What are some examples of metaphors in Act II, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
lordcou eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the infamous balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, a number of metaphors emerge. A metaphor is when two seemingly unlike things are being compared in order to reveal something about the subject.

Upon seeing Juliet in the window, Romeo says:

But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou her maid are far more fair than she:

Be not her maid, since she is envious;

Her vestal livery is but sick and green

And none but fools do wear it; cast if off.

In this example, the word Juliet is being compared to the sun. Romeo arrived to her balcony late in the evening, but (figuratively) it’s no longer dark outside since Juliet is full of light. If she were to come out or “arise,” the moon would no longer be out. Romeo then describes how the moon is jealous of Juliet since she is prettier than it.

Once Romeo reveals himself to Juliet and attempts to swear his love to her, she cautions him:

I have no joy of this contract to-night:

It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be

Ere one can say ‘It lightens.’ Sweet, good night!

This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath,

May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.

In this example, there is both an example of a simile and a metaphor. As Romeo pushes to swear his love to her, she stops him and compares his words or “contract” to “lightning.” She worries that his words are like lightning, meaning they will come and go fast and not really mean anything. She then refers to their love as a “bud.” She uses this metaphor in order to slow down their relationship, expressing that the bud will grow into a flower; in other words, their entire relationship doesn’t need to develop that night - it can develop over time.