Romeo and Juliet Literary Devices

oxymoron bringing together two contradictory terms as in “wise fool” or “feather of lead”•Example: In Act 1, Scene 1, line 181, Romeo uses several oxymora (the plural of “oxymoron”) to describe the relationship of love and hate. He says, “O brawling love, O loving hate.”
Allusion reference to historical or literary figure, event, or object•Example: In Act 1, Scene 1, line 217, Romeo says that Rosaline “hath Dian’s wit.” He is alluding to Diana, goddess of chastity, who opposed love and marriage. In other words,Rosaline thinks like Diana and will not fall in love with Romeo.
Pun a play on words based on the similarity of sound between two words with different meanings•Example: In Act 1, Scene 4, lines 14-16, Romeo is feeling sad, so he does not want to dance. He says to the others, “You have dancing shoes / With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead / so stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”
Imagery representation in words of a vivid sensory experience•Example: In Act 1, Scene 5, lines 55 and 56, Romeo uses imagery to describe Juliet’s beauty when he says, “So shows a dove trooping with crows / As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.”
Point-of-view perspective of the person who is telling the story•Example: In Act 1, Scene 5, Tybalt is upset that Romeo, a Montague, has come to his Uncle’s party. He says, “I’ll not endure him” (85). His point-of-view is that an enemy should not be allowed to attend the party.
Paradox A statement that might seem to contradict itself but is nevertheless true; for example,”less is more.”•Example: In Act 1, Scene 5, line 152, Juliet expresses a paradox when she speaks ofRomeo, saying, “My only love sprung from my only hate.” This seems to be a contradictory statement, because love and hate are opposites.
Rhyme similar sounds between the ends of two words•Example: In the Prologue to Act 2, the Chorus speaks in a sonnet, a form of a poem. The first four lines contain alternating rhymes:Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,And young affection gapes to be his heir.That fair for which love groaned for and would die,With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.
Metaphor an implied comparison between two unlike things•Example: In Act 2, Scene 2, line 3, Romeo uses a metaphor, saying, “Juliet is the sun,”meaning that Juliet is bright and beautiful.
Soliloquy A speech an actor gives as though talking to himself or herself•Example: Romeo starts his famous soliloquy about Juliet with the words, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks” (II.ii.2). He is speaking to himself about Juliet.
Aside words spoken by an actor supposedly heard only by the audience•Example: Romeo uses asides as he is listening to Juliet’s soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 2. In line 27, he says, “She speaks.” He is not talking to Juliet, the only other person on stage.Only the audience is intended to hear this line.
Hyperbole a figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect•Example: In Act 2, Scene 2, line 140, Juliet says that her “bounty is as boundless as the sea.” In other words, she says what she has to offer Romeo is wider than the ocean.
Simile A direct comparison of unlike things using “like” or “as”•Example: In Act 2, Scene 6, lines 8-10, Friar Lawrence uses a simile to warn Romeo about being too passionate too soon. He says:These violent delights have violent endsAnd in their triumph die, like fire and powder,Which, as they kiss, consume.
Protagonist the main character in a piece of literature•Example: In this play, Romeo is one protagonist.
Antagonist the person or force opposing the main character•Example: Tybalt is one antagonist in the play, because he opposes Romeo, who is a protagonist.
Tragedy a story with an unhappy ending•Example: Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, because the main characters, along with four other people, die.•What is another example of a tragedy you have seen or read? It could be a book, a play, or a movie.
Conflict the struggle between opposing forces or characters•Example: An obvious example of conflict is Tybalt’s hatred of Montagues, and especially Romeo, which ends with a fight.
Character foil Sets off or illuminates the major character – usually to create a contrast that is favorable to the major character. Ex. Act I Scene III – The nurse serves as a foil for Lady Capulet Explanation – The nurse rambles using bawdy, common language. She is frank and unrefined. Lady Capulet speaks like a noble woman. Her lines are in blank verse or rhymed couplets. Lady Capulet’s language is indirect and refined.
Chorus A characteristic device in ancient Greek drama, wherein a group of actors speaking or chanting in unison – often while dancing – convey information about the play, particularly an emotion about the action or characters
Monologue A long, uninterrupted speech that a character speaks in front of other characters
Motif devices that continually reoccur in a work. Ex. Images of light and dark throughout Romeo and Juliet.
Verbal Irony say one thing but mean the opposite
Situational Irony involves a discrepancy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.
Dramatic Irony It occurs when the audience is aware of something that the characters in the story are not aware of.