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

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William Shakespeare’s Romeo and also Juliet consists of several oxymorons the both elevate the play’s language and also foreshadow its disastrous ending. Keep analysis for of these oxymorons from Shakespeare’s best-known work, as well as their literary purpose.


Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, acts I-II

The prologue of Romeo and Juliet advises the audience of one unhappy finishing to its story of “star-crossed lovers.” throughout Acts I and also II, oxymorons remind united state 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 that the most famed oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet comes from the Prince’s admonition to the Montegues and also Capulets ~ above the streets of Verona. He alerts them about further struggle disturbing the city’s peace:

Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,

By thee, old Capulet, and also Montague,

Have thrice disturb"d the quiet of ours streets…

(Romeo and also Juliet 1.1 91-93)

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

O Brawling Love, O loving Hate

Before Romeo set eyes top top Juliet, he to be head over heels because that Rosaline. Yet Rosaline’s rejection has set him right into a moody tailspin. Now confronted with news the the many recent Capulet-Montague brawl, Romeo laments come Benvolio:

“Yet phone call me not, for I have heard it 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, of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!

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

Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!

This love feel I, the feel no love in this.”

(1.1 179-187)

Oxymorons dealing with the fight – “O brawling love, O loving hate” – show Romeo’s ambivalent attitude toward the families’ animosity. He likewise 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 the His Liberty

Act II features the famed balcony scene in i m sorry Romeo and also Juliet express their love. Juliet speak Romeo that she desires him come go, but likewise to stay, reflected in the adhering to oxymoron:

"Tis nearly morning; ns would have actually thee gone:

And yet no more than a wanton"s bird;

Who allows it hop a little from her hand,

Like a bad prisoner in his twisted gyves,

And through a silk object plucks it back again,

So loving-jealous that his liberty.

(2.2 190-195)

Placing “loving” and also “jealous” next to each other in this means underscores Juliet’s interior conflict. Had she to be able to let Romeo go, she could have avoided she tragic fate – yet alas, the other side the the oxymoronic expression kept castle together.

Parting Is together Sweet Sorrow

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

“Yet I must kill thee with much cherishing.

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

That ns shall say an excellent night it spins it be morrow.”

(2.2 198-200)

Juliet knows that Romeo’s life is in hazard if he stays, however mourns the thought of that leaving. “Kill thee with much cherishing” shows that she love will end with his death, and “sweet sorrow” is one oxymoron relenten a beloved sadness. The ide of killing someone with love is a usual theme in Romeo and also Juliet, echoed in its numerous oxymorons.


Her Burying Grave the Is she Womb

The photo of the earth being both a grave and also a womb is additionally a repeated motif in the play. Here, Friar Lawrence shows on his garden and the cyclical nature that life:

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

What is her burying grave the is her womb,

And from she womb children of divers kind

We sucking ~ above her organic bosom find,

Many for numerous virtues excellent,

None but for some and also yet all different.

(2.3 10-14)

Audiences might not recognize that Romeo and also Juliet later finish their resides in a grave. However, this oxymoron both sets the tone and foreshadows their tragic end.

Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, plot III-IV

Act II in Romeo and also Juliet ends through their marriage and also the hope for a more positive future. However, the very an initial scene sets events in motion that continue through action IV, reflect in the characters’ countless oxymoronic phrases.

I am Fortune’s Fool

Romeo’s cry after the duel the took Tybalt’s life is one more oxymoron. He laments his waste of lucky in marrying Juliet:

O, ns am fortune"s fool!

(3.1 142)

The native “fortune” explains the universe’s allotment of happiness to Romeo. Yet the very next word, “fool” suggests a person who has no fortune or luck. The oxymoron develops the figurative crossroads Romeo finds self in in ~ this moment.

Dreadful Trumpet

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

What storm is this that blows therefore contrary?

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

My dear-loved cousin, and also my dearer lord?

Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!

For that is living, if those two are gone?

