I need an example of hyperbole and classical allusion in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet.

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luminos's profile pic

luminos | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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A classical allusion is a reference to classical literature or mythology, where the word "classical" is traditionally understood to indicate the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Hyperbole is a figure of speech that deliberately and obviously exaggerates something for effect.

In the first act of the play, Benvolio suggests that Rosaline will prove amenable to Romeo's suit of love. Romeo responds by making an allusion to Roman mythology. He speaks both of Cupid (the god of love) and Diana (virgin goddess of the hunt). He says of Rosaline that   

… she'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit;
And, in strong proof of chastity well arm'd,
From love's weak childish bow she lives unharm'd.

Cupid shoots people with arrows that make them fall in love. Diana is sworn never to marry. The allusions are apt because Rosaline "hath forsworn to love."

We may reasonably suspect Romeo of engaging in hyperbole here. He suggests that Rosaline rejects love in general, which is likely a big exaggeration. She rejects Romeo, which isn't the same thing as being committed to the rejection of all lovers (as was the case for the goddess Diana).

But there are other cases of hyperbole in the first act, as when Romeo suggests that because of his love sickness he is "bound more than a madman is," imprisoned, "whipped and tormented."

At one point, in Scene 4, Romeo says his emotions are so low he can't physically move. 

I have a soul of lead

So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

Clearly, this is a gross exaggeration since Romeo is talking and walking around. 

Another example of hyperbole is when Capulet suggests that his party is going to feature ladies that are so dazzling, they are like stars so bright they make the dark sky light:

At my poor house look to behold this night

Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Hyperbole is "exaggeration for the sake of emphasis." In Act I, scene 1, there is hyperbole when Sampson says, "I will tear down the castle wall of any man or maid of Montague’s."

You will find a classical allusion in the same scene. After the Prince has warned the Capulets and Montagues to stop disturbing the peace or else, Montague says how glad he is that Romeo wasn't involved. He goes on to say that Romeo has not been himself; he is depressed because he has lost his lady love. Then Montague says:

But just as soon as the sun (which should make you happy)
Moves well above the horizon, as the Goddess of Morning Aurora
Draws back the shady bed curtains from her bed,
My depressed son runs away from the light and comes home,
And locks himself in his bedroom,


In Roman mythology, Aurora is the goddess of dawn who brings the light of day. Keep looking. I'm sure you can find more.

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ashlen-needs-help's profile pic

ashlen-needs-help | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

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Act II, Sc. 2--Balcony scene
This will give you metaphor, similes, personification, and allusion.
Act I, Sc. 4--Mercutio, Romeo, and the guys are going to the Capulet party. Puns, personification, allusion

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