In this excerpt from Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which figure of speech does Romeo use repeatedly to describe how he feels about Rosaline? Here's much to do with hate, but more...

In this excerpt from Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which figure of speech does Romeo use repeatedly to describe how he feels about Rosaline?

Here's much to do with hate, but more with love. 
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create! 
O heavy lightness! serious vanity! 
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms! 
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, 
sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! 
This love feel I, that feel no love in this. 

Expert Answers
rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This passage is chock full of oxymorons. An oxymoron is when two words that have different meanings, or connotations, are combined together for literary effect. In this passage, Romeo describes his love for Rosalind as "brawling love," and "loving hate." These, especially the latter, are obviously oxymorons, because their meanings and connotations are very different. Romeo uses them both to comment on the fray that has just taken place between his kinsmen and the Capulets, but also to describe his unrequited and therefor bitter love for Rosalind. He elaborates with more oxymorons, comparing love to a "feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health," and so on. His point is that love, while beautiful, can also cause extreme pain and sadness, which is especially the case with him. Taken in this light, this passage can be read as foreshadowing the rest of the play--the love shared by Romeo and Juliet is indeed beautiful, but it is also, in the context of the feud between their two families, destructive and tragic. Shakespeare uses oxymorons to underline this duality.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo also uses and repeats anaphora: "O." Anaphora is the use of a word repeatedly, often (though not always) at the beginning of a sentence, for emotional emphasis or rhetorical effect. For example, Shakespeare uses "this" repeatedly at the beginning of sentences in Act II, scene 1 of Richard II.

From the start of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare characterizes Romeo as an impulsive, emotional, mooning teenager in love with the idea of love. His father is worried about Romeo's tendency to mope about and wander around at all hours of the night and stay in a darkened room by day.

Romeo in this passage is pining and going through tortures of unrequited love (or lust) for Rosaline. The "O"s emphasize the exaggerated emotionality of Romeo's over-the-top teenaged angst. There's a comic quality to his histrionics which the moaning "Os" accentuate, especially as he will soon completely abandon the lady he is currently dying for in favor of his head-over-heels love for Juliet. 

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Romeo and Juliet

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