In Act 3, Juliet says, "O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face! Did ever a dragon keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!"
What does this mean? I know there are oxymorons in this quote, but I don't get it. It's from Romeo and Juliet.
1 Answer | Add Yours
In Act III Scene I, Romeo kills Tybalt--Juliet's cousin--since Tybalt killed Mercutio. We also know that Romeo & Juliet are now married (in a rather hasty and secret ceremony). When the nurse brings news that Romeo slew Tybalt, Juliet responds with the words you mentioned, and a few more.
In her mind, she is hoping she has not been deceived by this Romeo guy; in other words, he might have a "flow'ring face" (meaning "handsome"), but actually have a "serpent heart" in him that would be cruel enough to slay her cousin.
Most of this emotional rant deals with contradictions, or oxymorons, as she tries to understand why such a great guy might kill Tybalt. In other words, he might be "beautiful", but he could still be a "tyrant"; he might be "angelical", but still be a "fiend". Basically, her mind is trying to process whether he is good or evil.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes