What Are Examples of Oxymorons in “Romeo and Juliet”?

One example of oxymoron in “Romeo and Juliet” comes from Act I, scene i when Romeo says, “O brawling love! O loving hate!” William Shakespeare made plentiful use of oxymorons in his tragedy. An oxymoron is a statement or phrase employing seemingly contradictory terms. Brawling does not seem synonymous with love, nor does loving with hate.

Romeo continues in that same speech to use many more oxymorons when he says,”O heavy lightness, serious vanity/ Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!/ Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!” By using these oxymorons, Shakespeare allows Romeo to show just how confused he is by his new emotions of love for Juliet.

Juliet herself uses an oxymoron in Act I, scene ii when she says, “Goodnight! Goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow.” The word “sweet” is not usually used to describe “sorrow.” When Juliet finds out in Act III that Romeo has killed her cousin Tybalt, she uses oxymorons to describe the man she loves who has done this terrible act against her family by saying he is a “beautiful tyrant.” This oxymoron shows how torn her heart is at this point about Romeo. The word “oxymoron” is actually an oxymoron since it comes from two Greek words that are opposites: sharp and dull.