Simile In Romeo And Juliet Act 2

What are some similes and metaphors in act 2 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?


There are several similes in act 2 of Romeo and Juliet. In act 2, scene 3, for example, Friar Laurence compares the darkness of the night to a drunken person. In act 2, scene 4, Mercutio compares Romeo's love to an idiot, whereas the Nurse compares Romeo to an honest man.

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A simile is a comparison using the words like or as, while a metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words like or as. Act 2, in which the love between Romeo and Juliet quickly blooms and leads to a plan for marriage, is full of both similes and metaphors. A few are as follows.

In act 2, scene 1, Romeo, rhapsodizing over the heavenly beauty of Juliet, uses a simile to describe the glow in her cheeks as far brighter than starlight:

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars /As daylight doth a lamp.

In the following passage, an ecstatic Romeo uses both simile and metaphor:

O, speak again, bright angel!
For thou art As glorious to this night, being o'er my head,
As is a wingèd messenger of heaven
Unto the white, upturnèd, wondering eyes
Of mortals

"Bright angel" is a metaphor that compares Juliet to a heavenly being. Romeo also uses a simile when he compares Juliet's glories to how an angel looks flying overhead. This casts Juliet as an immortal being and describes the spatial distance between the two: Romeo is looking up at her from below.

Juliet shares Romeo's abilities with words. She matches his worship of her with worship of him, using a metaphor to compare him to a deity, calling him

the god of my idolatry

Juliet also uses a simile to express her distress at the seeming insubstantiality of their promises (or contract) to each other. She compares it to lightning, a bright light that appears for an instant and is gone:

I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be

In act 2, scene 3, Friar Laurence is quite poetic as morning breaks:

The gray­ eyed morn smiles on the frowning night, Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path

He uses personification—a form of metaphor that compares an inanimate object to a person—when he likens dawn to a gray-eyed person smiling. He also employs a metaphor when he compares darkness to a drunkard reeling away from view.

In act 2, scene 4, Romeo and Mercutio exchange word play that shows that Mercutio is far behind on the status of Romeo's love life. Mercutio, thinking that Romeo is still pining for Rosaline as he was the night before, uses a simile when he says that his friend seems tired

like a dried herring.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 2, 2021
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In act 2, scene 3, Friar Laurence, in his first soliloquy, remarks that the morning is replacing the night, indicating to the audience that the scene is taking place at dawn. Friar Laurence says that

fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path,

meaning that the darkness of the night is giving way to the light of the day, much as a drunk man might step out of another man's path. This simile ironically foreshadows Romeo's entry a few moments later. He has been up all night, drunk as it were with the love he feels for Juliet.

In act 2, scene 4, Mercutio gently teases Romeo when he says that Romeo's love is

like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.

The implication of this simile is that love makes Romeo into an idiot ("a great natural"), who runs all over the place as if utterly confused, looking for a place to hide his love (his "bauble") from others, as if that love were a tremendously unique and precious thing that other people might want to steal from him. Mercutio is light-heartedly pointing out how ridiculous Romeo becomes when he thinks he is in love.

Also in act 2, scene 4, there is another simile when the Nurse, speaking to Juliet, says that Romeo is "like an honest gentleman." It's interesting here that the Nurse does not say that R0meo is an honest gentleman. The word "like" only compares him to an honest gentleman, implying that perhaps the Nurse is not completely convinced by Romeo.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 2, 2021
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Both similes and metaphors are types of analogies. An analogy is a comparison between two things to show their similarities or relationship. Similes are the easiest type of analogies to spot because they are all made using the adverbs like or as. Dr. Wheeler gives us an example from Robert Burns, "O, my love is like the a red, red rose" ("Literary Terms and Definitions: S"). In this line, Burns is very obviously comparing his love to a rose using the adverb is. Therefore, to quickly find a simile, all you have to do is skim through the passages in question until you find the words like or as; more often than not, but not always, you have also found a simile.

Metaphors, on the other hand, are analogies that figuratively state something is something else; it's no longer like something else; instead, it is that something else. Dr. Wheeler gives us an example from Martin Luther stating, "A mighty fortress is our God." Here, Luther is likening God to a fortress by saying that God is a fortress. Metaphors can be harder to spot, but one easy way is to skim through the passage in question until you find the verb is. The verb is is commonly used, but there is a chance that there is a metaphor surrounding the verb. Below are a couple of ideas to help get you started.

Metaphors can be seen in the first few lines of Romeo's opening soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 2. Two metaphors can be found in the lines, "What light through yonder window breaks? / It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" (II.ii.2-3). The first metaphor, "It is the East," compares the lighted window to the east, the direction in which the sun rises. The second metaphor, "Juliet is the sun," compares Juliet to the sun, which is to say that her beauty is so radiant that it is as if she glows like the sun. Many other metaphors, including an extended metaphor, can also be found in this one soliloquy.

A simile can likewise be found in this same scene when Juliet tells him she feels it is far too sudden and rash for them to exchange vows of love that night. She compares the rashness and suddenness of exchanging vows to lightening that quickly lights up the sky and just as suddenly vanishes, as we see in her lines:

It is too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say "It lightens." (124-26)

Since this analogy comparing rashness to lightning uses the word like, we know that this is a perfect example of a simile.

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