Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are some examples of personification in Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the very beginning of the act, the Chorus says, 

Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir.
That fair for which love groaned for and would die,
With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.  (2.1-4)

In these lines old desire is personified, as it is given the ability to lie in a deathbed and die; further, young affection is personified as being ready to become the heir to old desire, which means that young affection is going to replace old desire in Romeo's heart.  It is given the human quality of being an heir and experiencing anticipation.  The beauty that Romeo's love groaned for and would die is personified as experiencing painful emotion and death.  

Then, after Romeo runs away from his friends to scale the wall to Juliet's garden, Mercutio tries to compel him to return or at least confess his purpose.  When Romeo does not answer, Benvolio tells Mercutio that 

he hath hid himself among these trees
To be consorted with the humorous night.  (2.1.33-34)

In these lines, Benvolio personifies night as something with whom one can consort, like a friend with whom one can be in league, and he also calls night humorous, another way of saying that the night is moody.  

Hearing his friend, Mercutio, mocking him, Romeo then says, 

He jests at scars that never felt a wound. (2.2.1)

Emotional scars cannot feel the wound that makes them, and so Romeo personifies scars here as being capable of such conscious feeling.

Further, when he sees Juliet upon her balcony, he says,

Her eye discourses; I will answer it. (2.2.13)

He means that her eyes seem to speak to him and he longs to answer them.  Eyes, obviously, cannot talk in a literal sense, and so he personifies them by suggesting that they can.

He goes on to say,

Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.  (2.2.15-17)

Romeo personifies the stars, suggesting that they have something other than shining to which they must attend, and so they beg Juliet's eyes to take their places until they can come back.

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Chase Burns eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personification is a figure of speech where human qualities are given to non-human things like ideas, objects or animals. (It seems like a metaphor, but it is actually the opposite!) Act 2 has many examples of personification, but there are great examples in the speeches in the famous balcony scene (Act 2, Scene 2). I'll outline three examples and explain how they use personification. 

ROMArise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, /
Who is already sick and pale with grief /
That thou her maid art far more fair than she. (II.ii.4-6)

Here, Romeo gives the moon human qualities, imagining the moon to be jealous of Juliet because Juliet is more beautiful than the moon. 

ROMMy name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, /
Because it is an enemy to thee. (II.ii.59-60)

Romeo gives his name human qualities when he describes it as hateful and his enemy. Of course, a name is only a name - Juliet goes into this idea in her own speech - but Romeo imagines his name as a literal enemy.

JUL: My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words /
Of that tongue's utterance, yet I know the sound. /
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague? (II.ii.62-64)

In this section, Juliet describes her ears as being able to drink words. Of course, the function of an ear is to hear, not drink. A person can drink, not an ear. Furthermore, sometimes a person drinks so much they become drunk or bloated. This is similar to how she believes her ears react when they hear Romeo. 

Further Reading:

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