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Alliteration

Definition=The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

Example=”From forth the fatal loins of these two foes; A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.” (Prologue. 5-6) Explanation=The first few lines in Romeo and Juliet are used to describe the plot of the entire play. It starts by explaining the fight between these two families and leads into revealing the death between the two children. In this particular line, the repeating letter “f” in “from forth the fatal loins of these two foes” and the repeating letter “l” in “lovers take their life” separate the two parts of these clauses and are used to exemplify the change from the fight of these two different families to the death of their son and daughter (prologue 5-6). Shakespeare uses a semicolon between the two independent clauses to show how different they are from each other. The change from anger about the conflict of these enemies to sadness pertaining to suicide is so extreme, a semicolon is needed to keep the two emotions separate. The prologue in Romeo and Juliet is one of the most important parts of the play, so Shakespeare made sure to use poetic words and make the sentences flow together smoothly. This is the first part of the play the readers will see, so making the prologue smooth and velvety pulls the reader in and makes anyone want to keep reading. The image of the flag represents alliteration because just like the letter at the beginning of each word is repeating, these flags are repeating.

Cliche

Definition phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

Quote=“Star-crossed lovers” (Prologue 6)

Explanation=Romeo and Juliet are known as “star-crossed lovers” by not only just the audience but they are called this in the prologue of the play (prologue 6). This term has the hidden meaning that their love is going to fail. Many people believe stars control destiny, and Romeo and Juliet crossed the stars and loved each other against all odds, so their love is destined to die. As many people already know, their love did indeed fail, and they both faced the end of their lives. The audience falls in love with the characters and wants their love to be as deep as Romeo and Juliet’s. It is clear from the prologue this play will not be a romantic comedy. Shakespeare used strong words like “star-crossed lovers” and “ancient grudge” to jump right to the point and let the reader know they will feel strong emotions by the end of the play (prologue 3-6). The use of these cliches about love adds to the sappy, romantic mood that is present. Although this term may have not been overused when Shakespeare wrote this drama, Romeo and Juliet are widely known, and the words star-crossed lovers are overused. The picture above of a vending machine is like a cliche- They are extremely overused.

Iambic Pentameter

Definition=A line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable

Quote=“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, art far more fair than she.” (2.2.2-6)

Explanation=Shakespeare is known for his lyrical and poetic language, so it is no surprise the reader is faced with this almost every page they turn. When Romeo was giving this speech while standing outside Juliet’s window, just like the picture taken of a window in the school, he hears her talking, though she does not know Romeo is there. They both speak in beautiful and figurative language that tugs at the reader’s heart, such as Romeo saying “Juliet is the sun” and should “kill the envious moon” (2.2.3-4). In the play, only important people speak in Iambic pentameters and extremely poetic language, such as Romeo and Juliet in this scene, so the readers know for sure who the main characters are in the play.

Irony

Definition=The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Quote=“Appear like death… and then awake as from a pleasant sleep” (4.1.103-106)

Explanation=When Juliet drinks the vial which contains a liquid to make her “appear like death” and then later “awake as from a pleasant sleep”, many people think Juliet is actually dead (4.1.103-106). The message that Juliet is not deceased never reaches Romeo, so he kills himself in despair. This is an example of dramatic irony because the audience knows Juliet is not dead, but the other characters in the book do not know this. Dramatic irony creates strong emotions in the audience because they know something the character does not, and the information in this case could have saved Romeo and Juliet’s life. Friar is an important character who is friends with Romeo and Juliet. In the play, important characters speak in poetic language, and Friar speaks this way many times, but in this instance, Friar is speaking directly and not using extremely poetic language. He gets to the point and tells Juliet exactly what this important vial of liquid will do to her. Just like the vial is ironic, this picture of a dandelion is ironic because a flower would not usually grow in this location wedged in between concrete and bricks- but it is.

Personification

Definition=The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman.

Quote=“Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she;

She’s the hopeful lady of my earth” (1.2.14-15).

