In Act 5 Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there are several literary devices used to describe the actions and emotions of Juliet’s death. The scene begins with Paris scattering flowers at Juliet’s closed tomb. Paris states, “Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew ” (V. iii. 13). Addressing Juliet as a “Sweet flower,” Paris uses a metaphor to describe the beauty of Juliet.
When Romeo enters the tomb and bids Balthasar to not spy on him, Romeo states, “The time and my intents are savage, wild, / More fierce and more inexorable far / Than empty tigers on the roaring sea” (V. iii. 41-43). This is an excellent example of metaphor because Romeo is comparing his plan and ferocity to hungry tigers trapped at sea. This demonstrates his ruthless determination to die for his love.
Once Balthasar moves aside and falls asleep, Romeo addresses Juliet’s tomb in a quote using an apostrophe, personification, and a metaphor. Romeo states, “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death, / Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth, / Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open, / And in despite I’ll cram thee with more food!” (V. iii. 51-54). An apostrophe is a figure of speech used when a speaker addresses an inanimate object, or as in this case, a tomb. The tomb is then personified to have a mouth that Romeo describes as having gobbled up Juliet’s body. Then, the entire quote is a metaphor because it is comparing the tomb to a figurative mouth that eats dead bodies.
Romeo dies and Juliet wakes moments later, where upon Friar Lawrence states, “Lady, come for that nest / Of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep” (V. iii. 163-164). By referring to Juliet’s sleep as a “nest of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep,” Friar Lawrence uses a metaphor to describe the tomb as a breeding site for disease, which figuratively amplifies the twisted fates of the lovers—by feigning her death, Juliet has inadvertently caused Romeo to take his own life.
When Juliet takes Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself, she exclaims, “O happy dagger, / This is thy sheath. / There rust and let me die” (V. iii. 182-183). This quote is an example of an oxymoron, apostrophe, and metaphor. The contradictory terms of “happy” and “dagger” serve as an oxymoron that accentuates Juliet’s willingness to take her own life. Further, by addressing the dagger, Juliet also uses an apostrophe. Finally, the quote is metaphorically comparing Juliet’s body to a knife sheath where the blade should enter and remain.