In the play Romeo and Juliet, what type of figurative language is used in the quote "Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir?"

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aleabalck eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is an example of personification. Here, "Death" is spoken of as if it were a person; Lord Capulet gives this line to reference Juliet's assumed death on her wedding day, not realizing she is only showing effects of a sleeping potion. The line, "Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir," is spoken passionately. This passionately spoken line emphasizes Lord Capulet's despair when he believes his heir – and, consequently, reason for living – is gone. 

By personifying Death, Shakespeare gives power to the assumed finality of Juliet's actions and emphasizes her role as a pawn in her powerful family's game. Juliet's death, thought of as a marriage to Death ("Death is my son-in-law), all Lord Capulet would have passed on through Juliet is gone. His "heir" is destroyed since Death offers no prosperity. With the line "Death is my heir," Lord Capulet asserts all he has is now Death's and there is no point in living. Since Juliet is assumed to be gone, Death now owns all that once belonged to Lord Capulet.

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Romeo and Juliet

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