Literary Devices in Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet is a mandatory part of a 9th graders English Curriculum, meaning 4 million students will read and evaluate one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays each year. Romeo and Juliet is required in schools across America and even Canada so students can learn Old English while reading a beautiful story where challenging literary devices are used. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet uses metaphors, symbolism, and dramatic irony to create more meaning in this play, initially generating a more poignant story for readers throughout America.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet uses metaphors to compare unlike things, causing great thought and analysis throughout his work. An example of a metaphor used in Romeo and Juliet is “As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee,” (Shakespeare 1.1.72). Tybalt is comparing hell to all of the people with the name Montague, especially Benvolio, saying how he hates them all as much as he hates hell. Another use of metaphors in Romeo and Juliet is when Romeo says “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun,” (Shakespeare 2.2.3). Here Romeo is calling Juliet the sun, saying how bright and glorious she is in his eyes. Metaphors are just one of several literary devices used in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare uses sybolism as a way of expressing more than what is being said by the characters, causing readers to stop and think about his words.

An example of symbolism used in the text of Romeo and Juliet is “Where underneath the grove of a sycamore,” (Shakespeare 1.1.123). The tree in the forest symbolizes isolation in this scene. Romeo is by himself lamenting about how he cannot be with Rosaline, causing a great deal of sadness for Romeo. Symbolism adds more thought to the process of what is being said, for example, “Give this ring to my true knight,” (Shakespeare 3.3.156). Juliet is telling Nurse to give her ring to Romeo as a sign of her love for him, even if he brutally killed her cousin Tybalt hours before. Symbolism is such an important literary device used in Romeo and Juliet, it adds more value to ordinary objects and leaves readers on the edge of their seats throughout the play.

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet dramatic irony is used to increase the magnitude of emotion and energy in the audience by having the characters know less than the patrons do. Dramatic irony is a very common literary device used in Romeo and Juliet, an example is “Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn,” (Shakespeare 3.5.127). Lady Capulet is clueless about Juliet’s marriage to Romeo, causing quite a problem throughout this piece of work, making the audience even more intrigued by the oblivious characters. Another example of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet is on Juliet’s and Paris’ wedding day, “Come, is the bride ready to go to church?” (Shakespeare 4.5.39). Friar Lawrence and the patrons know that Juliet has drunk a potion to get out of this marriage, while everyone else thinks she is dead, causing a huge disturbance throughout Verona.

Her parents are mourning her death while Friar is waiting for her true lover Romeo to rescue her from her terrible life. Dramatic irony is another crucial literary device used in Romeo and Juliet, causing the most conflict throughout Shakespeare's work. In Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, there are multiple significant literary devices used including metaphors, symbolism, and dramatic irony, which all help bring a very moving story to 9th graders in America. Metaphors, symbolism, and dramatic irony are very important literary devices used in Romeo and Juliet. They have also been used in countries around the world throughout history. These three literary devices are a very crucial part of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They are scattered throughout this significant piece of work, helping the author tell a touching story to all of its readers since 1595.  

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