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What is blank verse and where is an example of it in Romeo and Juliet?

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sdevon777 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 9, 2008 at 4:53 AM via web

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What is blank verse and where is an example of it in Romeo and Juliet?

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted May 9, 2008 at 10:11 AM (Answer #2)

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Blank verse is iambic pentameter without the rhyme.  The link below will give you an excellent explanation here at eNotes.

An example I found is the Prince's lines in Act 1, scene 1, where he says,

Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel--
Will they not hear? What ho, you men, you beasts,
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins:

The iambic pentameter is still there, but the regular rhyme scheme of iambic pentameter is missing.

Check the link below for more information about blank verse!


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podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 9, 2008 at 10:03 AM (Answer #1)

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Blank verse usually refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter. This is verse that is made up of lines that are ten syllables (or five "feet") long, with the syllables alternating between unaccented and accented. A famous example is Romeo's speech from Act II, Scene 2:

But, soft, what light through yon-der win-dow breaks?

It is the east, and Jul-iet is the sun.

A-rise, fair sun, and kill the en-vious moon,

Who is al-read-y sick and pale with grief

That thou her maid art far more fair than she.


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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2014 at 10:40 PM (Answer #4)

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Romeo and Juliet is probably Shakespeare's most poetic drama because the entire play is written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter. While poetic, the play's lines are more like English speech since iambic pentameter is the regular cadence of English, making the sound of the lines more appealing to audiences. In addition to the regular cadence, there are two sonnets in the play, also in rhymed iambic pentameter. The first sonnet occurs in the opening Prologue that precedes Act I, Here is the first quatrain: 

Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean

The other sonnet occurs with the first close encounter of Romeo and Juliet in Scene 5 of the first act. Each says seven lines employing the metaphor of their being like pilgrims. Along with the lilting verse, Shakespeare adds light/dark imagery, fanciful metaphors, alliteration, puns, and other literary devices to produce a powerful romantic tragedy. 


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