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

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William Shakespeare’s Romeo and also Juliet includes several oxymorons that both elevate the play’s language and foreshadow its tragic ending. Keep reading for of this oxymorons from Shakespeare’s best-known work, and also their literary purpose.


Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, acts I-II

The prologue that Romeo and Juliet warns the audience of one unhappy finishing to its story of “star-crossed lovers.” transparent Acts I and II, oxymorons remind us of the prologue’s message: these opposing pressures will not end peacefully. Castle reflect the characters’ ambivalent attitudes, take it loyalties, and misaligned goals.

Civil Brawls

One of the most famous oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet comes from the Prince’s admonition come the Montegues and also Capulets on the highways of Verona. He cautions them around 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” suggests that the brawls space friendly. The idea that a “friendly fight” is a clean oxymoron the contradicts itself.

O Brawling Love, O love Hate

Before Romeo collection eyes on Juliet, he was head over heels for Rosaline. However Rosaline’s refusal has collection him right into a moody tailspin. Now faced with news the the many recent Capulet-Montague brawl, Romeo laments come Benvolio:

“Yet call me not, for I have actually heard it all.

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

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate

O any thing, that nothing very first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos the well-seeming forms!

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

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

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

(1.1 179-187)

Oxymorons handling the fight – “O brawling love, O love hate” – show Romeo’s ambivalent attitude toward the families’ animosity. He additionally uses oxymorons to define how out-of-sorts the feels in his love towards Rosaline (“cold fire, ailing health, still-waking sleep”).


So Loving-Jealous the His Liberty

Act II attributes the famed balcony scene in which Romeo and Juliet express their love. Juliet tells Romeo that she desires him come go, but additionally to stay, reflect in the complying with oxymoron:

"Tis virtually morning; i would have actually thee gone:

And however no additional than a wanton"s bird;

Who allows it hop a tiny from her hand,

Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,

And through a silk subject plucks it earlier 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 inner conflict. Had she been able come let Romeo go, she can have avoided she tragic fate – but alas, the other side the the oxymoronic phrase kept lock together.

Parting Is such Sweet Sorrow

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

“Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.

Good night, an excellent night! parting is such sweet sorrow,

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

(2.2 198-200)

Juliet knows the Romeo’s life is in danger if the stays, yet mourns the assumed of that leaving. “Kill thee with much cherishing” indicates that she love will finish with his death, and “sweet sorrow” is an oxymoron explicate a lovely sadness. The concept of death someone with love is a usual theme in Romeo and Juliet, echoed in its many oxymorons.


Her Burying Grave that Is her Womb

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

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

What is her burying grave that is she womb,

And from her womb youngsters of divers kind

We sucking top top her herbal bosom find,

Many for many virtues excellent,

None however for some and also yet all different.

(2.3 10-14)

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

Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet, plot III-IV

Act II in Romeo and Juliet ends through their marriage and the hope because that a much more positive future. However, the very an initial scene sets events in activity that proceed through act IV, reflected in the characters’ many 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 waste of happy in marrying Juliet:

O, ns am fortune"s fool!

(3.1 142)

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

Dreadful Trumpet

Much confusion arises after the fatality of Tybalt. No hope to hear the news indigenous the sobbing nurse, Juliet pleads v her for clarity:

What storm is this the blows therefore contrary?

Is Romeo slaughter"d, and is Tybalt dead?

My dear-loved cousin, and my dearer lord?

Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the basic doom!

For that is living, if those two are gone?

(3.2 70-74)

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



Beautiful Tyrant, Fiend Angelical

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

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

Did ever before dragon store 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, one honorable villain!

(3.2 79-86)

Juliet cannot make feeling of exactly how her beloved husband is a hated murderer. She deems him a “beautiful tyrant” and “fiend angelical,” mixing up the native in every oxymoron to reflect her very own mixed-up feelings. Juliet walk the exact same thing through “a damned saint, an honorable villain!”

Freezes increase the heat of Life

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

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

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

That nearly freezes increase the warm of life:

I"ll contact them ago again to lull me:

Nurse! What must she do here?

My dismal scene ns needs should act alone.

(4.3 15-20)

Placing “freezes” and “heat” in the very same sentence demonstrates how quickly death can take hold of someone. It also foreshadows what is about to take place when Juliet does drink the elixir.

Oxymorons in Romeo and also Juliet, act V

The untimely end to both Romeo’s and Juliet’s lives, and also the play itself, is complete of oxymorons. Love leading to death is the ultimate paradox. Here are some that oxymorons throughout the critical act the Romeo and also Juliet.


Unhappy Fortune

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

Unhappy happiness! by mine brotherhood,

The letter was no nice yet full the charge

Of to ~ import, and the neglecting it

May do lot danger.

(5.2 17-20)

“Unhappy fortune” around translates to “bad luck.” favor Romeo’s line “I am fortune’s fool,” Friar Lawrence’s line contrasts the confident connotation the “fortune” with a an adverse word. This oxymoron reflects ago to the prologue’s referral to “star-crossed lovers” – a catastrophic ending set up by the universe.

Poor living Corpse

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

But I will write again come Mantua,

And save her at 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 tomb is a paradox in itself. The ax “living corse (or corpse)” is an oxymoron that describes her situation: she is dead, yet she is additionally alive.

Myself Condemned and also Myself Excused

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

I am the greatest, able to carry out least,

Yet most suspected, as the time and place

Doth make versus me of this direful murder;

And right here I stand, both come impeach and also purge

Myself condemned and also myself excused.

(5.3 232-236)

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


Kill her Joys v Love

The prince chastises Capulet and also Montague because that their ongoing feud. The parallels his class from plot I, but likewise shifts blame to himself for not taking your fight serious enough:

Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!

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

That sky finds means to kill her joys v love.

And i for winking at your discords too

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

(5.2 301-305)

The phrase “kill her joys through love” contrasts the an unfavorable verb “kills” v the positive nouns “joy” and also “love.” This oxymoron perfectly explains the at some point tragedy that Romeo and also Juliet’s story: they were eliminated by love and hate alike.

A Glooming Peace

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

A glooming peace this morning through it brings;

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

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

Some shall be pardon"d, and also some punished:

For never was a story of an ext woe

Than this the Juliet and her Romeo.

(5.2 316-321)

The indigenous “peace” has actually a hopeful connotation. Pairing that with words “glooming” point out the play’s final oxymoron, as the only method these families can finish their war was through the sacrifice of their very own children.

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Literary tools in Romeo and also Juliet

Each of this oxymorons summarizes the conflicted nature of Romeo and also Juliet. Together Juliet states in act II she “only love sprung indigenous her only hate” proves to it is in the ultimate paradox the the play. To learn much more about Shakespearean literature devices, read these that alliteration from Romeo and Juliet. Then, uncover the main themes that Romeo and also Juliet.