"Romeo and Juliet" Literary Analysis of the Play

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Romeo and Juliet Literary Analysis of Play

Romeo Montague

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The son of Montague and Lady Montague. He is a young man about 16 years old and very impulsive. At the beginning of the play he is madly in love with a woman named Rosaline, but the minute he sees Juliet he falls head over heels and forgets about his love for Rosaline. This provides us with the knowledge that Romeo is very interested in finding love, even if that love happens to be the daughter of his father’s worst enemy. Knowing this information, Romeo sets out to prove how serious is about his love for Juliet by secretly getting married.

Literary Devices related to Romeo:

Motifs: are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. In Romeo and Juliet, light and darkness are recurring motifs that underscore the love of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the hate of their families and their impending death. Romeo refers to Juliet as 'the sun.' Also, as Romeo realizes he must flee Verona and Juliet, the following quotation refers to dark and light: 'More light and light it grows; more dark and dark our woes.'

Oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces a seemingly self-contradictory effect. In (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 189), Romeo says ‘A madness most discreet, implying that the love he feels is starting to drive him insane yet in a very subtle way. In this manner, he is contradicting himself by stating that madness could ever be discreet. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo turns a proverbial phrase, ‘Love is a madness’ (Dent L505.2), into an oxymoron accentuated by consonance.

Personification: is often used to animate symbols or motifs in the text. 'Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, /Should without eyes see pathways to his will!”. In (Act1 Scene 1, Lines 176-177), Romeo is expressing the fact that falling in love is not a conscious choice, he personifies love as a fair living thing who despite being blind, is capable of persuasively luring a person into his trap.

Juliet Capulet

The daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet. A thirteen-year-old girl, Juliet begins the play as a naïve child who has thought little about love and marriage, but she grows up quickly upon falling in love with Romeo, the son of her family’s great enemy. Because she is a girl from an upper-class family, therefore she has none of the freedom Romeo has to roam around the city or get into swordfights. Nevertheless, she shows amazing courage and optimism in trusting her entire life and future to Romeo, refusing to believe the worst reports about him even after he gets involved in a fight with her cousin.

Literary Devices related to Juliet:

Foreshadowing: Juliet says to the Nurse, “If he is married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.' What Juliet foreshadows in this scene is her death if she ends up marrying Romeo, because according to her she cannot love anyone else if he is married.

Binary Opposition: Hatred is still prominent between the two families. Therefore, For Romeo and Juliet, falling in love has brought the realization that they are neither bound to, nor separated from one another by any “third” power—society, family feud, or norms, thus creating new binaries of Individual/ Society and Independence/obedience. They experience freedom as lovers, by negating these powers and taking away their lives. Thus, a new binary opposition appears; freedom/ confinement.

Juliet’s views on both love and hate, however, are to change completely before the evening and masque ball is over, she discovers that love is something which strikes like lightning, whether it is willed or not; but her views on hate do not change until she finds out that the person she now loves is her “villain”. The binary flipped and settled on the position of Love/hate for Romeo and Juliet after being in love with each other and the transcendental signified was also flipped to love, therefore; reality/negating reality; as both have forgotten the fact that they are enemies. […]

Metaphor: In Act 1, Scene 4, Line 253: ‘Prodigious birth of love it is to me, is considered metaphorical because prodigious birth results from loving an enemy, the couplet’s central anthesis, and expresses her first apprehension about her fate. [Shakespeare,]


A kinsman to the Prince, and Romeo’s close friend. Mercutio loves wordplay, especially sexual double entendres. Many of the puns found in Romeo and Juliet are said by Mercutio He can be quite hotheaded and hates pretentious people. He finds Romeo’s romanticized ideas about love tiresome and tries to convince Romeo to view love as a simple matter of sexual appetite.

Literary Devices related to Mercutio:

Metaphor: “blind cowboy butt-shaft” (2,3,15) / Cupid's strong, un-barbed arrow for shooting at butts in archery. Mercutio's conceit may also refer to the arrow's repeated use since these un-barbed missiles easily came unstuck from targets.

Oxymoron: “Thy wit is a very bitter-sweeting; it is the sharpest sauce.” Play on two scenes of very and the oxymoron in the bitter-sweet, which refers to the apple.

Pun: “… for I was come to the whole depth of my tale and meant indeed to occupy the argument no longer”. Mercutio adds to the puns on whole/hole and tale/tail a bawdy quibble on depth, which refers to the climax of both his story and his sexual fantasy.


The Nurse serves as Juliet’s confidante and she plays a very vital role in the marriage and relationship between Juliet and Romeo, the Nurse is the first individual to whom Juliet professes her love for Romeo. Even though she disapproves of the union between the two young lovers, she was still a witness during their secret wedding ceremony. The Nurse loves Juliet like her own daughter and feels entirely helpless because she has no say in the Capulet household.

Literary Devices related to the Nurse:

Foreshadowing: The Nurse foreshadows, 'An I might live to see thee married once' (1.3.63). Naturally, she does not expect this to be realized in such a short space of time, but indeed she does live to see Juliet married once.

Oxymoron: ‘Just in her case. O woeful sympathy!’ (III. iii. 93). This statement is delivered by the Nurse after Friar Lawrence informs her that Romeo incessantly cries after being estranged from Juliet. The oxymoron “woeful sympathy” highlights the sad situation that Romeo and Juliet experience due to being separated from one another, and although sympathy usually implies compassion, the adjective used “woeful” signifies the contrasting sorrow that underlines sympathy thereby highlighting the unsolvable sadness that the Nurse feels when she sees the pain in which the two lovers feel.


He is Romeo’s cousin, but he is against any of Romeo’s impulsive decisions and/or choices. Benvolio is known as the only character who contributes to some semblance of peace and stability. His role as a mediator becomes evident in the famous street-brawl scene where he tries his best to prevent Tybalt, Mercutio, and Romeo from attacking and killing one another. He can also be identified as the well-intentioned voice of reason, he is also a good friend to Romeo of Montague.

Literary Devices related to Benvolio:

Metaphor: ‘Peer’d forth the golden window of the east…’. (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 121) The Sun is known to rise in the east and so, the metaphor of a window implies that the sun or the appearance of the sun gives way to opportunities and new beginnings. The Sun is also known for being a source of light and life and so this metaphor only emphasizes that further.

Personification: ‘Alas that love, so gentle in his view,/Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!’ (Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 174-175). This quote explains to us that love is personified as a gentle and harmless person, however, once an individual has encountered love, they might come across as cold and irritating. The element of personification in this example is used to emphasize the point that the emotional experience of love serves as a strong contrast to merely encountering an abstract or theoretical concept of love.

In conclusion of Romeo and Juliet literary analysis of play: Shakespeare used many literary devices; we see the tragic story of two lovers who act out their individuality, their freedom, the only way that they can be together, even in death. Furthermore, they preferred dying over living which also leads to another binary opposition which is unity in death over separation in life; for them, it is victory/defeat over their families and the social rules.



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