Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Man cub. Yes, this figure of speech would be familiar to some of us. The Bengal tiger Shere Khan, the fictional character and the main antagonist from Rudyard Kipling's book The Jungle Book, addresses Mowgli the protagonist of the story as man cub. This literary device where two contradictory words are paired together to create a dramatic effect as well as to sustain the interest of the readers or listeners or viewers is called oxymoron.
Examples of oxymoron are plenty and it is one that we often use in our day-to-day communication. "Really? That's awfully funny." Here 'awfully' and 'funny' are two contradictory words paired together but it does mean one thing that something was extremely funny and not that something was awful.
JULIET Sweet, so would I. Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing. Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow That I shall say good night till it be morrow. [II.i.226-229]
The two words 'sweet' and 'sorrow' in these lines by the character Juliet from Shakespeare's one of the most popular plays Romeo and Juliet is an effective example of oxymoron conveying to the audience the anxiety and longing that are part of parting.