What is the function of an oxymoron in a piece of writing..Why does the author use oxymorons?What does it serve to do to the reader? shakespear in ..."Know this is a joyful trouble to you." what...

What is the function of an oxymoron in a piece of writing..

Why does the author use oxymorons?
What does it serve to do to the reader?

shakespear in ..."Know this is a joyful trouble to you."

what is the function of the "joyful trouble" oxymoron

Expert Answers
kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An oxymoron is when an author puts two words together that are opposing or contradictory. By using an oxymoron, the author adds an element of complexity and encourages the reader to think deeply about a particular idea.

In this example from act 2, scene 3, it is Macduff who uses the oxymoron, "joyful trouble." To put it into context, Macduff is talking about Macbeth's hosting of King Duncan. On the one hand, Macduff says it is joyful because it is an honor to have the king at one's home but, on the other, it is a trouble because of all the work that goes into it.

This oxymoron contains much more truth than Macduff realizes. As the reader knows, King Duncan is already dead. So, for Macbeth, hosting Duncan really has been a "joyful trouble," but not in the way Macduff means. For Macbeth, it has been joyful because Duncan's death will make him king, but a trouble because it involves committing a murder (and covering it up).

This oxymoron, therefore, creates dramatic irony because the audience knows something Macduff evidently does not.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that the purpose of an oxymoron in a piece of writing is to cause the reader to think and, perhaps, to call attention to the idea set out by the oxymoron.

When you are reading and you see an oxymoron, you get taken aback for a bit.  You look at it and wonder "why would you use those two words together?"  So that makes you actually think more about the passage than you might otherwise.  That will also make you notice the line more than you otherwise would have.

The line you cite is in Act II, Scene 3.  Macbeth has killed Duncan, but no one else knows it.  Macduff tells him that hosting the king must by a joyful trouble.  In other words, it's a pain, but it's worth it because you get to hang out with the king and maybe make him like you.  Shakespeare uses the oxymoron to call attention to the irony here -- Macduff is telling Macbeth that it must be nice to have the king there and Macbeth has already killed the king.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First let's describe an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a literary device where two words or concepts are put together that are opposites. On the surface, this juxtaposition of words may not make too much sense, but it does cause the reader to pause and think for a bit. That might actually be the point of an oxymoron. Oxymorons usually challenge our sense of what is possible and by doing so make us think. This is important, because life is filled with paradoxes that seem like contradictions, but a little reflection makes these things perfectly clear.  For example, "joyful trouble" may seem like a contradiction, but there are a lot of "troubles" that are actually joyful - like studying, hard work, building friendships, etc.