The Imagery In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

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For playwrights, there are several different methods used to captivate the reader’s attention. Poetic language in a play is crucial to heighten the understanding and enjoyment of it. In Romeo and Juliet, by world-renowned writer William Shakespeare, various effective figurative devices are used such as foreshadowing, metaphors and dramatic irony to enhance the audience’s entertainment and comprehension of the play.

To begin with, foreshadowing can be seen many times in Romeo and Juliet. It makes the play more intriguing and hints on what will happen in the future while still keeping the readers on their toes. Shakespeare writes in the prologue, “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” (Romeo and Juliet, prologue.6) which, right off the bat indicates that the lovers, Romeo and Juliet, die by committing suicide. Furthermore, when Romeo is about to enter the masquerade with Benvolio and Mercutio, he hesitates and says,

“I fear too early for my mind misgives

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

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With this night’s revels and expire the term

Of a despised life clos’d in my breast,

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.” (R+J, 1.5.106-111).

Romeo believes that if he attends this Capulet ball, something terrible will happen that will cause him to have an early death. Later on in the play, Romeo’s belief turns out to be true because he meets Juliet at the ball which creates a series of unfortunate events in their relationship that lead to his death. Last but not least, while Romeo is leaving and is descending from Juliet’s bedroom, she tells him that he appears as if he is dead at the bottom of a tomb and that he looks paler than usual (R+J, 3.5.54-57). Juliet’s vision turns real afterwards because the next time she sees Romeo, he will be lying dead in a tomb. All in all, this proves why foreshadowing adds suspense while knowing the outcome of the play and keeps the audience hooked to the story.

Moreover, in Romeo and Juliet, various metaphors can be found. Using these metaphors can help the readers visualize the words and understand the deeper meaning of them. When Lady Capulet tells Juliet and the nurse about Paris’ proposal to marry Juliet, she says, “This precious book of love, this unbound lover, / To beautify him, only lacks a cover.” (R+J, 1.3. 88-89). This illustrates how Lady Capulet is saying Paris’ personality is beautiful like a book, but needs Juliet as the cover for the final touch to perfect his beauty. Next, Romeo goes to the Capulet’s orchard to meet Juliet and he describes her by saying, “It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” (R+J, 2.3.3). This portrays how Romeo thinks of Juliet like the sun because she puts light in his world and makes it brighter. As known, the Earth needs the Sun for survival. In this case, Romeo is saying that he cannot live without her because she gives him life. Lastly, when Friar Lawrence talks about what will happen to Juliet when she drinks the potion, he mentions how her eyelids will close just like a closing window (R+J, 4.1.100). Windows are used to view the world so, when Friar Lawrence says the metaphor, he is implying how Juliet will not be able to see the world as well. All things considered, metaphors are important so that the readers can see the words from a different perspective and help create an imagery of the story.

Similarly, when reading this play, one can easily spot many examples of dramatic irony. It lets the audience have more knowledge than the characters of what is happening in the play and it gives a feeling of excitement for when the characters figure out what the audience already knows. First off, Juliet cries over Romeo’s departure and when Lady Capulet sees her crying, she thinks it is because of Tybalt’s death. Lady Capulet gets annoyed because she thinks it is stupid how Juliet is shedding so many tears for her cousin since it is not like he is coming back to life. The reader knows that Juliet is, in fact, crying for Romeo but Lady Capulet does not. So, the reader is now above her and understands more. Also, when Friar John returns to Friar Lawrence saying, “I could not send it─here it is again─ / Nor get a messenger to bring it thee, / So fearful were they of infection.” (R+J, 5.3.14-16). The audience knows the consequence of Romeo not receiving the letter which means that he will be unaware that Juliet will be in a deep sleep for 42 hours and not dead. Later on, when Juliet wakes up, Romeo will not know that he has to go and get her. This case of dramatic irony shows that Friar John does not know the consequence of the undelivered letter but the reader does. Finally, when Romeo sees Juliet lying down in her tomb and thinks she’s dead, he drinks the potion he got from the apothecary and dies near his true love. This is an important example of dramatic irony because it is the main event. The reader knows that Juliet is going to wake up soon, but Romeo does not and he then takes his own life. Therefore, a play must include dramatic irony so the audience can anticipate the events that occur while still being eager to know when and how the characters will find out what the readers already do know.

In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, many useful literary devices are used such as foreshadowing, metaphors and dramatic irony to improve the readers’ amusement and knowledge of the play. Although there are many different ways to attract an audience, writers should always incorporate figurative devices to their stories as it always makes them better.

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