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What are some examples of dark and light motifs in Romeo and Juliet?

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babygurl123 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2009 at 9:32 AM via web

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What are some examples of dark and light motifs in Romeo and Juliet?

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charcunning | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted January 10, 2010 at 1:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Definitely re-read the balcony scene. While you are reading it, remember that Juliet is up in the balcony and that Romeo is down below and hidden among the trees and bushes. Essentially, Juliet is in the light, and Romeo is in the dark. Also, look at the words that Romeo uses to describe Juliet that have references to light like "bright angel".

Note any words like "brightness" and "shine" or any references to the moon and the sun and the stars and how they shine.

Now think about what the dark and the light may represent. What might this express about the situation in which the lovers have found themselves? What might this say about how the lovers feel about each other?

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

Posted January 11, 2010 at 2:44 AM (Answer #2)

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            As the play progresses, the demise of the two lovers becomes more apparent.  While in Capulet’s orchard after Juliet’s discussion of the morning lark, Romeo says, “More light and light-more dark and dark our woes”(3.5.36).  After the death of Mercutio and Tybalt, the weight of the relationship between the two lovers has become apparent.   Romeo realizes the path of the two lovers is abysmal – it has been predetermined that both lives will tragically end.  Another example of dark/light imagery can be inferred from the Capulet tomb which represents a site which consumes all life but, also, is place of rebirth.   At the churchyard in Act 5 scene 3, Romeo says while opening the tomb, “Why I descend into this bed of death is partly to behold my lady’s face”(5.3.28-30).   For Romeo, this burial site is the end – truly, a black hole.   Unbeknownst to Romeo(dramatic irony), Juliet is still alive awaiting his return.  The dark imagery represented by the burial site, and the light imagery depicted by Juliet’s presence, a desire to start her new life with Romeo once she awakens.  Throughout the play’s progression, longer shadows appear as unsuspected circumstances and consequences find themselves in the lives of the two lovers.          

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