An oxymoron is a paradoxical phrase or pair that words that contradicts itself. Classic the oxymorons include “jumbo shrimp” and also “dull roar” - brand-new descriptions developed by opposite words.

You are watching: Oxymoron example in romeo and juliet

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has several oxymorons that both elevate the play’s language and also foreshadow its disastrous ending. Keep analysis for of these oxymorons native Shakespeare’s best-known work, and also their literature purpose.


Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, acts I-II

The prologue the Romeo and also Juliet advises the audience of one unhappy ending to its story of “star-crossed lovers.” throughout Acts I and II, oxymorons remind us of the prologue’s message: this opposing pressures will not finish peacefully. Lock reflect the characters’ ambivalent attitudes, take it loyalties, and misaligned goals.

Civil Brawls

One the the most famous oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet comes from the Prince’s admonition to the Montegues and also Capulets ~ above the streets of Verona. He warns them around further struggle disturbing the city’s peace:

Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,

By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,

Have thrice disturb"d the quiet of our streets…

(Romeo and Juliet 1.1 91-93)

The native “civil” in the expression “civil brawls” implies that the brawls space friendly. The idea that a “friendly fight” is a clear oxymoron that contradicts itself.

O Brawling Love, O loving Hate

Before Romeo collection eyes on Juliet, he was head end heels for Rosaline. Yet Rosaline’s rejection has collection him into a moody tailspin. Now faced with news the the most recent Capulet-Montague brawl, Romeo laments to Benvolio:

“Yet phone call me not, because that I have actually heard the all.

Here’s much to perform with hate, but an ext with love.

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate

O any type of thing, that nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!

Feather that lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,

Still-waking sleep, that is no what that is!

This love feeling I, that feel no love in this.”

(1.1 179-187)

Oxymorons taking care of the struggle – “O brawling love, O love hate” – show Romeo’s ambivalent mindset toward the families’ animosity. He additionally uses oxymorons to define how out-of-sorts that feels in his love toward Rosaline (“cold fire, noble health, still-waking sleep”).


So Loving-Jealous that His Liberty

Act II features the well known balcony step in which Romeo and also Juliet express their love. Juliet speak Romeo the she desires him to go, but likewise to stay, reflect in the following oxymoron:

"Tis nearly morning; ns would have thee gone:

And however no more than a wanton"s bird;

Who lets it hop a tiny from she hand,

Like a bad prisoner in his twisted gyves,

And with a silk thread plucks it ago again,

So loving-jealous that his liberty.

(2.2 190-195)

Placing “loving” and “jealous” beside each various other in this way underscores Juliet’s interior conflict. Had she to be able to let Romeo go, she might have avoided her tragic fate – however alas, the various other side that the oxymoronic expression kept lock together.

Parting Is together Sweet Sorrow

Another frequently quoted line from Romeo and also Juliet is in ~ the end of plot II, step 2. But when “parting is together sweet sorrow” is taken the end of context, the audience misses the oxymoron in the line above:

“Yet I have to kill thee with much cherishing.

Good night, great night! parting is together sweet sorrow,

That i shall say good night till it be morrow.”

(2.2 198-200)

Juliet knows the Romeo’s life is in hazard if he stays, but mourns the believed of the leaving. “Kill thee with much cherishing” suggests that her love will end with his death, and also “sweet sorrow” is an oxymoron explicate a lover sadness. The concept of killing someone through love is a typical theme in Romeo and Juliet, echoed in its numerous oxymorons.


Her Burying Grave that Is she Womb

The picture of the earth being both a grave and a womb is also a recurring motif in the play. Here, Friar Lawrence reflects on his garden and the cyclical nature the life:

The earth that"s nature"s mother is her tomb;

What is her burying grave the is she womb,

And from her womb children of divers kind

We sucking ~ above her organic bosom find,

Many for plenty of virtues excellent,

None however for some and yet every different.

(2.3 10-14)

Audiences might not understand that Romeo and Juliet later finish their resides in a grave. However, this oxymoron both to adjust the tone and foreshadows your tragic end.

Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, plot III-IV

Act II in Romeo and Juliet ends with their marriage and also the hope because that a an ext positive future. However, the very first scene sets occasions in activity that proceed through action IV, reflected in the characters’ countless oxymoronic phrases.

I am Fortune’s Fool

Romeo’s cry ~ the duel the took Tybalt’s life is one more oxymoron. That laments his rubbish of happy in marrying Juliet:

O, i am fortune"s fool!

(3.1 142)

The indigenous “fortune” explains the universe’s allotment of pleasure to Romeo. However the very next word, “fool” indicates a human being who has no luck or luck. The oxymoron creates the figurative crossroads Romeo finds himself in at this moment.

Dreadful Trumpet

Much confusion arises after ~ the death of Tybalt. Desperate to hear the news native the sobbing nurse, Juliet pleads through her because that clarity:

What storm is this the blows so contrary?

Is Romeo slaughter"d, and is Tybalt dead?

My dear-loved cousin, and my dearer lord?

Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!

For who is living, if those two space gone?

