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Thread: Romeo & Juliet: Literary Devices

  1. #1

    Post Romeo & Juliet: Literary Devices

    Okay, I am doing my research paper on Romeo and Juliet. I am using Shakespeare's literary devices in my paper: foreshadowing, metaphors, and paradoxes....This paper is due soon and I have stayed up much into the night doing research and I havent found much on anything...does anyone know any examples or anything to do with this ? Thanks Alot.

  2. #2
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    R&J is a magnificent play. What I'm not clear on is what the paper intends to say about the literary devices? That they're present? Or that they "do" something in the play?

    Shakespeare's plays are master classes in literary devices - they're everywhere because the plays are written in poetry. In R&J perhaps the most significant device is paradox - check the following scenes for references containing paradoxes:

    1.1.115-130 (Benvolio's response to Lady Montague)
    1.1.160-180 (Romeo's discourse to Benvolio about "love")
    3.2.70-85 (Juliet's response to the news Romeo has killed Tybalt)

    Another "device" that the play is well known for is its co-mingling of sex and death (echoed by the Elizabethan use of "die" as a euphemism for an orgasm). There are numerous passages where "grave" and "marriage bed" are put together - see

    1.5.134-135 Juliet: If he be married, My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
    3.2.130-136 Juliet: But I, a maid, die maiden-widowed...I'll to my wedding-bed, and death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!
    3.5.199-200 Juliet: Or if you do not, make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies"
    4.5.33-40 Friar Lawrence: Come, is the bride ready to go to church?
    Capulet: Ready to go but never to return - O son the night before your wedding day, Hath Death lain with thy wife...Death is my heir, My daughter he hath wedded.

    See also Romeo's final lines before he kills himself

    Finally, Romeo speaks very figuratively about love, and about Juliet. He makes numerous metaphors for both - see Act 1 for metaphoric language on love, Act 1 (the party) and Act 2 (the balcony scene) for metaphors about Juliet.

    Good luck - hope this stuff is somewhat helpful
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  3. #3
    that information was very helpful. THANK YOU.

    do you know why he uses those literary devices (foreshadowing, metaphors, and paradoxes)...??

  4. #4
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Writers use literary devices because they communicate meanings that are otherwise difficult to communicate. Often it is difficult to find the right words to express an experience or feeling. Figurative language allows us to express feelings/ideas by utilizing other things to compare them to.

    So - if I say someone has a "heart of gold" - I have created a metaphor. The implied comparison suggests that the person is probably kind, good, generous, and caring. Why? Because the word "gold" evokes within our heads ideas of purity, value, preciousness as well as rarity and desireability. Now let's change to a "heart of stone." Now we think of the person as cold, uncaring, unfeeling, even cruel. Why? Because we associate the word "stone" with hardness, impenetrability, dead. Do you see? Metaphors and similies allow us to use associations to express multiple meanings. You could say "John is good and kind" - but if you say "John has a heart of gold" your reader automatically draws up good, and kind, and a whole bunch more.

    Foreshadowing is used in order to make a story believable. Stories need to follow a sort of logic, and readers are suspicious of solutions to problems that are too easy, too convenient. A story should have a certain logic, so that the events seem plausible, logical, even inevitable. Foreshadowing allows a writer to do this.

    Paradox is used by a writer to express contradictory emotions - like a woman crying at her wedding. There is something both happy and sad about such an occasion. Paradox suggests the split that people often feel in their hearts - we are rarely fully 100% on anything. Much of what it means to be human is embodied in the device of paradox. Romeo and Juliet is based upon paradox: I am in love with the child of my enemy (which makes my lover my enemy).

    Gotta go - class is over. Let me know if you need more.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  5. #5

    Shakespeare Sonnets

    Okay...you are like my hero. You have saved me (my grade). MY paper. Thanks a TON.

    MY friend who is also doing her research paper on Shakespeare is working on Shakespearian sonnets...the themes, do you have any information ?

  6. #6
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    I love Shakespeare's Sonnets - they are magnificent. One of the most prominent of themes is the power of poetry/art to outlast time (see sonnets 18, 19, 55, 60, 65) where the poet speaks of how his verse shall immortalize the beloved despite the ravages of time.

    Later sonnets (in the 120-130s or so) deal with the "dark lady" and are full of regret, anger, betrayal and such that occur in the poet's relationship with this "dark woman."

    Nature imagery occurs extensively (see sonnets 7, 18, 28, 29, 33, 75, 97).

    Immortality through offspring (see sonnets 1, 4, 5,6, 12, 15, 16).

