In Act IV, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, what kind of imagery is Shakespeare using to describe Juliet's faked death?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One of the best images used to describe Juliet's faked death is spoken by the Nurse to portray what Juliet looks like at this moment. The Nurse describes Juliet as laying on her bed still dressed from yesterday as we see in the line, "What, dressed, and in your clothes, and down again?" (13). In this line the words "dressed" and "clothes" serve as images to portray how Juliet looks to the observer at that moment.

Other imagery to describe how Juliet looks in her faked death are spoken by her father. Lord Capulet announces that, "She's cold, / Her blood is settled, her joints are stiff" (28-30). The image "cold" and the image of her "joints" being "stiff" tell us what Juliet feels like to the touch. Only deceased individual's lose body heat and feel cold to the touch. Likewise, individual's who have already been dead for a number of hours become difficult to move and feel stiff to the touch. Finally, the image of her "blood" being settled further tells us what she looks like. In death, the person's blood ceases circulating and the person looks extremely pale.

There is also figurative language in the form of similes and metaphors used to further portray imagery of death. Juliet's father uses a simile to declare that,

Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field. (31-32)

The image of "untimely frost" not only again paints the image of how  cold a person feels in death it also paints the emotions of Juliet's observers.  Juliet's faked death was not only sudden, she is far to young to die in her sleep without any known cause. Also the image of the "sweetest flower" paints the image of how beautiful Juliet was, but also tells us how her family felt about her. She was not only the most beautiful woman, she was also a wonderful or "sweet" person. Likewise, Capulet's metaphor describing Juliet as the beautiful bride of death who was "deflowered" by death, "Flower as she was, deflowered by him," also serves to not only portray Juliet's beauty, even in death, but her families' emotions about her death (40)

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