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Assonance is used to create rhyme in a line or phrase in poetry and is distinguished by the repetition of vowel sounds, as in the following example:
She looked at the book that he took.
In Act 2, the Prologue has a number of examples:
"Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groan'd for and would die,
With tender Juliet match'd, is now not fair."
The Prologue is written in the form of a sonnet and in the first quatrain above, the a and o sounds are repeated. This creates internal rhyme and adds fluidity and smoothness to what is said. Since the theme here is love, it also emphasises the 'roundedness' or fullness of this emotion. It adds to the romantic nature of the experience and gives greater character to Romeo's new-found affection.
In scene 2, Romeo, on seeing Juliet on the balcony, says amongst other things:
"... Arise, 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 ..."
The repetition of the a sound is obvious and emphasises Romeo's amorous affliction. He is besotted with Juliet and expresses his overwhelming affection for her.
He furthermore declares:
"... her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night ..."
The repetition of the i further emphasises Romeo's immense infatuation.
Assonance is the repetition of similar vowel sounds, usually close together in a group of words. Familiar example are "free and easy," Mad as a hatter," and so on. Assonance is a poetic device, as is most sound repetition, that is used to please the ear and to emphasize certain sounds.
In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, an example of assonance is in the following lines of Juliet as the /o/ is emphasized:
And yet I wish but for the thing I have.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
I hear some noise within. Dear love, adieu! (II,ii,132-136)
Likewise, the character of Romeo employs the poetic device of assonance in his life earlier to Juliet:
With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out.
And what love can do, that dares love attempt,
Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me (III,ii,66-69)
In fact, there is much repetition of the /o/ in Act II. For one thing, the word love is repeatedly throughout the scene.
There are several examples of assonance in Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet. Assonance involves the repetition of vowel sounds in words that are close together and that begin with different consonants. An example is when Mercutio says in Act 2, Scene 1: "Cry but 'Ay me!' pronounce but 'love' and 'dove." The assonance consists of the vowel sounds "aye," in "cry" and "ay" and the "o" sound in "love" and "dove." Mercutio later says in the same scene, "Now will he sit under a medlar tree, And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit." The words "will," "sit," "wish, and "his" all have the same "i" sound. In Act 2, Scene 2, Romeo's line "To twinkle in their spheres till they return" also features assonance. It repeats the short "i" sound in "twinkle," "in," and "till." Assonance adds rhythm to a line.
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