Explanation=While Paris is asking Juliet’s father to marry his daughter, Lord Capulet explains how he believes Juliet is too young to get married, but if she wants to marry him, Paris has his permission. Then Capulet invites Paris to the party he is having so he has an opportunity to win over Juliet’s heart. It does not go unnoticed, though, when Capulet personifies the Earth by saying it “swallowed all [his] hopes” with Juliet being the exception (1.2.14). This quote is an indirect reference to Juliet’s siblings that have passed away, so “she’s the hopeful lady of [his] earth” (1.2.15). Both of these examples of figurative language add sophistication and elegance to the play. Shakespeare addresses outer space frequently in his play, mentioning the stars, the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth. Many times this reference is to explain to the readers how important one character is to another, or how much that character loves the other one. Just like almost all of the play, this quote by Capulet is written very poetic and expressive. Capulet explains how the earth swallowed all of his hopes but Juliet, just like people swallow all of the water they can from water fountains until the person behind them in line gets impatient.

Rhyming couplet

Definition=Two lines of the same length that rhyme and complete one thought.

Quote= “So shall you share all that he doth possess,

By having him, making yourself no less.” (1.3.93-94).

Explanation= Paris is the most desirable man in town. He is rich and beautiful, and Lady Capulet and the Nurse know this fact. Lady Capulet explains how if Juliet marries Paris, she will be just as desirable and would “share all that he doth possess” (1.3.94). Shakespeare does not use rhyme very much in Romeo and Juliet, because if you use it too much, the play can start to sound like a children’s book or a short poem. Using rhyme every once in a while, though, makes the reader enjoy the story more, as it adds musical touch to the play and gives a little bit of extra structure to the writing. The two lines in the quote rhyme and complete one though, just like these two posters above sound similar and say the same thing.

Sonnet

Definition poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, typically having ten syllables per line.

Quote= “If I profane with my unworthiest hand… O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do… They pray — grant thou, lest faith turn to despair” (1.5.93-104)

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Explanation= After seeing Juliet at the masquerade party at the beginning of the play, Romeo falls in love, and begs her to kiss him, saying “Let lips do what hands do” (1.5.93). When they first talk, both of them speak in a shared sonnet. The sonnet is a perfect way that is used a lot in writing to tell love, but it also serves a deeper meaning. At the beginning of the play, A sonnet is used in the prologue to explain how Romeo and Juliet will die, and this is a hidden meaning that they have true love, but that love is destined to fail. If the readers figure this meaning out, they would be shocked by how clever Shakespeare truly is, but even if they do not figure it out, it still adds to the romantic mood of the moment. Walkways, such as the one in the picture, introduce you to a new street, building, or place, and this scene was the first time Romeo introduced himself to Juliet.

Allusion

Definition figure of speech that refers to a well-known story, event, person, or object in order to make a comparison in the readers’ minds.

Quote=She’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow. (1.1.203-204)

Explanation=While talking to Benvolio about his past relationship with Rosaline, Romeo mentions Cupid, the Roman god of love. Rosaline is determined to stay a virgin forever and will “not be hit with Cupid’s arrow” (1.1.203-204), even to be with the man she loves. Romeo mentions how even Cupid can not change this woman’s mind, just as this sign in the photo portrayed above can not give love to whoever reads it. Almost every important character in Romeo and Juliet makes long speeches on every occasion they can, and these speeches are full of rhetorical devices, such as an allusion in this example. Speeches give the reader a deeper understanding of what the author is trying to get across.

Hyperbole

Definition=Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

Quote=“There is no world without Verona walls, / But purgatory, torture, hell itself. (3.3.17-18)

Explanation=After Romeo kills Tybalt to revenge Mercutio’s death, Friar Lawrence tells Romeo what the punishment from the Prince will be. Instead of giving Romeo death, the Prince decided to provide a gentler punishment and banish this man from Verona. Romeo, madly in love with Juliet, can not imagine a life without her and would rather die than live outside Verona’s walls without the love of his life. Along with the surplus of rhetorical devices, there is a lot of exaggeration. The characters talk and act melodramatically. In this example, the exaggeration is used to explain to the reader the extent of Romeo’s love for Juliet, saying his life without her is “purgatory, torture, hell itself” (3.3.18). The exit sign in the photo represents Romeo’s punishment for killing Tybalt is leaving Verona.

Imagery

Definition=Visually descriptive or figurative language.

