In Act 1 Scene 5 how does Romeo praise Juliet?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to Romeo's remarks above, as he first encounters Juliet, he speaks to her in a religious metaphor in the first quatrain of a sonnet that conveys the theme of Romantic love:

If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

First, Romeo adresses Juliet with the metaphor "This holy shrine," and personifies his lips as two "holy pilgrims" that wish to worship the shrine by touching and kissing.  Juliet demurs, thinking his advances too strong; she suggests that the pilgrims' hands can also touch the saints' shrines, and such a touch is equal to a kiss.  Undeterred, Romeo then calls Juliet "dear saint" and asks her if he can do what pilgrims' lips do in prayer, and he steals a kiss.  Then, in a final metaphor, Romeo suggests another kiss that, by her kiss, his "sin is purged,'' thus continuing the metaphor of a saint who can obtain for a person the forgiveness of sin.

lit24 | Student

In Act I sc. 5 Romeo surreptitiously enters Capulet's house in disguise to take part in the banquet which Capulet is hosting. Romeo is smitten as soon as he see Juliet and lavishes hyperbolic praise on her:

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

1. He praises her by saying that she appears more radiant than the brightly lit torches in the banqueting hall: "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!"

2. It is night and her fair complexioned face glows in the dark like a rare and costly precious stone  in an ethiopian's ear: "Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear."

3. She is the most beautiful of all the girls at the banquet. Romeo says she is like a snow white dove among the crows: "So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows."

4. He sums up his praise for Juliet by remarking that till tonight he never knew the meaning of true beauty:"For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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