10+ Baffling Paradox Examples That’ll Make You Really feel Smarter

In search of some good paradox examples to boost your writing?

Unsure what paradox actually means?

If that’s the case, you’re in the proper place.

Typically it’s simpler to grasp a literary aspect when you possibly can see it in motion.

That’s why we’ve put collectively this checklist of well-known paradox examples from literature, movies, music, and extra.

Whenever you’ve completed studying this publish, you’ll be capable of outline paradox and know use it in a approach that makes your writing sizzle.

Let’s get began.

What’s Paradox?

A paradox is an announcement with contridictory concepts. However this contradiction can manifest in a couple of methods.

For instance, a paradoxical assertion could seem to observe sound reasoning however, upon additional reflection, is nonsensical. Conversely, an announcement might sound contradictory however, upon additional reflection, it reveals a deeper fact. After which some paradoxes simply defy all logic and reasoning.

Enjoyable Reality: Paradox comes kind the Historic Greek phrases pará ( “in opposition to” or “opposite to”) and doxa (that means “opinion” or “to assume”).

Logical vs Literary Paradox

By the strictest of definitions, there are two sorts of paradox.

First, there’s the logical paradox.

Take the “Liar Paradox” for instance.

“This assertion is fake.”

If that sentence is true, and the assertion is fake, then the sentence is true. Even because it’s false.

Make sense?

That’s a logical paradox. There isn’t any decision. It simply goes spherical and spherical.

Then you’ve gotten the literary paradox.

When used as a literary machine, paradox is extra versatile. Writers use paradoxes to make a personality or story extra dynamic.

Let’s take a look at Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock, as imagined within the hit BBC drama, is commonly conceited, egocentric, disagreeable, and impolite.

However he additionally reveals kindness, empathy, and a want to assist individuals.

The distinction makes a riveting character.

Logically, it’s not a contradiction for an individual to have a mixture of good traits and dangerous. That’s simply being human.

So Sherlock Holmes will not be a logical paradox, however this seeming contradiction in character qualities supplies a literary paradox.

Let’s take a look at extra examples that can assist you wrap your head across the paradox.

13 Extra Puzzling Examples of Paradox For You to Digest

paradox examples puzzled woman in front of blackboard

Examples of Paradox in Literature

1. Hamlet

Hamlet says:

“I have to be merciless to be sort.”

He’s foreshadowing his plans to avenge his father’s homicide by killing his father’s assassin Claudius, who’s each Hamlet’s uncle and stepfather.

Hamlet is aware of this may harm his mom, now married to Claudius. She’s going to lose a second husband.

In Hamlet’s thoughts, nevertheless, it’s kinder to kill Claudius and avenge his father’s loss of life, slightly than let his mom stay married to the person who murdered her husband.

2. Animal Farm

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

“All animals are created equal, however some are extra equal than others.”

Orwell makes use of paradox to make a political assertion about Stalinism and the Soviet Union.

3. Catch-22

In Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, an American bomber pilot named Yossarian desires to get out of bombing missions by claiming he’s loopy.

The army won’t let somebody medically recognized as insane fly planes.

The “catch” is that solely a sane man would acknowledge the hazards of being a fighter pilot.

As a result of Yossarian can see and analyze the danger, he have to be sane. So the army requires him to proceed his missions.

Examples of Paradox in Films

paradox example delorean back to the future car

4. The Terminator

The Terminator is an instance of the grandfather paradox.

John sends Kyle to the previous to save lots of Sarah from dying. Whereas prior to now, Kyle and Sarah have a relationship. Sarah turns into pregnant with John and Kyle is the daddy.

Then, whereas nonetheless prior to now, Kyle dies.

If Kyle died prior to now, how was he despatched again to the previous from the longer term to save lots of Sarah and turn into John’s father?

5. Again to the Future

Again to the Future is one other well-known instance of the grandfather paradox.

Marty McFly goes again to the Fifties and his actions there change his guardian’s relationship.

If his mother and father don’t get collectively, then Marty is rarely born.

So how did he journey to the previous to alter the connection, stopping his start, if he by no means existed?

6. Scarface

A much less mind-bending instance of a paradox is from the film Scarface.

“Me, I at all times inform the reality. Even after I lie.”

Tony’s greed and ambition might lead him to do a number of issues, however he doesn’t disguise the lengths he’ll go to get what he desires. You at all times know who Tony is and what he’s prepared to do.

However others who had been equally grasping and bold disguise behind the veneer of politeness. You assume you’re protected with them. However are you?

At the least with Tony, you realize you might want to watch your again.

Different Well-known Examples of Paradox

paradox examples franklin theodore roosevelt

7. Oscar Wilde

“Life is way too vital to be taken critically.”

Wilde needed to remind individuals it’s vital for them to get pleasure from their lives. Individuals ought to keep away from taking themselves too critically.

8. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inauguration

“The one factor we’ve to concern is concern itself.”

FDR needed listeners to grasp that the extra afraid you’re of one thing, the extra energy it has over you. Don’t let concern hold you from taking motion.

9. The Eagles Resort California

“You may try any time, however you possibly can by no means depart.”

