Which figure of speech--an oxymoron, allusion, a simile, metaphor or pun--is used in this excerpt from Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? ROMEO: O, she doth teach the torches to burn...

Which figure of speech--an oxymoron, allusion, a simile, metaphor or pun--is used in this excerpt from Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

ROMEO: 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!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer is simile. 

The simile in these poetically stirring lines or Romeo and Juliet forms a comparison between Juliet ["she"] and "a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear." In other words, Juliet is so stunning that her beauty is as noticeable as a jewel set against the darkness of an Ethiopian's ear.

A simile is a comparison between two dissimilar things or persons through the use of a specific word of comparison such as like or as, (than, or resembles are also used sometimes). The comparison must be between two essentially unlike things. In this way a simile, like all figures of speech helps readers to perceive things in vivid, new ways.

There are other figures of speech in this passage from Act I, however, simile is the only one fitting the choices given. For instance, the first line has two examples of alliteration with the /t/ "teach the torches" and /b/ of "burn bright"; also, "cheek of night" is personification.

 

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