What device ws Shakespeare using when he compared "sole" and "soul" in Act I, Scene Four of Romeo and Juliet?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Shakespeare uses a pun when he uses the homophones “sole” and “soul” in Act 1.

A pun is a joke that makes use of language, including how words sound.

The world “sole” means the bottom of one’s foot.  The word “soul” means our inner spiritual being.  These are homophones because they sound alike, but do not have the same meaning.  It is a pun because Shakespeare takes advantage of their similar sound to make a joke.

Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes(15)

With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead

So stakes me to the ground I cannot move. (Act 1, Scene 4)

Romeo is basically saying that since he feels sad, he is not able to dance.  In order to dance, you have to be happy.  He is not happy because his girl Rosaline left him.  Romeo does not seem to be too depressed to make a pun though!


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