Difference Between Paradox and Juxtaposition

Main Difference – Paradox vs Juxtaposition

Paradox and juxtaposition are two figures of speech that involve two contradictory elements. Juxtaposing is a literary device in which two opposing elements are placed side by side in order to highlight their similarities and differences. Paradox is a phrase or sentence where two contrasting ideas are used in order to reveal a hidden truth. Juxtaposition is a broad term and paradox can be viewed as a type of juxtaposition. This is the main difference between paradox and juxtaposition.

This article looks at,

1. What is a Paradox? – Definition, Meaning, Function and Examples

2. What is Juxtaposition? – Definition, Meaning, Function and Examples

3. Difference Between Paradox and Juxtaposition

Difference Between Paradox and Juxtaposition- Paradox vs Juxtaposition Comparison Summary

What is a Paradox

Paradox is a figure of speech where some outwardly contrasting ideas are juxtaposed with the aim of revealing a hidden or unexpected truth. At first, a paradox may seem like a self-contradictory, silly statement, but if you analyze this statement in depth, you’ll realize the truth in that statement. The following sentences are simple examples of paradoxes.

Less is more

Your enemy’s enemy is your friend.

Be cruel to be kind

Writers use paradoxes to make their readers think about something in a new and innovative way. Paradoxes are also used to present an idea that is contrary to accepted, traditional concepts. In short, paradoxes add another layer to the meaning of a text.

In literature, paradoxes can be categorized into two types known as situational or rhetoric. A situational paradox is a situation or circumstance that is contradictory whereas a rhetorical paradox is a seemingly contrasting comment made by a character.

Examples of Rhetoric Paradox:

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” – Animal Farm by George Orwell

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.” – The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Examples of Situational Paradox:

“There was only one catch, and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.” – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Difference Between Paradox and Juxtaposition

What is a Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a literary device where two contrasting elements are placed side by side in order to highlight their differences and similarities. Given below are some famous examples of juxtaposition.

All’s fair in love and war.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

In literature, writers use juxtaposition to develop comparisons between two contrasting elements to surprise the readers and evoke interest. Juxtaposition creates vivid imagery and helps the reader to see a rational connection between two unlike concepts or elements.

Examples of Juxtaposition in Literature:

 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” – A Tale of Two Cities by  Charles Dickens

 “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Main Difference - Paradox vs Juxtaposition

Difference Between Paradox and Juxtaposition


Paradox is a phrase or sentence where two contrasting ideas are used in order to reveal a hidden truth.

Juxtaposition is a literary device where two contrasting elements are placed side by side in order to highlight their differences and similarities


Paradox reveals a hidden or unexpected truth.

Juxtaposition compares and contrasts two things.


Paradox is a type of a juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a broad term.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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