    Immortality through love (see sonnets 22, 25, 62, 100)

    Don't know if that's helpful. Literary devices are everywhere - lots of irony, antithesis, metaphor, simile, personification.

    Good luck - let me know if I can be of more help.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  7. #7

    Paper

    Here is my paper...would you mind reviewing it and giving me any thought, corrections, or anything you think would make it better ?

    William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is one of the most popular and best loved of all Shakespeare’s plays; one reason is Shakespeare’s masterful use of foreshadowing, metaphors, and paradoxes.
    Shakespeare’s use of foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet is to give the readers and the audience hints on the outcome of the play. His utilizes this starting in the prologue of the play, Shakespeare writes: “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;…
    Do with their death bury their parents’ strife (Shakespeare Prologue).” He foreshadows that Romeo and Juliet will kill themselves by the end of the play and that with their death the problems of their parents’ will be concluded. Foreshadowing is used in a story so that it seems to have certain logic, so that the events seem plausible, logical, and even inevitable (Play Synopses). Romeo states:
    I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
    Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
    Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
    With this night’s revels and expire the term
    Of a despised life closed in my breast
    By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
    But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
    Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen. (Shakespeare I, IV, 104-113)
    Romeo, unknowingly, foreshadows the fate of the remainder of the play; A fateful chain of events does begin its appointed time that night, and that chain of events does terminate the duration of Romeo’s life with premature death (Romeo’s). Shakespeare also uses foreshadowing to reveal a love that will not be thwarted (Cummings) as well as to give a romantic transition between love and death (Romeo and Juliet Commentary). At the Capulet’s feast, to keep Tybalt and Romeo from making a scene, Mr. Capulet resorts to threats and insults; Tybalt’s only choice is to leave but he does not leave before making a promise that Romeo will pay, “I will withdraw: but this intrusion shall/Now seeming sweet convert to this bitter gall”(Shakespeare I, V, 91-92). Tybalt foreshadowes that Romeo will die by poison; gall is anything extremely bitter, and a secondary meaning of poison (Foreshadowing).
    On the Elizabethan stage, Shakespeare uses little to no props or backgrounds so he engages the audience through his use of metaphors (Snow 164). He uses metaphors of lightness and darkness to give a surreal image of love and death. Juliet often refers to Romeo as a light that illiminates her darkness. She says in Act III, Scene II, Lines 21-25 that when Romeo dies she wants him to be cut into little stars in the dark night sky, so the entire world will fall in love with the night. Beauty's light becomes an enabling force that emantes from the consumated relationship of the two “star-cross'd lovers” (Snow 166). Visiblity is cancelled and then restored in Romeo and Juliet, by means of a metaphor (Acumen Professional Intelligence) when a bare-lit stafe becomes a dark garden above which Juliet appears like the sun.
    But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
    It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
    Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick an pale with grief,
    That thou her maid art far more than she. (Shakespeare II, II, 4-8)
    Romeo compares Juliet with the dawning sun in a metaphor. Metaphors for darkness in Romeo and Juliet are extremely prevailent; The darkness shields their light, their love, from the eyes of their family (Mabillard). As Romeo lays himself beside Juliet, he bids farewell to his life as he embraces Juliet ad death. He says, “Arms, that you last embrace! And, lips, O you/The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss/A dateless [eternal] bargain to engrossing death” (Shakespeare V, III, 113-115). In the same scene, Romeo holds up a vile of poison and speaks, “Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!/Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on/The dashing rocks they sea-sick weary bark!” In this metaphor, the “pilot” is the poison and Romeo's life is the ship (“bark”) which the pilot will run upon the rocks to be dashed into pieces (Romeo's pilot metaphors).
    Much of what it means to be completely human is embodied in the device of a paradox (Play Synopses). Shakespeare uses paradoxes to illustrate the themese of the play in subtle ways (Thrasher 189). Romeo and Juliet is based upon a paradox; I am in love with the child of enemy therefore my lover is my enemy. There are also many othere paradoxes used to differentiate between the social classes of the characters. The courtly love of Romeo is balanced by the earthly love of Mercutio, the sexual innocence and loyalty of Juliet are counterbalanced by the Nurse's carnal knowledge and shifting loyalties, the peace-loving Benvolio is offset by the ferocious Tybalt, and the irrational hatred between the Capulet and the Montague is counterbalanced by rational Prince and Friar Lawrence (Love). Romeo amd Juliet, both, use many paradoxes when describing each other as well as, the feeling they experience for one another. In Act III, Scene II: When Juiet critizes' Romeo for killing Tybalt—she also praises him as her beloved; “aspised substance of divinest show” (Line 83), “spirit of a fiend in moral paradise of such swet flesh” (Lines 87-88), “Book containing such vile matter so fairly bound” (Lines 88-89), “Deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace” (Lines 89-89). Romeo and Juliet is a play that is built around opposites (Thrasher 76). Opposites arouse everywhere in the play: Romeo speaks of “brawling love” and “loving hate” (Shakespeare I, I, 176), he also describes love as “A choking gall, and a preserving sweet” (Shakespeare I, I, 193), and he describes Juliet as “a showy dove trooping with crows” (Shakespeare I, V, 48).
    In the tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses many literary deivces to give his marvelous creation meaning; through his use of foreshdowing, metaphors, and paradoxes he emphasizes the essential message of the play.