(3.2 70-74)

Trumpets are linked with triumph and glory. Its confident connotation contrasted with words “dreadful” creates an oxymoron that perfectly defines the emotion of unwanted news.



Beautiful Tyrant, Fiend Angelical

Juliet then learns the Tybalt is dead and also Romeo is his killer. She flood of conflict emotions come out as a series of oxymorons:

O serpent heart, hid through a flow"ring face!

Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?

Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical!

Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!

Despised problem of divinest show!

Just opposite come what thou justly seem"st,

A damnèd saint, one honorable villain!

(3.2 79-86)

Juliet can not make sense of exactly how her lovely husband is a hated murderer. She deems the a “beautiful tyrant” and “fiend angelical,” mixing up the indigenous in each oxymoron come reflect her very own mixed-up feelings. Juliet does the very same thing v “a damned saint, an honorable villain!”

Freezes up the warm of Life

After being promised to Paris because that marriage, Juliet sees only one method out of she predicament. She convinces herself to take it the elixir that will make her appear dead:

“Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again.

I have a faint cold fear thrills v my veins,

That nearly freezes up the warm of life:

I"ll contact them back again to lull me:

Nurse! What should she execute here?

My dismal scene ns needs need to act alone.

(4.3 15-20)

Placing “freezes” and “heat” in the same sentence demonstrates exactly how quickly fatality can take organize of someone. It additionally foreshadows what is around to occur when Juliet walk drink the elixir.

Oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet, act V

The untimely finish to both Romeo’s and Juliet’s lives, and the play itself, is full of oxymorons. Love top to fatality is the can be fried paradox. Here are some instances of oxymorons transparent the critical act the Romeo and also Juliet.


Unhappy Fortune

Friar Lawrence has actually sent a letter to Romeo informing that of Juliet’s plot. However, having learned the the letter never got to Romeo, Friar Lawrence to know

Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood,

The letter was no nice but full the charge

Of too ~ import, and the neglecting it

May do much danger.

(5.2 17-20)

“Unhappy fortune” approximately translates come “bad luck.” like Romeo’s heat “I am fortune’s fool,” Friar Lawrence’s line contrasts the optimistic connotation the “fortune” through a an unfavorable word. This oxymoron reflects back to the prologue’s referral to “star-crossed lovers” – a catastrophic ending collection up by the universe.

Poor life Corpse

The setup for the lovers to fulfill at the tomb has actually gone awry. Fearing that Juliet will wake increase alone, Friar Lawrence sets turn off to the Capulet tomb. He declares:

But I will write again to Mantua,

And save her at my cabinet till Romeo come;

Poor life corse, close up door in a dead man"s tomb!

(5.2 (27-30)

Juliet’s state together a living human inside a tomb is a paradox in itself. The ax “living corse (or corpse)” is one oxymoron that describes her situation: she is dead, however she is additionally alive.

Myself Condemned and Myself Excused

After Romeo and Juliet satisfy their tragic end, the prince wants answers. The inquires what role Friar Lawrence had actually in the ordeal, and the friar explains:

I am the greatest, maybe to do least,

Yet many suspected, as the time and also place

Doth make versus me of this direful murder;

And here I stand, both to impeach and purge

Myself condemned and myself excused.

(5.3 232-236)

Friar Lawrence admits that he knows the most yet was least able come help. His oxymoronic phrase “myself condemned and also myself excused” shows that he is both guilty and also innocent that Romeo’s and also Juliet’s deaths.


Kill her Joys through Love

The prince chastises Capulet and Montague because that their continuous feud. It parallels his great from act I, but additionally shifts reprimand to self for not taking their fight serious enough:

Where be this enemies? Capulet! Montague!

See, what a scourge is to adjust upon your hate,

That heaven finds way to kill her joys v love.

And i for winking at her discords too

Have shed a brace of kinsmen: all room punish"d.

(5.2 301-305)

The expression “kill her joys through love” contrasts the an adverse verb “kills” through the confident nouns “joy” and also “love.” This oxymoron perfectly describes the at some point tragedy that Romeo and Juliet’s story: lock were eliminated by love and hate alike.

A Glooming Peace

The prince’s final words come after ~ Capulet and Montegue have ended their feud. The acknowledges their commitment with a grim conclusion:

A glooming peace this morning v it brings;

The sun, for sorrow, will not present his head:

Go hence, come have much more talk of this sad things;

Some shall be pardon"d, and some punished:

For never ever was a story of much more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

(5.2 316-321)

The word “peace” has a confident connotation. Pairing it with the word “glooming” point out the play’s final oxymoron, together the only means these family members can end their battle was v the sacrifice the their very own children.

See more: 26 Sounds That Chickens Make And What Kind Of Noise Does A Chicken Make S?

Literary devices in Romeo and Juliet

Each of this oxymorons summarizes the conflicted nature of Romeo and Juliet. Together Juliet says in plot II her “only love sprung indigenous her just hate” proves to it is in the can be fried paradox of the play. Come learn an ext about Shakespearean literature devices, check out these of alliteration from Romeo and Juliet. Then, uncover the main themes of Romeo and Juliet.