In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what are some ways that Juliet uses imagery? 

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what are some ways that Juliet uses imagery?


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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The imagery used in this play, in particular the imagery found in the dialogue of Romeo and Juliet themselves, is effective in illustrating themes of love and destiny. Romeo and Juliet describe one another with imagery related to the sun, moon and stars, emphasizing the "star-crossed lovers" themes with images that reflective timeless, eternal qualities of celestial bodies. The emphasis on the imagery of day and night also reiterates the theme of urgency and the importance of time (which ultimately causes hasty decisions and missed communication, leading to the lovers' untimely deaths).

While Romeo describes Juliet in terms related to the sun and brightness, Juliet's descriptions of Romeo often relate to night, darkness, the moon and stars. When Romeo comes to see her by climbing the wall of the orchard, he begins to swear his love by the moon, and she interrupts him and says "swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable." She is also hinting that she does not want to see him in secret, and would like for them to be able to be together openly, in the light of day. Yet this is impossible, due to the family feud, and they accept the necessary secrecy of their love.

Juliet also describes Romeo in terms of the night sky when she awaits his arrival on the night of their planned elopement, in her famous soliloquy of Act III that begins "Gallop apace, ye fiery-footed steeds." She mentions Phoebus and Phaeton ("such a driver as Phaeton would whip you to the west"), characters from mythology, and this suggests she is looking at constellations in the sky. She refers to night as a "sober-suited matron all in black" and a comforting maternal presence (unlike her own parents, who forbid her to see Romeo). Since their families are unsupportive, the lovers must rely upon nature to protect them. This theme continues in this speech, and she personifies the night saying "Give me my Romeo," and she says that upon Romeo's death she wants the night (its darkness related to the realm of death) to "cut him out in little stars" so that "all the world will be in love with night."

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Romeo and Juliet

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