In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2, which of these sentences is NOT an example of apostrophe?
A. "Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die..."
B. "To prison, eyes, ne'er look on liberty..."
C. "O, what a beast was I to chide at him!"
D. "Your tributary drops belong to woe..."
E. "Both you and I, for Romeo is exil'd."
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Apostrophe is a moment in literature in which some abstract idea is personified and addressed as if it were actually present. One example Dr. Wheeler gives us of apostrophe is taken from Shakespeare's play King Lear in which King Lear says the line, "Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend" ("Literary Terms and Definitions"). In this line, Shakespeare's King Lear is addressing the concept of ingratitude as if it were a living thing with emotions and a heart and also as if "ingratitude" were standing before him in the shape of a person.
It's helpful to see the first line in question in context to determine if it is an example of apostrophe. Juliet's whole statement begins, "Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-brow'd night; / Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die..." (III.ii.21-22). As we can see, here, she is addressing night, an abstract concept, as a person and demanding that night give her her Romeo. Therefore, this line is a perfect example of apostrophe.
The next, "To prison, eyes; ne'er look on liberty!" is a little more subtle to see as apostrophe because eyes are not an abstract concept like night or ingratitude (61). However, in light of what she says in the lines just above this, what she is saying is that her eyes will close in death if it is true that Romeo has killed Tybalt. Therefore, when Juliet next says "To prison, eyes," she is commanding her eyes shut in the eternal prison of death. Since Juliet is addressing her eyes as if they are a present person, this too is an example of apostrophe and not not just an example of personification.
The same is true of the line referred to in answer choice D; although, again, it helps to see this line in context. Juliet's full sentence is, "Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring! / Your tributary drops belong to woe" (107-08). As we can see, even here, like her eyes, Juliet is addressing her tears as if they are real people and commanding them back into her eyes, making this another perfect example of apostrophe.
It is even necessary to see answer choice E in full context as well in order to determine if it is an example of apostrophe. Juliet's lines here begin, "Poor ropes, you are beguil'd, / Both you and I, for Romeo is exil'd" (137-38). What she means here is that both she and the ropes have been tricked into believing that Romeo is coming that night for their secret wedding night, but the reality is that he has been exiled. Since, again, she is addressing the ropes as a person, this is another example of apostrophe.
The only line among the answer choices that is not an example of apostrophe is the line in which Juliet is addressing herself. In the line, "O, what a beast was I to chide at him!," Juliet is saying to herself that it was terrible of her to have reproached Romeo and judged him for having killed Tybalt (100). Hence, she is addressing herself as a person, and since she is both truly a person and truly present, this is not an example of apostrophe.
Apostrophe in literary terms.
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