What is an example of onomatopoeia in Romeo and Juliet? It doesn't matter the act... -Thanks:)

3 Answers | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives the first definition of "onomatopoeia" as:

:  the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss)

In Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1, Benvolio tells Montague how the fiery Tybalt had gotten involved in the servants' fracas:

He swung about his head and cut the winds,

Who, nothing hurt withal, hissed him in scorn.

Also in Act 1, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, we find this exchange where Benvolio asks Romeo who it is he loves:

Romeo: What, shall I groan and tell thee?

Benvolio: Groan? Why, no. But sadly tell me who.

"Hissed" and "Groan" are good examples of onomatopoeia.

Sources:
favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Early in the play, Montague asks Benvolio to check in with Romeo and try to find out what's been bothering him so much.  Benvolio says that he saw Romeo early that morning, before sunrise, walking in the sycamore grove.  Lord Montague, Romeo's father, replies,

Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs. (1.1.122-124)
The word "sigh" is a somewhat soft example of onomatopoeia.  If you speak it, you can hear its breathiness and the way the word sort of runs out of air, as an actual sigh would, rather than cutting off abruptly.
 
In addition, during Mercutio's Queen Mab speech, he employs a number of words that qualify as similarly soft examples: "Drums" (1.4.87), and "whip" (1.4.64).  If you say the word "drums" a few times, you can really hear how it sounds like what it describes. Likewise, "whip" sounds breathy at first, like a whip cutting the air, and then cuts off quickly as a whip does when he strikes something.
 
The more obvious examples of onomatopoeia, like those we associate with comic books or animal sounds, etc., would be a bit out of place in Shakespeare, but he does use these less obvious examples.
tyler-k's profile pic

tyler-k | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

I couldn't find my copy of the play, so I found a version of it online (linked below). Act IV Scene V has many references to sound. One onomatopoeia that I found interesting was Peter's quote:

"I'll re you, I'll fa you; do you note me?"

This is in reference to the solfege music notes. There are also many references to "silver sound" at the end of that scene. 

In Act V Scene III, Paris says:

"Or, wanting that, with tears distill'd by moans: The obsequies that I for thee will keep..."

The moans would be the onomatopoeia in this scenario.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,972 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question