An oxymoron is a paradoxical expression or pair of words that contradicts itself. Classic of oxymorons encompass “jumbo shrimp” and also “dull roar” - brand-new descriptions formed by opposite words.

You are watching: Paradox examples in romeo and juliet

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


Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, action I-II

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

Civil Brawls

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

Three civil brawls, bred of one airy word,

By thee, old Capulet, and also Montague,

Have thrice disturb"d the quiet of our streets…

(Romeo and Juliet 1.1 91-93)

The word “civil” in the expression “civil brawls” means that the brawls space friendly. The idea the a “friendly fight” is a clean oxymoron the contradicts itself.

O Brawling Love, O love Hate

Before Romeo collection eyes top top Juliet, he was head end heels for Rosaline. Yet Rosaline’s denial has set him into a moody tailspin. Now confronted with news that the many recent Capulet-Montague brawl, Romeo laments come Benvolio:

“Yet phone call me not, for I have heard that all.

Here’s much to execute with hate, but much more with love.

Why then, O brawling love, O love hate

O any kind of thing, of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos the well-seeming forms!

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

Still-waking sleep, the is no what it is!

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

(1.1 179-187)

Oxymorons dealing with the fight – “O brawling love, O loving hate” – show Romeo’s ambivalent mindset toward the families’ animosity. He also uses oxymorons to explain how out-of-sorts he feels in his love towards Rosaline (“cold fire, noble health, still-waking sleep”).


So Loving-Jealous the His Liberty

Act II functions the famous balcony step in i beg your pardon Romeo and also Juliet express their love. Juliet speak Romeo the she desires him to go, but additionally to stay, reflected in the adhering to oxymoron:

"Tis almost morning; ns would have thee gone:

And yet no more than a wanton"s bird;

Who allows it hop a tiny from her hand,

Like a bad prisoner in his twisted gyves,

And through a silk subject plucks it back again,

So loving-jealous the his liberty.

(2.2 190-195)

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

Parting Is such Sweet Sorrow

Another commonly quoted heat from Romeo and Juliet is at the finish of plot II, step 2. But when “parting is such sweet sorrow” is taken out of context, the audience misses the oxymoron in the heat above:

“Yet I need to kill thee with lot cherishing.

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

That ns shall say great night it spins it be morrow.”

(2.2 198-200)

Juliet knows that Romeo’s life is in danger if the stays, yet mourns the believed of him leaving. “Kill thee with lot cherishing” indicates that she love will finish with his death, and also “sweet sorrow” is an oxymoron relenten a lover sadness. The principle of killing someone through love is a typical theme in Romeo and Juliet, echoed in its plenty of oxymorons.


Her Burying Grave that Is her Womb

The image of the planet being both a grave and also a womb is also a repetitive motif in the play. Here, Friar Lawrence mirrors on his garden and the cyclical nature that life:

The planet that"s nature"s mommy is she tomb;

What is her burying grave the is her womb,

And from she womb kids of divers kind

We sucking ~ above her organic bosom find,

Many for countless virtues excellent,

None but for some and yet every different.

(2.3 10-14)

Audiences may not understand that Romeo and also Juliet later end their lives in a grave. However, this oxymoron both set the tone and foreshadows their tragic end.

Oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet, action III-IV

Act II in Romeo and also Juliet ends through their marriage and the hope for a much more positive future. However, the very an initial scene sets occasions in movement that proceed through plot IV, reflected in the characters’ numerous oxymoronic phrases.

I am Fortune’s Fool

Romeo’s cry after ~ the duel that took Tybalt’s life is an additional oxymoron. He laments his rubbish of luck in marrying Juliet:

O, i am fortune"s fool!

(3.1 142)

The word “fortune” defines the universe’s allotment of delight to Romeo. Yet the really next word, “fool” shows a person who has no fortune or luck. The oxymoron establishes the figurative crossroads Romeo finds self in in ~ this moment.

Dreadful Trumpet

Much man arises after ~ the fatality of Tybalt. Desperate to listen the news native the sobbing nurse, Juliet pleads with her because that clarity:

What storm is this that blows therefore contrary?

Is Romeo slaughter"d, and also is Tybalt dead?

My dear-loved cousin, and my dearer lord?

Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!

For that is living, if those two room gone?

(3.2 70-74)

Trumpets are linked with triumph and glory. Its positive connotation contrasted with the word “dreadful” creates an oxymoron the perfectly explains the emotion of undesirable news.



Beautiful Tyrant, Fiend Angelical

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

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

Did ever dragon store so fair a cave?

Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical!

Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!

Despised problem of divinest show!

Just opposite to what she justly seem"st,

A damnèd saint, an honorable villain!

(3.2 79-86)

Juliet cannot make sense of just how her beloved husband is a hated murderer. She deems that a “beautiful tyrant” and “fiend angelical,” mix up the native in each oxymoron come reflect her own mixed-up feelings. Juliet does the same thing through “a damned saint, one honorable villain!”

Freezes increase the warm of Life

After gift promised to Paris for marriage, Juliet sees just one way out of her predicament. She convinces herself to take it the elixir that will certainly make her show up dead:

“Farewell! God knows as soon as we shall fulfill again.

I have actually a pass out cold are afraid thrills with my veins,

That nearly freezes up the warmth of life:

I"ll call them earlier again to comfort me:

Nurse! What should she execute here?

My dismal scene i needs need to act alone.

(4.3 15-20)

Placing “freezes” and “heat” in the very same sentence demonstrates how quickly fatality can take host of someone. It additionally foreshadows what is about to happen when Juliet go drink the elixir.

Oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet, act V

The untimely finish to both Romeo’s and Juliet’s lives, and the beat itself, is complete of oxymorons. Love top to death is the ultimate paradox. Right here are some instances of oxymorons transparent the critical act the Romeo and also Juliet.


Unhappy Fortune

Friar Lawrence has actually sent a letter come Romeo informing him of Juliet’s plot. However, having actually learned the the letter never obtained to Romeo, Friar Lawrence knows

Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood,

The letter was not nice however full the charge

Of too ~ import, and also the neglecting it

May do much danger.

(5.2 17-20)

“Unhappy fortune” roughly translates to “bad luck.” choose Romeo’s line “I to be fortune’s fool,” Friar Lawrence’s heat contrasts the confident connotation the “fortune” with a an adverse word. This oxymoron reflects earlier to the prologue’s recommendation to “star-crossed lovers” – a disastrous ending set up by the universe.

Poor living Corpse

The setup for the lover to meet at the tomb has gone awry. Fearing the Juliet will wake increase alone, Friar Lawrence sets off to the Capulet tomb. That declares:

But I will write again come Mantua,

And store 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 as a living person inside a dig is a paradox in itself. The term “living corse (or corpse)” is an oxymoron that defines her situation: she is dead, however she is also alive.

Myself Condemned and also Myself Excused

After Romeo and also Juliet fulfill their disastrous end, the prince wants answers. That inquires what role Friar Lawrence had in the ordeal, and the friar explains:

I am the greatest, maybe to perform least,

Yet most suspected, as the time and also place

Doth make versus me that this direful murder;

And here I stand, both to impeach and purge

Myself condemned and myself excused.

(5.3 232-236)

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


Kill your Joys with Love

The prince chastises Capulet and also Montague for their recurring feud. The parallels his great from plot I, but also shifts reference to self for not taking your fight seriously enough:

Where be this enemies? Capulet! Montague!

See, what a scourge is laid upon her hate,

That heaven finds way to kill your joys with love.

And ns for winking at her discords too

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

(5.2 301-305)

The expression “kill your joys v love” contrasts the an unfavorable verb “kills” through the optimistic nouns “joy” and also “love.” This oxymoron perfectly defines the ultimately tragedy the Romeo and also Juliet’s story: lock were eliminated by love and hate alike.

A Glooming Peace

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

A glooming peace this morning v it brings;

The sun, because that sorrow, will not show his head:

Go hence, come have an ext talk of these sad things;

Some shall it is in pardon"d, and some punished:

For never ever was a story of more woe

Than this that Juliet and her Romeo.

(5.2 316-321)

The native “peace” has actually a hopeful connotation. Pairing that with words “glooming” marks the play’s last oxymoron, together the only method these family members can end their war was through the sacrifice the their very own children.

See more: When Acting Is Not Enough: Csi: Miami Die By The Sword, Csi: Miami Die By The Sword (Tv Episode 2010)

Literary devices in Romeo and Juliet

Each of this oxymorons summarizes the conflicted nature of Romeo and also Juliet. As Juliet states in action II her “only love sprung native her only hate” proves to be the can be fried paradox the the play. To learn more about Shakespearean literature devices, check out these instances of alliteration native Romeo and also Juliet. Then, uncover the key themes the Romeo and Juliet.