This refers to a figure of speech in which contradictory and opposite ideas are linked. It is similar to a paradox, but the oxymoron is contained within a phrase whereas the paradox is contained in a statement.
Examples of oxymorons:
Oxymorons in literature:
In Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Romeo uses oxymorons when describing his love of Rosaline to Benvolio:
‘Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything of nothing first create,
A heavy lightness, a serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of wellseeming forms,
Feather of lead.’
Juliet also uses some oxymorons when she finds out about Romeo killing her cousin:
‘O serpent heart, hid with a flow’ring face!
Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical,
Dove-feather’d raven, wolfish ravening lamb,
A damned saint, an honourable villain!’