Is the quote "O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!" personification? 

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This line from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”

happens in Act I, Scene V. Romeo and his band have entered the Capulet’s house and are looking at the people as they talk and dance. Suddenly, without any warning at all, Shakespeare has Romeo notice a beautiful girl dancing. He asks a servingman who the girl is. When the servingman says he doesn’t know, Romeo responds with the line “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”

Is this line personification? Personification is the attribution of human qualities to something that is not human. In this case, we are talking about torches, which are obviously not human.

So, what human characteristic is Shakespeare giving the torches? The ability to learn. He is saying that Juliet can “teach” them to burn bright. Learning is a human act, not something a torch can do.

Shakespeare’s point here is that Juliet’s beauty is so great that she could be considered the source of torches’ bright light. She is the one that taught the torches to create that  beautiful light.


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