In Romeo and Juliet, what are the images of light, dark, and fire in Act 2 Scene ii?  What are their dramatic purposes?

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leagye eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first reference to light occurs in lns. 2 - 4: "...What light through yonder window breaks?/It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!/Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon..." In these lines, Shakespeare uses metaphor to compare Juliet to the heavenly bodies. A few lines later (lns. 15 - 22) Romeo again compares Juliet to images of light and the heavenly bodies: "Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,/Having some business, do entreat her eyes/To twinkle in their spheres..." Comparing Juliet's qualities to heavenly bodies suggests the purity of Juliet, her goodness and the purity of their love, which is just beginning to really solidify in this scene (the two youths are about to admit their feelings to one another and craft their plan to be together). One of the first references to darkness occurs in ln. 83: "I have night's cloak to hide me from their sight", referring here to Juliet's family ("their"). Then, notice that in lns. 114 - 115, love is referred to as "light" and that it is being discovered during "dark night." This shows that while the love may be pure (light), there is an element of foreboding (night). The purpose is to build suspense for the audience, and to foreshadow the duality of their situation: both love and hate.