  8. #8
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Hi there -

    Your paper sounds good - strongly written and well organized. A few points to consider:

    1. The prologue actually summarizes the action of the play rather than "foreshadows" it. Most of Shakespeare's plays were taken from already published sources, and the audiences generally knew how most of these plays would end - in fact, Elizabethan drama really wasn't about how the play ended - it was about how the characters got to that already established end. Also, another good example of foreshadowing occurs in 5.1 where Romeo (prior to receiving notice that Juliet is "dead") says this: "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead...and breath'd such life with kisses in my lips that I reviv'd and was an emporer" - interesting because the final death scene mirrors his dream (except that she awakes after he kisses her, albiet too late).

    2. These examples

    The courtly love of Romeo is balanced by the earthly love of Mercutio, the sexual innocence and loyalty of Juliet are counterbalanced by the Nurse's carnal knowledge and shifting loyalties, the peace-loving Benvolio is offset by the ferocious Tybalt, and the irrational hatred between the Capulet and the Montague is counterbalanced by rational Prince and Friar Lawrence (Love).

    are actually examples of "antithesis" (which are all very good examples - things I've never thought about though I've taught this play for many years - bravo!). If you wanted to, you could turn this into a separate paragraph discussing antithesis - a common device in the play (as seen in your discussion of the "light/dark" imagery in the metaphors). Paradox has to do with an internal contradiction (as illustrated by the later examples you gave where contradictions were yoked together instead of appearing in seperate characters).

    Overall good job - good luck with it
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  9. #9

    Talking Literary devises from Romeo and Juliet

    Hi,
    i just started today,
    I am having trouble finding literary devises for act 4 and 5.
    You mind giving me a hand?

  10. #10
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    I absolutely adore Shakespeare's plays and sonnets; therefore when I saw this thread I just had to read it. I want to thank Redzeppelin, especially, for sharing all of this valuable information with us. You were very concise laying out examples and posting references, as to exaclty what scene they were taken from. Thanks for taking the time to do this and for posting such helpful information. Are you a professor of literature or Shakespeare?

    I apologize, Mallory, I did not read all of your paper, but what I did read, seemed very good and solid and well documented. I think that you received some very valuable informaton from R. I see that you are new to Lit Net and hope you can take part in future discussions of Shakespeare, and of course, other fine authors on this site. Welcome to Lit Net.
    holyhead, I see you are also new -Welcome as well, and all the same applies that I said to M!
    Last edited by Janine; 12-01-2007 at 05:58 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  11. #11
    I'm looking for a little help from someone who knows there R&J, i have about 20 questions per act and i know all of them but i am very bad with literary devices, could anyone help me find these in act one. Pun, alliteration, allusion, hyperbole, irony, comic relief, foreshadowing and aside. i would really appreciate the assistance.

  12. #12
    Registered User Louisos's Avatar
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    dramatic irony - the prologue tells the audience what is going to happen, the actors don't know.

  13. #13
    okay, i have to make a test for my unit grade in English. Part of the test includes literary devices, and we can only use each one once. I only need three more and I can still use apostrophe, simile, pun (not the one about the soles and the souls) and hyperbole. Can somebody help me? Thank you so much!

  14. #14
    literary devices for Act 3 Scene 3 in Romeo and Juliet??

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=Redzeppelin;292113]

    Hi, I noticed that you are a GENIOUS at the shakepeare plays, I am sorry to bother you but I REALLY need help, my teacher asked me to write all foreshadowing, metaphors, similes, personification, allegories, hyperboles, and puns. I have read the story and researched like crazy, but I have only found very few things i'm very bad at this, so I am begging you, please help me (
    I beg you!!!

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