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What are some examples of OXYMORONS IN MACBETH??the internet keeps saying "foul is fair...

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jenjen456 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 3, 2010 at 3:24 AM via web

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What are some examples of OXYMORONS IN MACBETH??

the internet keeps saying "foul is fair and fair is fould" but thats a complete sentence so thats a paradox NOT an oxymoron....

i am unable to find any examples please help me!!!

also what is the function of an oxymoron..?
why do writers use it? what effect does it have on the reader?

thanks soo much!
i've been looking for an oxymoron in macbeth for hours and still no luck..

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 3, 2010 at 4:49 AM (Answer #1)

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I agree with you. I teach paradoxes as sentences and oxymorons as word pairs, but I think the differences may be negligible.  They are part of the same branch of equivocal language.  All oxymorons are paradoxical, but not paradoxes are oxymorons.  Most oxymorons are words or phrases; all paradoxes are statements.  A paradox is generally more absurd and counterintuitive, while an oxymoron is more poetically obvious and cutesy.

Enotes says this:

Oxymoron - a figure of speech in which two contradictory words or phrases are combined to produce a rhetorical effect by means of a concise paradox.

...In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 142, the speaker declares:

“Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate.”
Line 1

The above statement is a paradox, and within it has an oxymoron "virtue hate."

I teach "Foul is fair and fair is foul" as paradox, not oxymoron.  Shakespeare usually pairs his oxymorons, like in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo says "cold fire," "feather of lead" etc...

Shakespeare is not so cutesy in Macbeth: he uses many more paradoxes than oxymorons.  The only oxymoron I see is Macduff's, "Know this is a joyful trouble to you."

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