Literary Terms. Paradox.Retrieved 20 July 2016.


4 thoughts on “Paradox v. Oxymoron

  1. Great post and whole hardheartedly agree with your point on textbooks – I think this is why The Feynman Lectures on Physics have become a definitive text for so many, me included, he paints the whole world through his words and makes sure you never question why you are studying Physics

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my WordPress friends, Anne ( just posted a link for me to one of his lectures/talks! I’ve not viewed it yet but I think if I can figure out the secret of time travel (or YOu can, then share it with me 😁), I will invite him for coffee, tea or whatever!!😄😄

      While I was in college for my accounting degree, my Business Management professor kept telling me that she would buy any book I ever wrote, but that my style of report writing would never wash.

      She asked if I was a CEO, would I rather listen to a “strictly business” presentation, or one that read like a book…you can imagine my answer!! Fortunately, as well as reading and enjoying everything I wrote (my English Composition and History professors shared all my work with her!), we were also peers in age, so she took no offense😁

      I just don’t get why learning must be a bore!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have the entire collection of all three volumes – they are also all available online for free. I will warn you they are not light – they are hard to pick through but they are very rewarding. I think learning becomes a bore because people tend to get tipped towards what they should learn rather than what they want to learn. There is a time and a place for shoulds – I should choose greens over burgers and I should choose water over coke. Likewise I should do more statistical Physics; but overall I think that you need to strive to do as much of what you want to do. Far too often do we sacrifice today for a promise of tomorrow, only to get there and find out we were fooled. We blindly repeat until we realise the time is gone and we can’t get it back

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is for precisely this reason that I’ve found it much more satisfying to be an elder learner; I get to “pick my profs”, if you will, and it goes so much more smoothly when you study as a heart’s desire, rather than as a requirement.

        In addition, when you have the video(s), you can watch and learn as often and as long as you will!

        Ah, but is this not the part of being young…being able to choose between ‘should’ and ‘what if’?

        I always told my children (and still do, if it comes down to it) that children are called children, because they are not adults. Likewise, adults up to their prime are called young adults because they are not old.

        We live, we test, we learn…and, if we’ve gained wisdom along the way to Old, then when we need less stress, we will have it. After all, by then, we will have ‘been there, done that and got the tee shirt’!

        My granny always told us that one can only BE a fool if they refuse to open their eyes. Anything that causes you to see, Joseph, will never make a fool of you. Repetition ceases once the action itself ceases to effect the desired outcome, yes?

        So you live, test, learn…and you won’t be fooled!



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