In Act 1, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, what are 3 things to which Romeo compares Juliet? What does his language tell us about his feelings?

2 Answers

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Being a true romantic lover, Romeo uses fine figurative language to compare Juliet to a jewel, a dove, and even a shrine.  First, Romeo uses simile when he says, "It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night / Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear."  Juliet, then, is therefore beautiful as well as high-class.  Second, Romeo uses simile again when he says, "So shows a snowy dove tropping with crows / As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows."  I suppose that Paris is the main crow here, which makes me laugh.  Juliet, of course, is the dove:  beautiful, pure, white, and heavenly.  Finally, it isn't until Romeo actually speaks to Juliet that he approaches metaphor:  "If I profane with my unworthiest hand  / This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this: / My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand / To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss."  Now Romeo approaches the spiritual using metaphor in calling Juliet an actual "shrine."  Juliet, then, is more than just heavenly, now she is holy.  It is this last comparison that approaches the answer to your second question in that Romeo's actual first conversation with Juliet is largely a metaphor of religious pilgrims going to a holy shrine to pay homage:  so does Romeo pay homage to Juliet.  Romeo reveals, then, that his feelings are not merely physical, but spiritual as well.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Romeo employs the language of courtly love when he sees Juliet for the first time in Act I, Scene 5, and he is smitten by her beauty.

At the masque for Juliet Capulet, Romeo, who has sneaked in, sees her across the room, and he asks a servant who she is, but the servant does not know. Smitten with her beauty, Romeo says,

Oh, 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--
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!" (1.5.42-45)

(1) In this passage Romeo speaks in the courtly praise of emotions, and he compares Juliet, first of all, to a jewel in the night that shines against the darkness. (1.5.44)

(2) Further, when Romeo approaches Juliet in order to touch her, he places his palm against hers: "palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss." Romeo compares Juliet to a "Good pilgrim" as he addresses her. (1.5.92)

(3) At the end of this passage spoken between Romeo and Juliet, Romeo kisses Juliet, calling her "dear saint." (1.5.102) 

Clearly, Romeo is infatuated with Juliet.