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Why has Shakespeare used religious metaphors when Romeo and Juliet first speak in Romeo...

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heena07 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 6, 2012 at 3:23 PM via web

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Why has Shakespeare used religious metaphors when Romeo and Juliet first speak in Romeo and Juliet?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Romeo and Juliet is a story of young love.  Shakespeare uses religious imagery to reinforce the purity of their love, and how they are drawn together like pilgrims to a holy site.  He also wrote their conversation as a shared sonnet.

Romeo refers to Juliet’s hand as a “holy shrine” and comments that he is to “profane” it, his lips are “two blushing pilgrims” drawn to her kiss.  Juliet picks up on his religious imagery and makes witty jokes.  As long as he has “mannerly devotion” she is a saint that he, her pilgrim, can touch.

This conversation can also be thought of as a shared sonnet, and sonnets are often love poems.  In Shakespeare’s day, a boy would write a poem for the girl he loved.

Then move not while my prayer's effect I take. 
Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purg'd. (Act 1, Scene 5)

This is also a witty play on words, if one believes Romeo and Juliet are sinning.  Shakespeare wants to remind the audience that they are young, innocent children who are experiencing a pure love.

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