How does Shakespeare create an impression of "love at first site" in Act 1, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare especially creates the impression of love at first sight in Act 1, Scene 5 through his use of figurative language. Both Romeo's and Juliet's lines are rich in metaphors and similes.

To begin with, when Romeo first sees Juliet, he describes her by using a metaphor of a brightly burning torch, as we see in his line, "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!" (46). Only a torch that is burning more brightly, or something like a torch, can teach other torches to burn brightly. Therefore, Shakespeare is using this metaphor of comparing Juliet to a torch and saying that she burns even brighter to portray Juliet's beauty as brightly burning. An extended metaphor can be seen in their dialogue concerning holy shrines and pilgrims. Romeo likens Juliet to a holy shrine, saying that he will touch her hand to bless his own and the metaphor continues from there. The metaphor starts when Romeo says that once the dance is over, he will bless his "rude hand" with hers, as we see in his line, "The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand / And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand" (53). It becomes obvious that Romeo is likening Juliet to a holy shrine when he says to her, "If I profane with my unworthiest hand / This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this ...." (98). The metaphor of likening Juliet to a holy shrine portrays love at first sight because it portrays her beauty as holy.

Romeo also uses a simile to capture Juliet's beauty when he first sees her, showing us how he fell in love with her at first sight. Like the metaphor of the torch, the simile is used to portray her beauty shining very brightly. He likens her beauty to a "rich jewel," like a diamond," hanging in "an Ethiop's ear" (48). The contrast between the brightness of the jewel against dark skin portrays Juliet's beauty as very rich and bright, thereby also portraying Romeo's feelings of love at first sight.

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Romeo and Juliet

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