Literary terms for Romeo and Juliet

Metaphor This is a stated or implied comparison between to essentially UNLIKE things that does NOT use like or as. A good example is in III, v, when Lord Capulet sees Juliet crying and tells her that “For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,/ Do ebb and flow with tears. The bark thy body is,/ Sailing in this salt flood.”
Puns This a play on a word’s meaning or a play based on a homophone. The play begins with a play on the words collier, choler, and collar.
Oxymoron a self-contradicting term; a good example is “feather of lead, sick health…”
Dramatic Irony The most famous example of dramatic irony in all of the drama is when Romeo remarks that Juliet looks great for a dead girl in the tomb, but the audience knows it is because she is not dead.
Foreshadowing This is a hint that something bad is going to happen later. A good example is when Romeo remarks that he feels “Something yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin” on the night of the party.
Personification This is giving human characteristics to something non-human. A good example is in Act I when Romeo says, “Alas that love so gentle in his Veiw/ Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.”
Alliteration This is the repetition of consonant sounds. When Mercutio calls Tybalt the “courageous captain of compliments,” he is giving you a good example.
Rhymed couplet This is two lines that rhyme. You will notice that the nobility tend to speak end their speeches with these. Lady Capulet ends her rant about Romeo with, “I beg justice, which thou, prince, must give!/ Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live!”
Iambic pentametre “Two households, both alike in dignity.”
pun “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”
Pun Romeo: The game was ne’er so fair, and I am done.Mercutio: Tut! Dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word! If thou art Dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire. (I.iv.39-41)
dramatic irony When the audience knows that Juliet is not really dead.
monologue Mercutio’s long speech to Romeo about Queen Mab.
foreshadowing “I dreamt my lady came and found me dead.”
oxymoron “Damned saint, an honorable villain!”
allusion “She [Rosaline] has Dian’s wit…”
personification “Death lies on her . . . an untimely frost…”
metaphor “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.”
oxymoron “Oh heavy lightness, serious vanity. / Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, / Still-waking sleep . . .”
metaphor “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand / to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
personification It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night / Like a rich jewel …”
situational irony Capulet’s unexpected action of moving up the wedding date.
metaphor “Two such opposed kings encamp them still / In man as well as herbs—grace and rude will”
Allusion “She’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow”
Foreshadowing “Methinks I see thee . . . as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.”
Oxymoron “sweet sorrow” “loving hate” “Dove-feathered raven!”
Personification “The grey eyed morn smiles on the frowning night”
Allusion “a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”
Situational Irony Romeo’s attempt to bring peace between Mercutio and Tybalt leads to Mercutio’s death
Verbal Irony “My grave is like to be my wedding-bed”
Personification “Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir; My daughter he hath wedded.”
Foreshadowing “I fear, too early; for my mind misgives / Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars … Of a despise life, closed in my breast, / By some vile forfeit of untimely death.”
metaphor “Find written in the margins of his eyes. / This precious book of love, this unbound lover.”
pun “Being but heavy, I will bear the light.”
pun “You have dancing shoes with nimble soles. I have a soul of lead /So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”
rhyming coupl “My only love sprung from my only hate!Too early seen unknown, and known too late!”
aside “Is she a Capulet?O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.”
pun “Compare her face with some that I shall show,And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.”
Allusion “Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero hildings and harlots . . .”

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