Where can the denotation and connotation be found in the phrase "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand / To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss" from Romeo and Juliet?

1 Answer

favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

When Romeo and Juliet first meet in Shakespeare's play, they are immediately attracted to one another. Romeo takes Juliet's hand as if to kiss it, saying, "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand / To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss" (1.5.95-96). In terms of denotation, or dictionary definition, a pilgrim is one who travels to a holy place; these pilgrims are blushing, which means to turn pink, usually as a result of some heightened emotion. Smooth, as a verb, can mean to make free from difficulties or bumpiness.

In terms of connotation, the emotional quality of all of these words is extremely positive. The words blushing pilgrims imply that Juliet herself is holy, and that Romeo's lips are overjoyed and amazed to be near her hand. Further, words like smooth and tender are also extremely positive in connotation. Because all of the words are so positive, we can see that Romeo is trying to flatter Juliet by impressing upon her how in awe of her he is and how attractive she is to him.