Shakespeare was the master of figurative language. Consider how the use of metaphor, simile, hyperbole, and/or personification contributes to the meanings of one of the play’s longer speeches. Analyze a speech and explain its figurative language.
Romeo and Juliet is a tale of two lovers amidst their unconditional love, tragic fate, and the mysteries of the world around them. Shakespeare, through this literary source, is able to effectively draw attention to many different themes, particularly to the heavy contrast between light and darkness seen through many of his character’s speeches. Shakespeare’s extraordinary ability to use figurative language in Romeo’s famous love speech in Act II, (the Balcony Scene,) to Juliet is seen prominently through metaphors, imagery, and personifications which emphasize the lovers’ infinite love for each other.
Shakespeare uses metaphors to describe and compare Juliet’s surpassing beauty which is able to even transform the darkest night into a breathtaking day. “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks/ It is the east and Juliet is the sun.” (II, ii, 1-2.) The use of this metaphor deepens the significance of Romeo’s feelings about Juliet and how she is his everything, as without the sun he would not be alive. The motif of light is portrayed through Juliet and how her presence is able to turn night to day, “… Her eyes in heaven/ Would through the airy region stream so bright. That birds would sing and think it were not night.” (II, ii, 19-22.) This comparison dramatically underlines Romeo’s infatuation and the fact that everything revolves around Juliet. This is not the only literary device that is used through Romeo’s vow of love as imagery plays a big role in his speech as well.
Shakespeare is able to hit the five senses of smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing with one stone. Combining these senses into a concoction of vivid experience which is able to connect the reader not only emotionally, but physically as well. One is able to climb into Romeo’s mind and understand what he is thinking, feeling, and conceiving. “Her eye discourses, I will answer it/…… Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, / Having some business. Do entreat her eyes/ To twinkle in their spheres till they return/….The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars/ As daylight doth a lamp. Her eyes in heaven./ (II ,ii , 12-20) One is able to form a picture of sparkling gleams of light reflected on two eyes and the blossoming blush on a loved one’s cheek. The imagery described by Shakespeare is able to place one in a dream. A dream where the feelings of falling head over heels for somebody becomes a reality. Shakespeare is able to quickly infect one with this love disease of fluffy airiness, a light head, thumping heart, and the devotion to Juliet, which quickly becomes one’s own love interest. Imagery is able to dig beneath the surface and contribute to the meaning of how being in love can change a person completely. Shakespeare isn’t just able to make one read, but allow one to imagine, to dream, and most importantly to feel emotions that one would not regularly experience. Imagery is not the only device that contributes to the many deeper meanings of the play but personification is able to thread everything together.
At the beginning of Romeo’s speech to Juliet, one can see that personification is one of the first literary devices that become evident. Shakespeare’s use of personification gives life to many contrasting objects in nature, for instance: the sun and the moon, “Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon, / Who is already sick and pale with grief.” (II, ii, 3-4.) These lively new characters of nature contribute greatly to the storyline of Romeo and Juliet. The moon soon becomes a person that is no match for Juliet, who is the sun, but shortly after is transformed into a token of love for Romeo. These symbolic objects and the constant reference to light versus darkness often pop up through the times the lovers meet, which greatly affect the lovers’ fate and how they use these symbols to articulate their love for each other. These personifications are able to provide a stronger visualization of night and day which is where most of the play takes place.
Shakespeare is efficiently able to portray his characters and play, in an unbelievable manner. His use of literary devices, (in particular, the metaphor, simile, imagery, and personification) allows the audience to take a walk in his character’s shoes. These devices are able to connect readers to the deeper meanings of everyday words. Everyday words, when lacking these devices would mean nothing. With Shakespeare’s talent, he is able to thread these words and literary devices into something that readers are able to understand, from the visual comparisons of professing love, and even to the contrast of night and day.
Written by Cecilia Pang for an English 10 Assignment