(3.2 70-74)

Trumpets are linked with triumph and also glory. Its confident connotation contrasted with the word “dreadful” creates an oxymoron that perfectly describes the feeling of undesirable news.



Beautiful Tyrant, Fiend Angelical

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

O serpent heart, hid v 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 you justly seem"st,

A damnèd saint, an honorable villain!

(3.2 79-86)

Juliet can not make feeling of how her lover husband is a hated murderer. She deems that a “beautiful tyrant” and also “fiend angelical,” mixing up the native in each oxymoron come reflect her very own mixed-up feelings. Juliet walk the exact same thing with “a damned saint, an honorable villain!”

Freezes increase the heat of Life

After being promised to Paris for marriage, Juliet sees only one means out of her predicament. She convinces it s her to take the elixir that will certainly make her appear dead:

“Farewell! God knows once we shall fulfill again.

I have actually a faint cold fear thrills v my veins,

That virtually freezes increase the warmth of life:

I"ll contact them earlier again to comfort me:

Nurse! What have to she carry out here?

My dismal scene i needs need to act alone.

(4.3 15-20)

Placing “freezes” and also “heat” in the exact same sentence demonstrates how quickly fatality can take host of someone. It likewise foreshadows what is around to take place when Juliet does drink the elixir.

Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, act V

The untimely end to both Romeo’s and also Juliet’s lives, and also the beat itself, is full of oxymorons. Love top to death is the can be fried paradox. Right here are some of oxymorons throughout the critical act the Romeo and also Juliet.


Unhappy Fortune

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

Unhappy happiness! by my brotherhood,

The letter was no nice yet full of charge

Of too ~ import, and also the neglecting it

May do lot danger.

(5.2 17-20)

“Unhappy fortune” approximately translates to “bad luck.” favor Romeo’s heat “I to be fortune’s fool,” Friar Lawrence’s heat contrasts the hopeful connotation that “fortune” with a negative word. This oxymoron reflects ago to the prologue’s reference to “star-crossed lovers” – a catastrophic ending collection up by the universe.

Poor living Corpse

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

But I will certainly write again to Mantua,

And keep her in ~ my cabinet till Romeo come;

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

(5.2 (27-30)

Juliet’s state as a living human being inside a dig is a paradox in itself. The ax “living corse (or corpse)” is one oxymoron that explains her situation: she is dead, however she is also alive.

Myself Condemned and also Myself Excused

After Romeo and also Juliet fulfill their catastrophic end, the prince desires answers. That inquires what duty Friar Lawrence had actually in the ordeal, and also the friar explains:

I to be the greatest, may be to execute least,

Yet many suspected, together the time and place

Doth make against me that this direful murder;

And here I stand, both to impeach and also purge

Myself condemned and also myself excused.

(5.3 232-236)

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


Kill your Joys through Love

The prince chastises Capulet and Montague for their recurring feud. The parallels his lecture from plot I, but likewise shifts reprimand to himself for not taking your fight serious enough:

Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,

That heaven finds method to kill your joys with love.

And i for winking at her discords too

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

(5.2 301-305)

The phrase “kill your joys through love” contrasts the an unfavorable verb “kills” through the positive nouns “joy” and “love.” This oxymoron perfectly defines the eventually tragedy that Romeo and Juliet’s story: they were eliminated by love and hate alike.

A Glooming Peace

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

A glooming peace this morning v it brings;

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

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

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

For never ever was a story of an ext woe

Than this of Juliet and also her Romeo.

(5.2 316-321)

The word “peace” has actually a optimistic connotation. Pairing it with words “glooming” clues the play’s last oxymoron, together the only way these family members can finish their war was with the sacrifice that their own children.

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Literary devices in Romeo and Juliet

Each of these oxymorons summarizes the conflicted nature of Romeo and also Juliet. Together Juliet states in plot II she “only love sprung from her only hate” proves to it is in the can be fried paradox the the play. Come learn more about Shakespearean literary devices, check out these of alliteration from Romeo and Juliet. Then, discover the key themes of Romeo and Juliet.