What literary device is used in this line from Romeo and Juliet: "there lies more peril in thine eyes than twenty of their swords"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This line is from the famous balcony scene in Act II, Scene 2, of Romeo and Juliet in which the enamoured Romeo risks his life to enter the Capulet orchard and stand beneath the aperture to Juliet's chambers in the hope of seeing her again. When Juliet discovers Romeo, she immediately senses the danger of his actions in climbing the high walls of the orchards and risking death if her kinsman should have seen him engaged in such an act. But, Romeo tries to allay her fears as he tells her scaling the wall was facile, "With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls." Nevertheless, Juliet warns,"If they do see thee, they will murder thee," a warning to which Romeo replies,

Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye
Than twenty of their swords. Look thou but sweet
And I am proof against their enmity. (2.2. 75-77)

With this metaphor in which Romeo compares the trepidation he experiences that she will not return his love with his fear of the Capulet guards' swords, Romeo clearly expresses the extent of his desire for Juliet. Romeo's words are also a further example of Romeo's use of the conventions of courtly love as one of the rules of its poetry is that "Love can deny nothing to love," i.e. Romeo must risk his life for love.


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