Romeo and Juliet Literary and Dramatic Terms

Aside Words spoken by a character to the audience or to another character that are not supposed to be overheard by others on stageAbram. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?Example: (Act I, Scene 1) Sampson. (aside to Gregory). Is the law on our side if I say ay?Gregory. (aside to Sampson). No. Sampson. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
Act A main division of a drama. Shakespeare’s plays consist of five acts with each act subdivided into scenes.
Alliteration The repetition of the same initial sound in two or more consecutive or closely associated words.
Allusion A reference to a literary or historical person or event to explain a present situation.
Comic relief A humorous scene or speech in a serious drama which is meant to provide relief from emotional intensity and, by contrast, to heighten the seriousness of the story.
Foil A foil is literally a “leaf” or sheet of bright metal placed under a piece of jewelry to increase its brilliance. In literature, by extension, the term is applied to any person or sometimes an object that through strong contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another.
Hyperbole A figure of speech in which conscious exaggeration is used without the intent of literal persuasion. It may be used to heighten effect, or it may be used to produce comic effect.
Irony A contrast between what is and what appears to be. One type of irony is VERBAL in which a character says one thing and means another. Another is DRAMATIC irony in which the audience knows something that the characters do not.
Metaphor A figure of speech that implies or states a comparison between two unlike things which are similar in some way.Example: “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!”
Paradox A phrase or statement that while seemingly contradictory or absurd may actually be well- founded or true. Paradox is a rhetorical device used to attract attention, to secure emphasis.
Personification A figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas.Example: “Jocund day/ Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops;”
Simile A figure of speech that states a comparison between two essentially unalike things which are similar in one aspect, using like or as.Example: “She hangs upon the check of night/ Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear;”
Tragedy A type of drama of human conflict which ends in defeat and suffering. Often the main character (dignified, noble) has a TRAGIC FLAW (weakness of character, wrong judgment) which leads to his or her destruction. Sometimes the conflict is with forces beyond the control of the character – fate , evil in the world.
Iambic pentameter Line of poetry that contains five unstressed and five stressed syllables
Blank verse Poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameterMercutio.Example: (Act I, Scene 4) O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes In shape no bigger than an agate-stone On the fore-finger of an alderman, Drawn with a team of little atomies Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Couplet Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme
Dialogue Conversation between characters in a story or play
Imagery Language that appeals to the senses Romeo.Example: (Act I, Scene 5) My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready standTo smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Sonnet Fourteen-line poem—usually written in iambic pentameter—having a specific rhyme schemeChorus.Example: (Prologue) Two households, both alike in dignity,a b a b c d c d e f1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, e Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Oxymoron Combination of two contradictory elements Romeo.Example: (Act I, Scene 1) Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
Pun Play on the multiple meaning of a word OR words that sound alike but have different meaningsMercutio.That dreamers often lie.Example: (Act I, Scene 4) Romeo.In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.Dreamers lie (are false), and lie (down)
Dramatic Monologue A long speech directed at other characters onstageJuliet. Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face;Example: (Act 2, Scene 1) Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheekFor that which thou hast heard me speak to-night. Fain would I dwell on form — fain, fain deny What I have spoke; but farewell compliment! Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay’; And I will take thy word. Yet, if thou swear’st, Thou mayst prove false. At lovers’ perjuries, They say Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully. Or if thou thinkest I am too quickly won, I’ll frown, and be perverse, and say thee nay, So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond, And therefore thou mayst think my havior light; But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
Onomatopoeia Use of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaningNurse.Example: (Act I, Scene 5) I tell you, he that can lay hold of herShall have the chinks*(*chinks = money< sounds like change rattling)
Soliloquy Long speech in which a character who is alone onstage expresses his/her thoughts aloudJuliet.Example: (Act II, Scene 5) The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;In half an hour she promised to return. Perchance she cannot meet him: that’s not so. O, she is lame! love’s heralds should be thoughts, Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams, Driving back shadows over louring hills: Therefore do nimble-pinion’d doves draw love, And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings. Now is the sun upon the highmost hill Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve Is three long hours, yet she is not come.

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