In Act I, scene 5, what is Romeo and Juliet's love affair metaphorically compared to?William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his fateful move, as Tybalt boils with anger over his appearance at the Capulet house, Romeo advances toward Juliet in Act I, Scene 5.  Speaking in religiously figurative language, Romeo calls himself a pilgrim and Juliet a saint in a sonnet in which they each share seven lines of iambic pentameter with a ending couplet that rhymes.  Using this extended Christian metaphor, Romeo is able to persuade Juliet to kiss him when he replies to her line, "Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake" by kissing her as he pronounces the rhyming couplet,

The move not while my prayer's effect I take

Thus from my lips by thine my sin is purged. (I,v,111-112)

However, by using this religious language, Romeo fringes on blasphemy with his speech since in the Anglican Church, which ruled Elizabethan England, to worship a saint, as Romeo expresses, was considered blasphemy, a kind of worship of an idol.  Furthermore, in the next scene, Juliet herself also commits blasphemy when she calls Romeo "the god of her idolatry" (II,i,156)  Thus, in these two passages, the love of Romeo and Juliet is opposed theologically, in addition to the social structures of family, honor, and civil order.  Small wonder that they are "star-crossed" lovers!

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Romeo and Juliet

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