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What does Romeo's language in his opening soliloquy of Act 2, Scene 2, lines 2-25, of...

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stevydinho | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 1, 2012 at 4:45 AM via web

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What does Romeo's language in his opening soliloquy of Act 2, Scene 2, lines 2-25, of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, reveal about his feelings towards Juliet?

 

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 4, 2013 at 5:53 AM (Answer #1)

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In this passage, the language Romeo uses mostly portrays his feelings of passion and intense physical attraction for Juliet.

We see his language expressing his feelings of intense physical attraction in the very first couple of lines in which he compares her beauty to the sun, "But Soft! What light through yonder window breaks? / It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" (II.ii.2-3). Since the sun is the brightest object in both the sky and solar system, the metaphor of likening Juliet to the sun serves to liken her beauty to the sun. Since Juliet is so beautiful, she is as bright as the sun. Romeo makes the same sort of analogy when he first sees her by likening her beauty to a bright, flaming torch and to a bright jewel hanging against dark skin. Since Romeo's metaphor comparing Juliet to the sun strictly refers to her beauty, we know that the language of these lines portrays his emotions of intense physical attraction.

Another aspect of his language that portrays his physical attraction is that he actually uses a metaphor which essentially tells Juliet to cast off her clothes or her virginity. After likening Juliet to the sun, he next tells her to "arise ... and kill the envious moon" (4). He next argues that the moon is jealous of Juliet because she is more beautiful than the moon. He uses an extended metaphor that likens Juliet to a handmaid of the moon, telling her to cease being the moon's "maid." However, the word "maid" has a double meaning as it can refer to a handmaid as well as to a virgin (7). He then tells her to "cast off" the moon's "vestal livery" (8-9). The word "vestal" means virginal, while the word "livery" refers to clothing, or even more specifically to a uniform, the uniform she would be wearing as the handmaid of the moon. Hence, in this passage, Romeo, in his mind, is telling Juliet to cast off her virginity or to cast off her clothing, also showing us his feelings of deep physical attraction.

Therefore, essentially, the entire passage shows us how Romeo equates the feelings of love with physical attraction, and the passage continues to speak of his love for her and praise her beauty.

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