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What are some oxymorons used in Act III of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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kelseylynn3897 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 8, 2012 at 3:42 PM via web

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What are some oxymorons used in Act III of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:17 AM (Answer #1)

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Some of the best oxymorons in Act 3 our found in Scene 2, when Juliet learns that Romeo has killed Tybalt and has been banished. Juliet shows just how much she feels she has been deceived by Romeo through calling him all sorts of contrary opposites.

One oxymoron she refers to Romeo as is "beautiful tyrant." A tyrant is an oppressive dictator who pays no heed to justice. Since tyrants oppress their people, tyrants cannot be considered beautiful.

Another is "fiend angelical." A fiend is the devil or an extremely "cruel" and "wicked person" ("Fiend," Dictionary.com). The word angelical refers to an angel, or a very good and virtuous person. Therefore, a "fiend" cannot also be "angelical."

A third oxymoron is "Dove-feather'd raven." Dove's are typically white, while ravens are black. Therefore a raven cannot be white, or "dove-feather'd." Also, since doves are characteristically considered beautiful, while ravens are plain, ugly, or even scary, they are contradictory images. The images contrast what Juliet first perceived as Romeo's beauty to what she now believes is his ugly soul.


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