What rhetorical devices are used in Juliet's speech (scene 2.2 lines 131-135)?I am doing an oral presentation and have seleced this speech.  I need to examine the language/rhetorical techniques...

What rhetorical devices are used in Juliet's speech (scene 2.2 lines 131-135)?

I am doing an oral presentation and have seleced this speech.  I need to examine the language/rhetorical techniques the speech employs.

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Undoubtedly you are considering Juliet's famous "What's in a name?" speech.  Excellent choice.

Though short, this speech employs many of the devices Shakespeare is most known for.

First, there is an example of metaphor:

That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.

Comparison of the meaninglessness of Romeo's name to the meaninglessness of the name of a rose.  The name alone does not change the character of that which it describes.

Next, there is hyperbole:

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.

Juliet, in her new love and giddy attraction for Romeo, thinks he's "perfect."

Of course, every question she asks is a rhetorical question, as she is talking to no one and not looking for actual answers.

Finally, the entire speech is an example of dramatic irony.  The entire time Juliet speaks to the darkness, admitting her love for Romeo, she believes she is all alone.  The audience knows, however, that not only is she not alone, but the very object of her affection is listening to every word she says.


 

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most famous lines in this speech are rhetorical questions. Juliet first poses the question to the night air: "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" She does not know, of course, that Romeo is in the garden, which is an example of dramatic irony, since the audience does. She continues by asking "What's in a name?" and "What's Montague?" Her musing that a "rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is metaphorical. She is comparing Romeo, whom she loves, to a rose. If Romeo had a different name, he would still be the same person she had just fallen in love with. These literary devices are intended to demonstrate Juliet's agony at the realization she has fallen in love with Romeo, a forbidden lover, as well as her deep longing to be with him. They show that she recognizes the seriousness of a potential union with Romeo, and perhaps, on some level, that she knows there is more to a name than she protests.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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