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In Romeo and Juliet, what are some literary devices in Act II, Scene 2, Lines 90-110?

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popished | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted April 29, 2009 at 2:24 PM via web

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In Romeo and Juliet, what are some literary devices in Act II, Scene 2, Lines 90-110?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Along with the literary devices of a play on words in lines 100 and 101, involving several meanings of the word "strange," and a personification in line 109 involving the "inconstant moon" in "her circled orb," there are also two metaphors and an allusion. All of these literary devices are of the category of literary technique and are up to the writers choice and preference. The other category of literary device is a literary element, which are elements that are common to all fiction and not optional or left to the writers choice (of course, how literary elements are implemented is up to the writer, e.g., postmodernists fragmenting character description and time).

Juliet says the "mask of night" is on her face, and this is a metaphor. A metaphor compares things that are quite unlike each other to make the nature of one of them more vividly understood or vividly imagined. Juliet has just returned from a masque ball where the guests wore masks and she is now saying the night covers and hides her face from Romeo's vision in the same way that her mask had earlier concealed her face from his view during the ball. Her tone in this line is confiding and sincere.

Later, Romeo says the moon "tips with silver" the fruit trees in the garden, and this is also a metaphor. An important fact about metaphors--which compare unlike things to make a point--is that they are figurative speech. This means they are not written or uttered in literal speech: they mean something other than what is actually said. Therefore, Romeo isn't saying that someone has melted silver and dribbled it across the tree leaves. What he means by this metaphor is that to love struck romantic's eye, the moonlight on the leaves appears as shimmeringly lovely as if silver were tipping the leaves.

Juliet says that at "lover's perjuries, / ...Jove laughs...." This reference to the Greek god Jove, who was chief among gods, is a literary technique called Classical allusion. In this technique, a reference is made to a person, place, object or event from classical Greek, Roman, Byzantine, etc. history or mythology. The assumption of the writer is that the reader or audience is well acquainted with the object alluded to, in this case the god Jove.

In earlier eras, most readers were familiar with Classical references and therefore could readily grasp the larger point being made with few words in Classical allusions. The objective of an allusion--whether Classical, movie, Biblical or otherwise--is to tell a great deal about something in very few words. This is accomplished by alluding to--or referencing--something very well known. For instance, if we were to say someone was the Batman type, most readers would have a very vivid mental image of just what a Batman type of man is. When Juliet invokes Jove's name when talking about Romeo's faithfulness, she is expressing her knowledge that people who are in love today are out of love tomorrow, and the gods take no notice of these sins, laughing at them. It's much quicker to say "Jove laughs."

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