What are some oxymora and paradoxes in Act 1, scene V, of Romeo and Juliet?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet speaks a few paradoxes at the very end of the scene.  A paradox is a statement or situation that seems impossibly contradictory, and yet is nevertheless true.  In order to find out what Romeo's name is, she sends her Nurse to ask him, saying, "If he be married, / My grave is like to be my wedding bed" (1.5.148-149).  It seems like a contradiction to claim that the place where one is buried could double as one's wedding bed; however, Juliet means that if she learns that this young man is already taken, she will die before she ever gets married because he is the only one she would want to marry.

Then, right after Juliet learns from her Nurse that the name of the young man with whom she fell in love at first sight is Montague, she says, "My only love sprung from my only hate!" (1.5.153).  It does not seem possible that the one thing a person loves could come form the one thing that person hates, and yet, because the reader knows about the feud between their families, it makes sense why Juliet would say this.  She has fallen in love with Romeo, and yet he is a member of the family that her family hates, who she is likewise supposed to hate.  It's really a terribly difficult position for her.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene takes place at the masked ball given by the Capulets, which Romeo and his friends crash as a way to cure Romeo of his unrequited love for Rosaline. This plan works all too well, and Romeo falls in love with Juliet and she with him. By the end of the scene, a great paradox, or contradiction, is revealed: both Romeo and Juliet realize they have fallen in love with the member of an enemy house. They have fallen in love with what they are expected to hate. As Juliet puts it, expressing the paradox, her new love is "Too early seen unknown, and known too late!” By this she means she fell in love too soon and found out who her lover was when it was too late to stop her feelings. Oxymorons, or opposites yoked together, show up in the religious terminology the lovers use. For example, Romeo says:

"If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss."

One could argue that this is a form of oxymoron as it juxtaposes the chastity associated with religious devotion with the lustful passion they feel for each other.