Romeo And Juliet Literary Devices Essay

Tone is one literary device Shakespeare uses to clearly portray Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy. Tone should not be confused with mood. Mood describes the atmosphere of a piece of literature or the atmosphere of a certain scene or part; it describes the characters' feelings. Tone, on the other hand, describes the author's attitude toward the piece. Shakespeare generally paints a very disapproving tone towards the events of the story, which not only helps relay his important themes, but also helps to paint the play as a tragedy.

It's quite evident in several places that Shakespeare not only disapproves of the actions between the Capulets and Montagues but also of Romeo's and Juliet's actions as well. We first hear Shakespeare's tone, or attitude, towards the subject in Prince Escalus's speech in the very first scene, especially when he refers to the warring families as "[p]rofaners of this neighbour-stained steel," which is to point out that both families are misusing their swords by attacking their own neighbors rather than their enemies (I.i.78). We even hear Shakespeare's disapproving tone in the voice of Friar Laurence, who, when we first meet him, points out that, like a poisonous flower, man has a dichotomous nature as well, which is "grace and rude will," and that when man allows his negative characteristics to be the more dominant ones, "[f]ull soon the canker death eats up [mankind]" (II.iii.28-30). Even Juliet acts, at first, as the voice of reason, allowing us to hear Shakespeare's disapproving tone towards the actions of the lovers. She acts as the voice of reason when she tells Romeo that, although she cares for him, she does not believe they should be making any promises tonight as it is "too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden" (II.ii.124).

Shakespeare's disapproving tone serves to relate the dominant themes of man's character weaknesses and also of the consequences of acting upon violent, passionate, emotions rather than rational thought. Not only do the warring family members allow their violent, passionate emotions to govern their behavior, so do Romeo and Juliet. And, as we see, acting upon violent, rash, passionate emotions leads to death. Therefore, Shakespeare's literary device of tone is one major element that helps characterize the play as a tragedy.

Shakespeare's poetic Romeo and Juliet is replete with literary devices, especially in Act II.  Here are some from scenes 1-3:

1. In scene one, Mercutio humorously compares Romeo to an ape in his metaphor "The ape is dead, and I must conjure him" (2.1.14)

One literary technique that is prevalent throughout the play, and especially salient in the balcony scene of the second act is the use of light/dark imagery.

2. In this scene, Romeo compares Juliet to the sun of which the Moon is envious.  Here, of course, the Moon is personified:

But, soft!  What light through yonder window breaks

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! [metaphor]

Arise, fair sun [metaphor for Juliet] and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

that thou her maid art far more fair than she(2.2.3-7)

3. Romeo addresses Juliet [apostrophe]:

Oh, speak again, bright angel! [metaphor for Juliet] For thou art

As glorious to this night, being o'er my head,

As is a winged messenger of Heaven [simile]

Unto the white-upturned wondering eye

Of mortals that fall back on him

When he bestrides the lazy paining clouds [personification]

And sails upon the bosom of the air [personification] (2.2.28-34)

4.  When Juliet does address Romeo, he calls her the metaphor of "dear saint" and declares that he will be "new baptized" and change his name.  Here there are religious figures of speech, as well, which extends from their pilgrim sonnet of the first act. (extended metaphor)

5.  He tells Juliet that he has scaled the orchard walls "with love's light wings,"  a metaphor for how he felt and alliteration in the repetition of the cosonant /l/  [/l/ means the sound of the letter l]

6. Again, there is much light/dark imagery in this scene  as Romeo tells Juliet "I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes" (2.2. 79),and Juliet says, "Thou know'st the mask of night [metaphor] is on my face" (2.2.89) and she tells him "dark night hath discovered" [personification and imagery]

7. Juliet tells Romeo that his "gracious self" [figure of speech] is "the god of my idolatry" [metaphor] (2.2. 119)

8. In a simile, Juliet avows:

My bounty is as boundless [alliteration] as the sea,

My love as deep...(2.2.139-140)

And, in another simile, Juliet cautions against vowing their love for it is "too rash/Too like lightning" (2.2.125)

9. Romeo employs alliteration in his response, "Oh, blessed, blessed night" (2.2.145), as does Juliet when she says goodbye:

Good nght, good night!  Parting is such sweet sorrow [metaphor and alliteration]

That I shall say good night till it be morrow. (2.2.198-199)

10. In the next scene in his soliloquy, Friar Lawrence employs the light/dark imagery as well as other literary devices:

The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,

Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,

And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels--[simile]

From forth day's path and Titan's [mythological allusion] fiery wheels [metaphor for the sun]  (another allusion is to Echo in mythology)

Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye [personification]

The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry; [alliteration] (2.3.1-6)

One thought on “Romeo And Juliet Literary Devices Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *