Essay: Metaphor and imagery – Romeo and Juliet

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  • Subject area(s): English literature essays
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  • Published on: July 16, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
  • Tags: Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare
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When Romeo and Juliet meet, they are oblivious that they are from different families, but when they find out, they are hesitant to continue with their relationship. Two devices used in this passage are metaphor and religious imagery. Metaphor is used to express love in this passage, and occasionally hate. When Juliet finds out that Romeo is a Montague, she refers to her love as something that springs. She says “My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late”. By saying this, she refers to her love as something that lives, and says that it sprung from something unpleasant as hate. Religious imagery is used because, when this play was originally written, religion was very prominent. At the time, the Great Reformation was taking place. This meant that religion was everywhere. In Romeo and Juliet, religious imagery is used to relate to the audience. Romeo addresses Juliet with religious imagery, comparing her to holy beings. At one point during their first meeting, Romeo says “Then move not while my prayers take place. He kisses her. Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purged”. By saying this, he is referring to her being holy, and able to purge his sins. This is something only people under God’s command can do. By referring to Juliet like this, Romeo is portraying her as a figure that is too good for earth and that she is a higher power than he. In Act I, Scene V, religious imagery and metaphor are used to relate to the audience, through current events, and to express love in a way not normally used respectively.

In Act II, Scene II, Shakespeare uses light and dark imagery as well as personification to display the difference between love or hate. Romeo is in the orchard and hears Juliet proclaim her love for him from a balcony above. He then reveals himself and proclaims his love for her. Romeo relates Juliet to the sun multiple times. In the time of this play, the solar belies were very different than of today. The sun was believed to be the thing that allowed light and life. By referring to Juliet as the sun, Romeo is showing her as superior. Demonstrating this is a quote, as follows: “It is the East, and Juliet is the Sun!”. It meaning the window, Romeo is relating Juliet to the rising sun. Another example of personification is when Juliet personifies her love. “With love light wings, did I o’erperch these walls”. By personifying her love, it seems to make it more genuine and real. Light and dark imagery makes, in this case, the night look like an item, rather than darkness. “Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face” (Page 52, Line 89). Romeo stated after Juliet had asked him about being caught in the Capulet gardens. When he said this, he was talking about darkness hiding who he is from the people he was intruding on. By using personification and light and dark imagery, Shakespeare has put more depth into the feeling and emotion in this scene.

Act V, Scene III is the scene in which Romeo kills himself. In this passage, a strong use of personification is used, alongside soliloquy. Personification is a powerful device, giving inanimate objects human characteristics. In previous paragraphs, love has been personified to give it more relatable characteristics. Paris, referring to someone in the grounds, states “What cursed foot wanders this way tonight?”. When staring this, he is giving a foot living characteristics, saying that it has the ability to wander. Another example of personification is when Romeo has just killed Paris, and he says “Death, lie thou here…”. By talking to death and telling it to lie there, he gives it lively characteristics, mainly of being able to lie down. Soliloquy allows a character to directly be involved with the audience, without the other characters knowing their thoughts. A prime example of soliloquy is evident in Lines 74 – 87 on Page 110. This soliloquy is about when Romeo kills Paris, and lays him in the tomb. This soliloquy was used to show Romeos personal feelings, that none of the other characters knew. By using soliloquy, Shakespeare has given the audience and insight into Romeo’s feelings and thoughts, giving a deeper connection to the character.

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