What are some literary devices used in Mercutio's quote in Act I of Romeo and Juliet: "If love be rough with you, be rough with love. / Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down"?
In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the Bard employs the dramatic character of the foil. A foil is a character set up as a contrast to another character. This contrast makes the particular qualities of each character stand out. The Nurse is a foil to Juliet and, likewise, Mercutio is a foil to Romeo. Both Romeo and Juliet are romantics who idealize love as spiritual and a mutual adoration between two people. In contrast, the Nurse and Mercutio are anti-romantic and emphasize the sexual and physical aspects of love.
In Act I, Scene 4, Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio and the other Montague men are on their way to Capulet's party. It is known to Mercutio that Romeo has been spurned in his affection for Rosaline. Ever the skeptic and joker, Mercutio advises Romeo to have fun at the party and to dance. But Romeo is very serious over his recent lack of success with Rosaline. He contemplates the cruel aspects of love when he says,
Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.
If love be rough with you, be rough with love.Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.