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How does Shakespeare use language to show love in Romeo and Juliet?How does...

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kite | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 6, 2009 at 8:47 AM via web

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How does Shakespeare use language to show love in Romeo and Juliet?

How does Shakespeare use language to show love in Romeo and Juliet?

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cbetances | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 10, 2009 at 1:59 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a broad question.

I recommend narrowing it down to a specific scene to help you.

In general, Shakespeare uses poetic language in iambic pentameter to express love in the play. His character of Romeo speaks in rhyming couplets and uses metaphoric language to express his feelings. For example, in Act II Scene II

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 and pale with grief,

That thou her maid art far more fair than she:

Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.

If you read this speech you can see example of blank verse poetic language as well as metaphoric language used to show love.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:31 AM (Answer #3)

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One beautiful example of the love of Romeo upon meeting Juliet is expressed in the sonnet of Act 1, scene 5 in which Romeo and Juliet have 7 lines each:

(Romeo) If I profane with my unworthiest hand/this holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:/My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand/To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

(Juliet) Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,/Which mannerly devotion shows in this;/For saints have hand that pilgrims' hands do touch,/ And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

This sonnet with its metaphor of pilgrims elevates Romeo's love as it lends a spiritual overtone to the physical attraction that Romeo feels when he first sees Juliet and exclaims, "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!...Beauty too rich for  use, for earth too dear!"

Another example of Romeo's being "bewitched by the charms of looks" (Chorus of Act 2) occurs in the famous balcony scene of Scene 1 in which Romeo speaks of Juliet in celestial metaphors and light imagery:  She is "the sun" of which the moon is envious.  "The brightness of her cheek" also puts the stars to shame, Romeo declares as he lovingly wishes,

O, that I were a glove upon that hand,/That I might touch that cheek!

Again, by the use of poetic devices Shakespeare suggests both the physical and spiritual love that Romeo feels for Juliet.  (This use of poetic form to describe one's love is typical of lovers in the Elizabethan age; men were expected to compose poety for their paramours.)

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