The UVic Writer's Guide


Paradox


Like the oxymoron, a paradox is a seemingly ridiculous or contradictory statement which is actually meaningful and describes a truth. Paradox is frequently used in literature, and was an especially important element in the metaphysical conceit; it is common in the language of both love and religious poetry.

John Donne combines both in these lines at the end of Holy Sonnet 140 (the work "enthrall" is used here in the sense "surround" or "imprison"):

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995