Alliteration In Romeo And Juliet

What is an example of alliteration and allusion in Act II, Scene 3 in Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The repeated use of initial sounds in a sentence, line or phrase (alliteration) is ordinarily employed to stress or emphasize an emotion, mood or tone. Friar Laurence uses alliteration in his monologue as in the following examples:

"And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels" (line 3)

"The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry" (line 6)

"slays all senses with the heart" (line 27)

"What early tongue so sweet saluteth me?" (line 32)

In line 3, the repetition of d emphasises the uncertain nature of darkness as it is overwhelmed by the light of morning. The repetition in line 6 emphasizes the strength of the early morning light - it is forceful and drives away night's wet cold. The alliteration of the s in line 27 illustrates the power a flower has - its poison could bring the heart and all other senses to a stop. The alliteration in line 32 emphasises the pleasant mood the Friar experiences on hearing Romeo's voice.

An allusion is a passing reference to a place, person, event or thing. The expectation is that the reader, viewer or listener would recognise its significance within context. 

Father Laurence mentions Titan in the line: 

"From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels:"

The Greek sun-god (Helios) was often referred to as Titan. The allusion here is a reference to the strength of the sun's heat, further supported by "fiery wheels". The wheels of Helios' chariot were believed to be made of fire. 

Friar Laurence also alludes to Saint Francis and Jesu Maria. The first is a reference to the patron saint of the friar's order (the Franciscans) and the second refers to Jesus Christ, son of the Virgin Mother.

Both references here are used by the friar to express his surprise at Romeo's sudden change of heart in that he has so easily dismissed Rosaline and has now fallen in love with Juliet.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds.  In Friar Lawrene’s initial speech in Act II, Scene 3, there are several examples of alliteration. 

The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry (p. 45)

The alliteration continues with “virtue itself turns vice,” “slays all senses,” and “where the worser” (p. 45).

The use of alliteration, along with rhyme, in this speech adds to its singsong and magical quality.  There are other examples in the witty repartee between the two, including Frair telling Romeo “What early tongue so sweet saluteth me?” and Romeo telling Friar “[you] bad'st me bury love” (p. 47).

The use of alliteration contributes to the dream-like, poetic quality of this scene.  It is subtle, so it does not read like a tongue twister.  There’s just enough to get the right effect without tripping an actor up trying to say the lines.

An allusion is a reference to some other work or subject, usually mythology.  In this case there are references to horticulture, and the allusions to the plant world are used to reinforce the idea that Friar Lawrence is cultivating Romeo and Juliet’s relationship.

For the full text, read here: