Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Dramatic Irony In Romeo And Juliet

What is an example of dramatic irony from Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet? Dramatic irony occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play.

One example of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet is Romeo's attempt to dismiss the danger of his and Juliet's relationship: “Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye / Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet, / And I am proof against their enmity” (act 2, scene 2). Romeo tries to reassure Juliet by claiming he is invincible to her family's hostility, but the audience knows that the young lovers are doomed to die as a result of the feud.

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Shakespeare loves dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience is aware of something the characters in they play are not.

In act 2, Benvolio and Mercutio do not initially know what we as audience members do: that Romeo has fallen in love with Juliet. In scene 4, they rib Romeo about Rosaline, who is now ancient history as far as Romeo is concerned. We remember that his good friends were not on hand when we witnessed the balcony scene.

Dramatic irony occurs as Juliet anxiously asks the Nurse about wedding plans. As audience members, we already know that Friar Laurence will marry the couple, but Shakespeare has the Nurse drag out telling Juliet to the point that she is almost ready to jump out of her skin.

Finally, the friar warns Romeo that love that burns too passionately is destructive. Since we realize from the Prologue that this romance will end badly, we know the truth in the friar's words in a way Romeo cannot. Romeo's lack of moderation will later lead him to commit suicide before thinking through what is going on.

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Dramatic irony is when the reader or audience knows something the characters do not.  The main element of dramatic irony throughout the play is that we know that Romeo and Juliet are doomed, while of course the characters do not.

A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;

Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows

Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife. (Act I prologue, enotes etext pdf p. 8)

Due to this, we already know that the two will fall in love.  We also know that they are in danger.  When Juliet warns Romeo in Act II, Scene 2, he dismisses it.

Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye(75)

Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet,

And I am proof against their enmity. (Act II, Scene 2, p. 40)

Of course, we do not know how they will be doomed.  We just know they are doomed.

The other dramatic irony in Act II is that in Scene 1 and 4, Mercutio and Benvolio think Romeo is still pining over Rosaline, but the audience knows he is over her and has moved on to Juliet.

In Act II, Scene 2, there is also dramatic irony when Juliet address Romeo thinking that he is not there, when in reality the audience knows he is there but she does not.

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?(35)
Deny thy father and refuse thy name!
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet. (p. 39)

In Act II, Scene 3, when Friar Lawrence realizes Romeo has not been to bed, he replies, “God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline?”  (p. 45)  The audience knows that he is over Rosaline, and was out all night with Juliet, but not committing sin.

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To read more about dramatic irony, click here: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Irony#Dramatic_irony

To read a summary of the play, click here: http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet/summary

Citation: Shakespeare, William. "Romeo and Juliet." Enotes.com. Enotes.com. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet-text>.

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