How will you try of a lodge however by no means depart?

Don Henley later defined that the assertion has a deeper that means“concerning the darkish underbelly of the American dream and about extra in America.”

Even if you happen to depart Hollywood and your goals of glamour and fame behind, the seediness of the trade stays with you.

Extra Examples of Paradox

paradox examples philosopher

10. Zeno’s Paradox

Zeno’s Paradox is the concept one can by no means really attain their vacation spot or aim.

Aristotle mentioned:

“That which is in locomotion should arrive on the half-way stage earlier than it arrives on the aim.”

Okay, that is smart. You get midway finished earlier than you end.

However then you consider it.

In case you are strolling in the direction of a wall 10 toes away, you will need to first go 5 toes.

Then you’ve gotten 5 toes left.

However earlier than you possibly can cowl these 5 toes, you must stroll 2.5 toes.

Then you might want to stroll 1.25 toes.

Then you might want to stroll 0.625 toes.

And so forth.

Regardless that the distances get smaller, there’s at all times one other level between you and your last vacation spot.

Right this moment this isn’t thought-about a logical paradox. You understand it’s bodily potential to get from level A to level B by strolling 10 toes.

However for historical philosophers, this thought experiment was a degree of debate.

11. Russell’s Paradox

Russell’s Paradox is usually referred to as the Barber’s Paradox.

If a barber is “one who shaves all these and people solely who don’t shave themselves,” does the barber shave himself?

The barber can not shave himself if he solely shaves those that don’t shave themselves. If he shaves himself, he’s now not the barber.

But when he doesn’t shave himself, then he suits into the goal market of shoppers he would shave, so he can shave himself.

12. Bootstrap Paradox

paradox examples albert einstein

Right here’s an instance from Astronomy Trek that explains the bootstrap paradox.

A time traveler goes again in time and teaches the speculation of relativity to Einstein.

Einstein claims it as his work.

Through the years the work is revealed a number of occasions and the unique time traveler finally ends up with a duplicate.

He goes to Einstein in awe and desires to understand how Einstein made this wonderful discovery.

Einstein discovered of it from the time traveler, however the time traveler discovered it from Einstein. Who, then, is the unique creator of the speculation?

13. Predestination Paradox

You someway be taught that you just’re going to die in a practice crash. So that you resolve that you just’ll by no means experience a practice.

However years later you’re driving over railroad tracks and your automotive will get caught on the tracks. A practice crashes into you and also you die upon affect.

Due to a practice crash.

Your makes an attempt to alter your predestined future failed.

Why Use Paradox in Your Writing?

paradox examples confused writer

There are 4 highly effective causes to make use of paradoxes in your writing.

  1. So as to add battle that wants decision, conserving your readers in suspense.
  2. So as to add a contact of humor to a tense or tough scenario.
  3. To problem your readers to assume in another way a few common idea or perception.
  4. To level out the inconsistencies of human nature.

Associated Phrases

Now let’s go over another literary phrases usually confused with paradox.


Whereas a paradox is a contradictory assertion or sentence, an oxymoron is the juxtaposition of two contradictory phrases.

Jumbo shrimp.

Dwelling useless.

Solely alternative.

These are all examples of oxymorons. Two phrases that go collectively however are contradictory.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A self-fulfilling prophecy is an expectation we’ve that influences our conduct, making the expectation come true.

You could consider that you’re dangerous at math due to one thing your third-grade instructor mentioned.

So that you by no means tried to review math. You’ve determined it’s not definitely worth the bother. You’re going to fail it doesn’t matter what you do since you are dangerous at math.

Since you don’t examine, you fail your math exams.

You believed you’d fail, and you probably did. That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.


paradox examples dilemma

A dilemma is a tough alternative the place there isn’t a good reply.

A heart-wrenching instance of a dilemma is within the novel Sophie’s Alternative.

Interred at Auschwitz throughout WWII along with her two youngsters, her Nazi captors pressured the Jewish mom to decide on between her youngsters. She needed to decide one baby to dwell and one baby to die.


Irony is when occasions occur that aren’t the anticipated outcome.

Should you fill your portfolio with writing samples which have grammatical errors, that might be an instance of irony.

Whereas all writers make errors, a author who desires to draw purchasers ought to showcase their greatest work.


Juxtaposition is when two or extra contrasting parts are paired collectively.

One of many clearest examples of juxtaposition is present in Charles Dickens’ A Story of Two Cities:

“It was the most effective of occasions, it was the worst of occasions, it was the age of knowledge, it was the age of foolishness…”

The distinction of greatest and worst, knowledge and foolishness set the tone for Dickens’ story.


Antithesis is whenever you put two equally structured sentences collectively and every has totally different concepts.

When Neil Armstrong mentioned “That’s one small step for a person, one large leap for mankind,” that’s an instance of antithesis. A small step and a large leap are reverse actions.

Remaining Ideas on Paradox Examples

Now you’ve gotten a greater understanding of what paradox is and use it.

Prepared so as to add it to your checklist of writing expertise?


Whether or not you’re writing witty social media posts or an award-winning contest entry, the paradox is an excellent device for composing highly effective work.

Let’s see what you are able to do!

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