In Romeo and Juliet, how does Shakespeare use figurative language to show the relationship between Juliet and Friar Laurence?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet's relationship with Friar Laurence is the same relationship a parishioner has with a spiritual guide. A good place to see this is in the scene where Juliet goes to Friar Laurence for help getting out of her upcoming marriage to Paris.

When they begin interacting with each other in this scene, the first instance of figurative language we see is alliteration. Alliteration is found in Juliet's line, "past hope, past cure, past help!" with the repetition of the consonant sound "p." This repetition serves to emphasize Juliet's despair, but it is also significant that it is Friar Laurence she is turning to in her moment of despair. With Romeo gone, the "god of her idolatry," Juliet is now forced to turn to true religion for help and comfort, in the form of Friar Laurence. The repetition in Juliet's line sounds as much like a prayer as it does a plea.

Friar Laurence even continues the repetition in his reply to Juliet with his repetition of the word "past" in the line, "it strains me past the compass of my wits." This repetition serves to unify Friar Laurence and Juliet in a bond brought on by their despair; both are equally concerned because both know that they will be committing a grave sin if they allow the second marriage to take place.

A second form of figurative language, called antimetabole, can be seen in Juliet's second speech to Friar Laurence, in which she declares, "If, in thy wisdom, thou canst give no help, do thou but call my resolution wise." This is a form of antimetabole because it is a form of repetition in reverse order. Juliet begins this line by referring to Friar Laurence as wise, and any solution he can offer as wise, and ends by calling her own solution as wise. Since the words "solution" and "wise"/"wisdom" appear in both the beginning and the end of this line, the sentence is a form of antimetabole. The repetition of "solution" and "wisdom" serves to affirm that Juliet needs Friar Laurence's advise in her time of despair.

Hence, the figurative language we see in this scene serves to reiterate that, at this time, Juliet's relationship with Friar Laurence is that of a parishioner in need of a spiritual guide.