How does Shakespeare provide comic relief in "Romeo and Juliet"?What are some examples of literary devices used by characters to create comedic relief?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the best example is a pun.  Puns are plays on language that are used intentionally for laughs.  In this play in particular there is plenty of raunchy language, but there are also other puns.  Consider this exchange between Romeo and Mercutio: 


I dreamt a dream to-night.


And so did I.


Well, what was yours?(55)


That dreamers often lie.


In bed asleep, while they do dream things true. (enotes pdf. p. 27)

In this case, the play on the word “lie” is humorous and clever.  Dreams “lie” as dreamers “lie.”  While this is funny it is actually thematically important, as it stresses the lies in dreams.  Romeo and Juliet choose to pin their hopes on a dream, with tragic results.

Here's a link to the text.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reread any lines by the Nurse and you will find many examples of humor, as she is one of the major elements of comic relief in this play. Her lines often use the literary device of repetition to create humor; I also recall her use of a metaphor to compare Romeo to Paris. She calls Romeo a "dishclout," though Juliet is not amused. One other spot where you will certainly find plenty of comic relief using literary devices is when Romeo is moping around and wallowing in his unrequited love for Rosaline. Plenty of comedic material in his speech with Benvolio, and most of it uses figurative language. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Nurse is certainly the most bawdy of the characters and her sexual innuendoes delight the groundlings, especially. Then, too, her frivolousness in the most serious of moments is annoying to Juliet, but amusing to the audience. The scene in which she enters with her servant Peter and Mercutio jokes that her layers of clothes are sails is great comic relief.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post #2, Mercutio definitely contributes some comic relief to the play.  As a foil to Romeo's serious side, Mercutio's witty word play and use of puns often pokes fun at his friend's serious views of love.


ncumming18 | Student

I am watching West Side Story for school, can you tell me some things on how it relates to Romeo and Juliet? I have 8 but i need 10 so 2 more?


florine | Student

    Let's notice that the first half of the play is full of those comic sequences that  mainly rest upon punning. Yet, as Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, very few such passages can be found in the second half from 3.2 onwards. There is still quite a lot of punning involved but it is mostly in accordance with the tragic mood. Yet, in spite of the tragic episodes that are the prerequisites of the unknotting in the final scene, some of this punning can still be associated with comedy: the Nurse's "cotquean" 4.4.7 which is in keeping with Capulet's "a jealous-hood" 4.4.13, the musicians' wordplay linked to wit and witticism...

gamelovagamelova | Student

beside puns

gamelovagamelova | Student

thnks guys , but do u know any other literry device like metaphore or smilie or personification that are used to create coedic relief

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Romeo and Juliet

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