What is special about the way Romeo talks in Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

In his first speech in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is using a lot of oxymora to describe love as the exact opposite of what it seems to be, and he is also personifying love.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Romeo's very first long speech in the opening scene is different from other speeches with respect to the number of poetic rhetorical devices he uses. One rhetorical device is the use of many oxymora. An oxymoron is a word construction that contains contrasting ideas in close proximity. In...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

this first speech, Romeo is using oxymorato complain about how puzzling love is and also to describe love as this sort of wonderful, agonizing torture. One example of the oxymora he uses is in the line, "O brawling love! O loving hate!" (I.i.174). To "brawl" is to fight; therefore, due to his rejection from Rosaline, Romeo is describing love as both a loving emotion and an emotion one battles with. In the line, "O loving hate," he is describing love as both a loving emotion and a hateful emotion. It is hateful because either the one you love hates you, or you hate love for being rejected by love. Many other oxymora can be found in this speech that are being used to describe love as the exact opposite of what it seems to be.In addition to oxymora, another rhetorical devise Romeo uses to make this speech sound both very poetic and poignant is apostrophe. Apostrophe is a special type of personification. Personification is when we give animals, abstract ideas, or inanimate objects human characteristics. However, apostrophe is an even more specific form of personification in that the speaker in a poem or piece of literature actually addresses some sort of abstract idea as if it is both a person and actually present in the room (Dr. Wheeler, "Literary Terms and Definitions: P"). Throughout most of this speech, Romeo is literally addressing love as if it is present, which gives love human characteristics. His address to love begins at the line, "Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!" (174). In this line and throughout the rest of the speech, Romeo is literally asking love why its awful tormenting nature is the way it is.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team