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The Use of Verbal Irony in Romeo and Juliet

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A debatable though I have after comparing and contrasting Juliet (III.ii), Friar Lawrence (III.iii), and Romeo’s (III.iii) reactions to the latter’s banishment is that love has a heavy influence on your thoughts and decisions. Romeo and Juliet have very reactions compared to Friar Lawrences’s. Juliet is really mad at Romeo, at first, but then has internal conflict on if she should be mad at Tybalt. She finally comes to the conclusion, “But with a rearward following Tybalt’s death, /‘Romeo is banishèd.’ To speak that word,/Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet, /All slain, all dead” (III.ii.132-135). Romeo also acts like banishment is worse than death, saying, “There is no world without Verona walls/But purgatory, torture, hell itself. /Hence “banishèd” is banished from the world” (III.iii.17-19). Friar Lawrence, in contrast, says, “Hence from Verona art thou banishèd. /Be patient, for the world is broad and wide” (III.iii.15-16). Clearly, Romeo and Juliet’s reactions to his banishment differ a lot from Friar Lawrence’s.

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Paris has proven that he is in love with Juliet as much as Romeo is in love with Juliet in the past acts and in III.iv. Previously, Paris asked for Capulet’s blessing for him to marry Juliet, saying that, “Younger than she are happy mothers made” (I.v.12). His determination and/or disregard for her young age for love is similar to how Romeo disregards their houses for love. He also asks for Juliet’s hand in marriage directly after Tybalt is killed, saying, “These times of woe afford no time to woo. /[…]Commend me to your daughter” (III.iv.9-10). He contradicts himself by asking Lady Capulet for Juliet’s hand in marriage while he just says that this is no time for romance. His illogical decisions show how much he loves Juliet, similar to how much Romeo loves Juliet.

The verbal irony in III.v.87-88; 90-91 is that Juliet seems like she is mourning Tybalt’s death and wants Romeo to be killed, to Lady Capulet, while the readers know that she is actually saying the opposite. She says, “And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart” (III.v.88) and “Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death!” (III.v.91). While it seems that Juliet is talking about mourning Tybalt and wanting revenge against Romeo, it is clear to the reader that she is mourning Romeo and wants revenge for Romeo. The verbal irony in III.v.98-100; 101-107 emphasizes further that Juliet wants revenge against Romeo while she mourns him. She says, “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied/With Romeo, till I behold him—dead— /Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed” (III.v.98-100). She says that she wants him dead while the reader understands that she wants the opposite. She goes a step further, saying that she herself wants to poison Romeo, saying, “To wreak the love I bore my cousin/ Upon his body that slaughtered him!” (III.v.106-107). There is clearly verbal irony in what Juliet says in III.v. that is used so Lady Capulet does not know that she loves Romeo, at first.

The metaphors that Capulet uses in (III.v.131-143) to describe Juliet’s crying show that he does not know why she is crying as he arrives. He says, “In one little body/ Thou counterfeit’st a bark, a sea, a wind,/For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea, /Do ebb and flow with tears” (III.v.135-138). Capulet compares Juliet to a boat or ship at sea and her eyes to the sea. The way he describes Juliet makes her seem like she is crying intensely, but he does not show any resentment towards her crying, showing that he does not yet know the reason why she is crying. He also says, “the winds thy sighs,/ Who, raging with thy tears, and they with them,/Without a sudden calm will overset/ Thy tempest-tossèd body” (III.v.139-142). He compares her sighs to the wind, and says that her crying is so intense that she would soon sink herself/her own ship. This also shows that Capulet recognizes her heavy sobs but is not aware of the source and instead think that it is because of joy of marrying Paris.

Capulet displays new traits of being demanding and strict in III.v. While he seemed to be a bit more considerate towards Juliet on her decision to marry who she wants in II.i., in III.v, he clearly shows that he resents Juliet’s want to be with Romeo and not marry Paris. He exclaims, “But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next/ To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,/Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither./Out, you green sickness, carrion! Out, you baggage!” (III.v.158-161). He clearly feels betrayed by Juliet saying that she won’t marry Paris and takes out his anger by ordering her to marry him anyways, showing his strictness. He also says, “An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend. /An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,/For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee, /Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.” (III.v.203-206). Capulet clearly shows that he is infuriated with Juliet because she won’t marry Paris even if he is the best match for her, based on what Capulet says. He says that if Juliet will be his daughter, she will marry Paris, and if not, she will be left out to die. Capulet clearly shows that he does not value his daughter’s opinions and emotions, but rather focuses on the best for their family/house as a whole.   

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