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Shakespeare’s Use of Literary Devices to Convey The Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet

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Shakespeare’s Use of Literary Devices to Convey The Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet Essay

Shakespeare’s use of oxymorons and similies emphasizes the theme of love and the power of teenage love in Romeo and Juliet and in result, makes the play relevant today. Carrying over the fact that young lovers will do unpredictable and crazy things for love, Romeo and Juliet holds several oxymorons that teaches us the dangers of being in love. As Romeo speaks in I.i.166-171, the use of oxymorons such as ‘O brawling love’ and ‘O loving hate’ reveals his deep infatuation with Rosaline. His obsession is accented by contradicting love with hate; a positive emotion with a negative. Shakespeare uses these contradictory terms such as ‘bright smoke’, ‘cold fire’ and ‘sick health’ to express the turmoil love can create. Romeo being madly in love with Rosaline, but then marrying Juliet, a girl he is insatiable for, within 12 hours is a powerful juxta position which draws the line between falling in love and being infatuated. Though love can be dangerous, it can also be beautiful. In II.ii.26-28, Romeo uses sentimental similes to describe Juliet, ‘bright angel, for thou art…as is winged messenger of heaven’, establishing his admiration and affection. ‘Rich jewel in Ethiop’s ear’ and ‘snowy dove’, I.v.45-47, describes the rarity of Juliet’s beauty and expensive like a gem, and pure, heavenly and innocent like a dove. Then in the same scene, line 93, Romeo intensifies Juliet as an actual ‘shrine’, proving that his feelings are on a spiritual level. Using the power of three, Shakespeare successfully conveyed this strong love between Romeo and Juliet to be beautiful and quite literally breathtaking. Irrational teenage decisions for love will end in consequences. Young infatuation is not a good reason to kill yourself, which is an important message relevant not only today but for all time.

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare teaches us that the relationships between teenagers and their families can divide relationships and cause serious conflict. Both the Montague and Capulet suffered the deaths of their own children to realize that their immature feud had to end to prevent further losses. They loathed each other more than death itself. The foreshadowing creates dramatic irony within the play, because the audience can imply what will happen to the characters before they realise themselves. Friar Lawrence warns Romeo and Juliet to ‘love moderately’ because ‘violent delights have violent ends’ Upon Juliet rejecting her father’s idea of marrying her to Paris, Capulet reacts violently and physically harms her for he believes Juliet is his property and he has the right to sell her. Arranged marriages were common, and Juliet speaks that being able to marry freely is ‘an honour (she) dreams not of’ I.iii.67. This violence solved nothing, and only goes on to show that families influence their children and can be problematic. Though it is less common today, there are still arranged marriages and parents still influence their child, matching them up with ‘the perfect husband/wife’. The controlling environment has both lead Romeo and Juliet to find their new parental figures, the nurse and Friar Lawrence, as they know and care about the two teenagers more than the blood parents. Gathered from this is that love and loyalty to blood drives actions and violence, which in the end will solve nothing.

Romeo and Juliet is culturally relevant in today’s society because of the idea that hatred can be chaotic. There was never a winner among the meaningless Montague and Capulet rivalry, with death being the only consequence. This ‘ancient grudge’, prologue.3, is what created the impossible love between the ‘star-crossed lovers’, Romeo and Juliet. If the two opposing families got over their childish hostility towards each other, Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t need to keep their love a secret, and could’ve prevented a tragic ending. by juxta positioning, Shakespeare portray the two young innocent lovers as the light, and the hate of their families as darkness. ‘my only love sprung from my only hate!’ I.v.137 shows that Juliet is devastated that her true love originates from the one family that she should hate. This line echoes Romeo from I.i.166, ‘here’s much to do with hate, but more with love’. Through I.v.137-40, Juliet’s words contains many antitheses, such as love/hate, early/late, unknown/known. ‘my grave is like to be my wedding bed’, I.v.134, is foreshadowing the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, which teaches us that we should overcome hatred to escape the consequences. This lesson is still relevant today because hate is still an immense motivator in our world, and where our loyalty lies may not be where our love is. Shakespeare has used Romeo and Juliet to teach us that hate can be irrational and destructive, and that we should ‘love moderately’.  

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Shakespeare’s Use Of Literary Devices To Convey The Theme Of Love In Romeo And Juliet. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
“Shakespeare’s Use Of Literary Devices To Convey The Theme Of Love In Romeo And Juliet.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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