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Who says this quote in Romeo and Juliet?  O, she doth teach the torches to burn...

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karlaromero | eNoter

Posted June 2, 2013 at 11:23 PM via iOS

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Who says this quote in Romeo and Juliet

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! 
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night 
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.

and what is its significance?

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handbooktoliterature | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM (Answer #1)

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In act 1 scene 5, Romeo first glimpses Juliet across the dance floor of Capulet's masquerade party. It is one of the most famous moments of love at first sight, or at least attraction at first sight. 

He begins with the aforementioned lines:

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! 
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night 
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear (Shakespeare 44-46).

Romeo begins a long line of figurative language talking of Juliet's beauty. Basically, he is coming up with creative ways to say she is hot. In fact she is so hot, she can teach torches how to burn and so beautiful that she shines against the night like a jewel in an exotic woman's earring. 

This is significant because Romeo had been moping around in depression from being scorned by Rosaline. He only decides to go to the party because Rosaline is going to be there. However, showing how young emotions can be excessive and ever changing, he goes from completely heart broken about Rosaline to head over heels for Juliet in a moment. Thus begins a roller coaster of emotional immaturity for the star cross'd Romeo and Juliet.

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