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What do the oxymorons "beautiful tyrant, damned saint, honorable villain" mean in Romeo and Juliet?

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In "Romeo and Juliet," the oxymorons "beautiful tyrant, damned saint, honorable villain" reflect Juliet's conflicted feelings towards Romeo after he kills her cousin Tybalt. These oxymorons capture her struggle to reconcile her love for Romeo with her horror at his violent act. Juliet uses these contrasting terms to express both her adoration and her dismay, illustrating the intense emotional turmoil she experiences as she grapples with Romeo's dual nature.

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These phrases are part of a tirade that Juliet pronounces in act 3, scene 2. In this scene, she has just learned that Romeo killed her cousin Tybalt. Her family is distraught, and she shares part of their emotion. The whole passage is directed at Romeo, using the literary device of apostrophe, which is second-person direct address to an absent person, creature, thing, or concept.

The passage makes extensive use of oxymoron, the combination of two opposite things or ideas for effect. Many of those used are just two words; after “beautiful tyrant,” for example, she calls Romeo “field angelical.” Other descriptions are more elaborate: “Despised substance of divinest show!”

Although Juliet is addressing Romeo, it is clear that she is thinking out loud as she tries to figure out her next step. A rhetorical question she poses is for herself, not him, to answer: “Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?” Despite her deep love for Romeo, she wonders if she might not have been tricked by his outward beauty. It now appears that he is not what he seemed, but the opposite.

In most of the speech’s seven lines, her accusations have a completely negative cast. It is only at the end, after she has uttered the strongest language—“damned saint”—that she modifies her evaluation and mentions her belief in his honor.

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In an oxymoron, two ideas that seem to contradict each other are put together. Juliet, in this utterance, puts together three oxymorons about Romeo that express her frustration with him for killing her cousin Tybalt.

What Juliet is trying to say is that her emotions are torn apart by Romeo's act. She does truly find him beautiful, a saint, and honorable: he is the love of her life and her new husband. At the same time, she couldn't be more distressed that he has killed her beloved cousin, a hard blow to her. This act makes him seem tyrannous, damned, and villainous. She is dealing with the violence of her conflicting emotions as she comes to terms with the idea that the person she loves has just done something she abhors.

Because she loved Tybalt too, she can't help but be distraught that he is dead, and she can't help but lash out, at least initially, against the person who killed him.

With her oxymorons, Juliet is showing that her emotions are conflicted. As she gets over her first shock, she will move back to loyalty toward Romeo. But she wouldn't be quite human if she didn't react harshly against what he did in the first stunned moments of receiving this terrible news.

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Juliet means that she loves Romeo, but he is frustrating her.

Juliet loves Romeo with all of her heart, but you can love someone and still be frustrated with him.  When Juliet finds out that Romeo killed Tybalt, she is very angry.  This is why she uses these three beautiful figures of speech to describe him. 

First of all, an oxymoron is a pair of words that are a contradiction.  People often think of “jumbo shrimp” for example.  That one is my favorite!  “Jumbo” usually means large and “shrimp” is something small, but a jumbo shrimp is just the largest shrimp, but it’s an oxymoron.

When Juliet finds out that Romeo killed Tybalt, she is really in a bind.  Tybalt is her cousin and she loves him, but she knows Tybalt’s temper.  She also knows that Romeo is not the fighting type.  She realizes Romeo is probably the innocent party here.  However, she also has another problem.  She is secretly married to him! 

His actions affect Juliet, and there is nothing she can do here.  She loves him.  He is the "Beautiful tyrant!" because his course sets hers.

O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,
A damned saint, an honourable villain! (Act 3, Scene 2)

When she says that Romeo is the opposite to what he seems, and calls him “serpent heart, hid with a flowering face,” this does not mean that she really thinks that he is evil.  It just means that she appreciates the severity of the situation.  When she calls him “Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!” it is because he has a hold over her.  He is deciding the course of her future with his actions.

The prince actually outlawed all fighting, so by fighting and killing Tybalt, Romeo really messed up.  This is why he is a "damned saint" and an "honourable villain."  He did nothing wrong, and was actually trying to do the right thing, but is condemned for his actions.

Notice that when the Nurse tries to disparage Romeo, Juliet comes to his defense.

Blister'd be thy tongue
For such a wish! he was not born to shame:
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit;
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
Sole monarch of the universal earth.
O, what a beast was I to chide at him! (Act 3, Scene 2)

Try though she might to be angry at him, Juliet still loves Romeo.  She can’t be mad at him for long.  She will stand by him.  She refuses to let anyone else insult him, and she will not scold him anymore.  Juliet decides that there is nothing else they can do for Tybalt.  Tybalt is dead.  Romeo is alive, and she loves Romeo.  It is to Romeo that her loyalties lie.

In a way, Juliet has no choice.  She could marry Paris, but she would know in her heart that what she was doing was not honorable.  So she decides to trust Romeo, and hope that he will find a way to come back to her.  In the meantime, she also puts her faith in Friar Lawrence, and comes up with a truly remarkable but also truly awful plan to fake her death.  With it, both their fates are sealed.

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