Quote=“A plague on both your houses! They have made worms meat of me.” (3.1.104-105)

Explanation=After being stabbed by Tybalt and about to die, Mercutio wishes bad luck on both the Capulets and the Montagues because the conflict between them is what caused his death. He claims both the houses “have made worms meat of [him]” (3.1.105). This visually descriptive language is found in many places throughout Romeo and Juliet and is a main cause for the true beauty in all of his plays. The use of imagery casts the reader into the story, and in this example, the reader can see Mercutio becoming worm meat right there in the street. Shakespeare’s descriptive language about Mercutio’s death is like this poster’s descriptive language about the new YoDots.

Metaphor

Definition figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Quote=2.2.3 “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!”

Explanation=Standing outside Juliet’s window, Romeo gives a speech about his love to her, even if she does not hear him. He says “Juliet to the sun” to say she is radiant, warm, and fends off darkness (2.2.3). Shakespeare uses heartfelt exchanges full of literary elements, such as this one, between characters to add to the passionate and beautiful style of the play. Not only does the metaphor add to the elegant nature of the play, it compares two things to each other so the reader can truly know what Shakespeare believes Juliet is like. Many people look up to the sky and compare clouds and unrelated objects to each other, and just like Shakespeare, they use metaphors to explain the comparison.

Paradox

Definition statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

Quote=“Within the infant rind of this small flower Poison hath residence and medicine power” (2.3.23-24).

Explanation=The “infant rind of [this] small flower” has both poisonous and medicinal properties (2.3.23). That is a self-contradictory statement that seems absurd, but it is actually true. Friar explains that people are a lot like this flower because they have both kindness and evil and have the ability to be good or deadly. Shakespeare uses a lot of hidden meanings in his writings, such as this one in which Friar Laurence’s observations refer precisely to the play’s plot. Romeo and Juliet’s love kills them when it’s ‘poisoned’ by their family’s vengeful quarrel. At the same time, their endearment also has the ability to mend, which is clear when their parents decide to make up at the end of the play. The caution sign on this image tells everyone not to play inside the garbage can, which seems absurd because most people would never dream of doing this, but at one time or another someone did, so they had to put that sign on it.

Pun

Definition clever use of a word exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.

Quote= “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man” (3.1.94-95).

Explanation=After being stabbed by Tybalt, Mercutio says one of the most famous puns uttered in Romeo and Juliet. He says that if anyone was to look for him tomorrow, they will find “a grave man’ (3.1.95). A grave man is usually known as being serious and dull, but in this instance, it also means he is dying and will soon need to be put in a grave. Shakespeare uses many puns in his early works, and this was one of the major things he was known for. Puns and clever play on words make the reader believe the author is witty and usually are used for a humorous effect, but the seriousness of this situation sucks out all the humor. In many instances, puns are centered on words that look alike but mean different things, and electrical switches, like in this photo, are used to do different things- such as work lights, turn on the fan, and use the food disposal.

Simile

Definition figure of speech comparing two unlike things that are often introduced by like or as.

Quote=“It seems she hangs upon the cheek of the night as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” (1.5.45-46)

Explanation=After seeing Juliet for the first time at the masquerade party, Romeo immediately falls in love. He compares her to “a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”, meaning she is valuable, rare, and beautiful (1.5.46). Shakespeare uses extremely detailed descriptions in all of his plays and stories, and in this example Romeo believes Juliet is extremely rare and valuable, so to explain to the audience precisely how important she is, he compares her directly to a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear. The moon painting represents Shakespeare’s comparison of Juliet hanging on the “cheek of night” to a valuable jewel in an ear (1.5.45).

Symbol

A mark or character is used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process.

“Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” (1.1.40)

Sampson, a servant of the house of Capulet, starts an altercation with Montague’s servant, Abram. Samson bites his thumb as Abram walks by in an attempt to start a fight without being too outright and be blamed for it. Abram asks if Samson was biting his thumb at him, and the man said no, but if Abram wants to fight him, Sampson says “I am for you” (1.1.49). Thumb-biting is a foolish and childish gesture that symbolizes what is now considered a middle finger. Not only is biting your thumb a symbol for a rude gesture, but it also represents the stupidity of the fight between the Montagues and the Capulets. Shakespeare uses subplots in a lot of his writings, and this fight is an example of a subplot because the main storyline is a story about two lovers, but the subplot is the rivalry between the two households. Subplots add further drama to the story and keep the readers interested. Lastly, the picture above with the three arrows is a symbol for recycling, just like thumb-biting.

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