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What is happening at the moment of this declaration? from Romeo and Juliet: ROMEO O,...

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david94102 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 14, 2010 at 9:17 AM via web

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What is happening at the moment of this declaration?

from Romeo and Juliet:

ROMEO
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 14, 2010 at 9:22 AM (Answer #1)

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Literally, what is happening is that Romeo is seeing Juliet for the first time.  He is at the ball at the Capulets' home and he sees Juliet.  He is immediately struck by her beauty and starts saying this stuff, admiring her.

On a more figurative level, what he is doing is using imagery to express his feelings about her.  He is contrasting her with all the other women in the room.  He is using imagery in which he describes her using various words that have to do with light and light colors.  He is contrasting her with the other women -- he describes them using dark words.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 15, 2010 at 11:13 AM (Answer #2)

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In beautiful couplets of rhymed iambic pentameter, the words of Romeo are replete with the light/dark imagery of Shakespeare's play.  As is typical of the main characters, their words are in verse with figurative language, meant for the appreciation of the upper classes of Elizabethan England.  It is interesting, too, that Romeo declares that Juliet teaches the torches to burn bright as torches have led him the way to the Capulet house.

Starstruck by the beauty of Juliet, whose "true beauty" he has not seen "till this night," Romeo resolves to meet "yonder lady," not realizing that she is the child of his father's mortal enemy.  Also, Romeo is determined to touch her hand, for he thinks that he is now truly in love:

Did my heart love till now? (1.5.54)

In the musical South Pacific, which is a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, at this moment of seeing Juliet, the male lead sings the famous song "Some Enchanted Evening" with the lyrics continuing,

You will meet a stranger...and suddenly you will know....

This is, indeed, how Romeo feels at this moment in the play.

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