In Act 5 of Romeo and Juliet, what are some examples of literary elements?

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In Act 5 of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," there are a significant number of metaphors and similes used, along with other literary elements like personificationirony and imagery.

In the opening lines of the scene, Romeo is discussing the pleasing nature of his dreams and commenting that he believes good news is coming his way: "If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep/My dreams presage some joyful news at hand," (Act 5, scene 1, lines 1-2). This is an example of personification.

While considering how to get his hands on some poison, Romeo ruminates about the poor apothecary's shop he's recently discovered. The description of the man and the store are chock-full of imagery:

In tatt'red weeds, with overwhelming brows

Culling of simples. Meager were his looks,

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

An alligator stuffed, and other skins

Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes,

Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,

Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses

Were thinly scattered to make up a show. (lines 39-48)

Their discussion of the poison contains a few metaphors. In Romeo's request: "A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear/As will disperse itself through all the veins..." (lines 60-61); in the apothecary's response: "...but Mantua's law/Is death to any he that utters them," (lines 66-67); and later in Romeo's comment about the payment, "There is thy gold-- worse poison to men's souls," (line 80) it is evident.

In scene 3, Romeo uses simile to explain how passionate he is about his wish to die and lie with Juliet:

The time and my intents are savage-wild,

More fierce and more inexorable far

Than empty tigers or roaring sea (lines 37-39).

Of course, the events that take place between Romeo and Paris in scene 3 are ironic because Paris believes Romeo is at the tomb to desecrate it, and as such, threatens to kill him. Unbeknownst to him, to die is the main reason Romeo came to the tomb, and Paris is going to be the one killed!

Literary elements are ample throughout the Act and the play.

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Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is arguably his most poetic drama as abundant light/dark imagery and figurative language enhance each act.

  • In Act V, the first scene opens with two metaphors: "the flattering truth of sleep" [a metaphor for happy dreams that seem real] in line 1, and "My bosom's lord" [a metaphor for heart] in line 3. Also, "love's shadow" [a metaphor for dreams of love] in line 11.
  • When Bathasar, Romeo's man, reports that Juliet lies in "Capels' monument," Romeo is struck by this fatal news. He shouts to the sky, calling upon fate, using the literary device of apostrophe, "Then I defy you, stars!" (5.1.24)
  • Another example of apostrophe follows shortly afterwards as Romeo addresses fate again, "O mischief, thou art swift (5.1.37)
  • Later, Romeo goes to an apothecary who appears penurious; Romeo tells the man, "Famine is in thy cheeks," using personification of "Famine." (5.2.66)
  • An example of oxymoron occurs soon thereafter in the next scene as Friar Laurence exclaims, "Unhappy fortune!" (5.2.18) Another oxymoron occurs with his calling Juliet, "Poor living corpse" (5.2.30)
  • After Paris enters the tomb of Juliet in order to place flowers, he hears someone approach and uses synecdoche ["foot" for the entire person] : "What cursed foot wanders this way tonight?"
  • In Scene 3, Romeo speaks with a metaphor of descending into "this bed of death" (5.3.33)
  • Later, he uses personification in the phrase "hungry churchyard" (5.3.40)
  • Then, there is alliteration: "I'll hide me hereabout" with the /h/ (5.3.49)
  • "His looks I fear, and his intents I doubt"( is an example of parallelism. (5.3.50)
  • Death is given personification as an "abhorred monster" that "keeps/Thee here in dark to be his paramour." (5.3.113)
  • A metaphor is used, "death’s pale flag" (5.3.105) 
  • Later, a simile is employed, ...This sight of death is as a bell/That warns my old age to a sepulcher." Here the sight (of death) is compared to a bell, ringing in warning. (5.3.206)
  • In addressing the Capulets and the Montagues, Prince Escalus employs oxymoron and personification as he addresses them, "That Heaven finds means to kill your joys with love." (5.3.310)
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There are quite a few examples of metaphors and similes in Act 5; for example, a simile from Scene 1 is "...that the trunk may be discharged of breath/As violently as hasty powder fired/Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb"--this is where Romeo is buying poison from the apothecary, asking him to be able to die as quickly as the powder shot from a cannon.

In Scene 3, Paris enters Juliet's tomb and calls her a "sweet flower", which would be a metaphor, comparing Juliet to a flower, and without using the words "like" or "as".

There are also examples of puns, personification, onomatopoeia, etc. in Act 5 as well.

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