What literary devices are in the following quote from Romeo and Juliet?: "My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is."

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"My only love sprung from my only hate!" is an example of an exclamatory sentence. Shakespeare has written this sentence as an exclamatory sentence to indicate to the actor playing Juliet that her tone here should express an intense emotion—whether shock, deep frustration, or something else. In the same quotation, the repetition of the word "only" emphasizes how unfortunate Juliet thinks she is. She has "only" one love and "only" one hate, and so the fact that they are both linked seems highly unfortunate.

There is also repetition of the word "too" in the next part of the quotation. The repetition here again emphasizes Juliet's misfortune. She saw Romeo "too early," and found out about his family name "too late." There is also in this part of the quotation, and in the previous part of the quotation, syntactical parallelism. This is when the first half of a sentence mirrors the second half. For example, in the first sentence, we have "My only love" and "my only hate," and in the second sentence, we have "Too early seen," and "known too late." The syntactical parallelism here reflects how Juliet has to balance her love for Romeo against her supposed hatred of his family. One is tempered, or at least complicated, by the other.

The line, "Prodigious birth of love it is" is a metaphor. Her love for Romeo, of course, was not literally born, but this metaphor implies that her love for Romeo was natural, and also that her love for Romeo has given her a new life. The fact that the birth is described as "Prodigious," meaning unnatural or abnormal, is also an example of dramatic irony, which is when the audience knows something that one or more of the characters on stage do not.

The audience, in this instance, is already aware, from the prologue of the play, that Romeo and Juliet's love will end in death. Indeed it is described as "death-marked." Juliet is not aware of this, but her choice of language, to an audience that does know, is ironic. She speaks of a birth, which we know will end in death. The dramatic irony here also perhaps makes us, the audience, feel more sympathetic towards Juliet. She is deeply and hopelessly in love and has been given, as it were, a new life because of this love, but she is tragically unaware that this love, and this new life, will ultimately lead to her own death.

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Juliet essentially outlines a paradox: how can it be that her only love and her only hate are, in fact, contained within just one person? How can she both love and hate Romeo? This idea seems to contradict itself, and yet it is nevertheless true. The second part of her statement is what helps us to understand the paradox. Juliet did not realize when she saw Romeo that he was the son of her father's enemy, making him her enemy as well, and she found out about this fact too late, after she had already fallen in love with him. Thus, she saw him too early and knew his identity too late. It is, therefore, "prodigious"—wondrous and strange—to her that she should find herself to be in love with someone who ought to be her "loathed enemy."

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This section means that Juliet will only ever love Romeo, and that he is, unfortunately, a Montague, which means he's one of her family's sworn enemies. It also refers to the way she learns who he is after they fall in love.

As far as literary devices, there is repetition ("my only,") rhyme (hate/late), parallel structures (too early, too late), possible hyperbole (is this really her only love?) foreshadowing (this love does turn out to be "prodigious," in that it kills both of them), metaphor (the love is not born, and doesn't spring), and rhythm, to name the core devices.

Greg

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