Romeo and Juliet Literary Terms Definitions and Examples

quatrain a stanza of four lines, especially one having alternate rhymes
sonnet a poem of fourteen lines using any formal rhyme scheme (ababcdcdefefgg)
blank verse verse without rhyme, especially that which uses iambic pentameter
antithesis the exact opposite of something or someone; contrasting or contradicting words
pun a joke exploiting different possible meanings of a word or the fact that some words sound alike but have different meanings
couplet two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit
oxymoron a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunction
soliloquy the act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by yourself or regardless of any hearers; reveals inner thoughts of characters
aside a remark or passage by a character in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but not the other characters
lyric poetry a short poem of emotion and songlike quality
simile a comparison of two things using “like” or “as” to make a description more emphatic or vivid
hyperbole exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally
internal rhyme a rhyme in the same line, involving the middle word and end word rhyming with each other
monologue a long speech by one actor in a play or movie, or a program, in which the other characters can hear it
dramatic irony the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play
assonance the repetition of the sound of a vowel in non-rhyming words
alliteration the occurance of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words
external conflict struggle between a character and an outside force, such as nature or another character, which drives the action of the plot
internal conflict struggle occuring within a character’s mind to reach a decision
verbal irony irony in which a person says or writes one thing and means another, or uses words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of the literal meaning
cosmic irony the idea that fate, destiny, or a god controls and toys with human hopes and expectations; also called that irony of fate
aubade a poem or piece of music appropriate to the dawn or early morning; two lovers argue whether it is day or night
image make a representation of an external form
climax a decisive moment that is of maximum intensity or is a major turning point in a plot
anachronism an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period which it doesnot belong
metaphor a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else; compares two unlike things
paradox a statement that contradicts itself
allusion passing reference or indirect mention to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance
personification the attribution of personal, nature, or human characteristics to something nonhuman
metonymy the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant
apostrophe an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea
Act I, scene ii: Capulet’s speech to Paris in lines 13-34 quatrain
the Prologue to Act I sonnet
Act I, scene iv lines 50-51: Romeo: “I dreamed a dream/tonight”Mercutio: “And so/did I” blank verse
Act I, scene i: Romeo about Rosaline: “Here’s much to do with hate, but more to do with love”Act I, scene v: Juliet about Romeo: “My only love sprung from my only hate!” antithesis
Act I, scene iv: Romeo to Mercutio: “You have dancing shoes/with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead” pun
Act I, scene ii: Benvolio to Romeo: “But in that crystal scales let there be weighed/Your lady’s love against some other maid.” couplet
“loving hate” “wise fool” oxymoron
Act II, scene ii: Juliet speaking to the heavens about Romeo soliloquy
Act II, scene ii: Romeo’s comment about Juliet’s speech to the heavens: “She speaks/O’ speak again bright angel” aside
the sonnet in The Prologue for Act I lyric poetry
Act II, scene ii: Juliet to Romeo: “I have no joy in this contract tonight./It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;/Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be” simile
Act II, scene ii: Romeo to Juliet: “Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye/Than twenty of their swords!” hyperbole
Act I, scene ii- Lord Capulet to Paris: “But saying o’er what I said before!” internal rhyme
Act I, scene iv- Mercutio’s Queen Mab Speech monologue
Act II, scene i- Mercutio and Benvolio are unaware that Romeo no longer loves Rosaline dramatic irony
Act II, scene ii- Juliet to Romeo: “O gentle Romeo,/ If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully” assonance
Act III, scene i: Romeo: “This day’s black fate on more days doth depend.” alliteration
Act III, scene i: Mercutio and Tybalt’s fight external conflict
Act III, scene ii: Juliet’s dilemma over whether or not to love or hate Romeo for killing Tybalt internal conflict
Act III, scene v: Juliet to Lady Capulet: “O’ how my heart abhors/To hear him named and cannot come to him,/To wreak the love I bore my cousin/Upon his body that hath slaughtered him!” verbal irony
Act III, scene i: Romeo after killing Tybalt: “O, I am fortune’s fool.” cosmic irony
Act III, scene v: Juliet to Romeo: “Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day./It was the nightingale, and not the lark” aubade
Act III, scene v: Juliet to Romeo: “Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low,/As one dead in the bottom of a tomb./Either my eyesight fails, or thou lookest pale.” image
Act III, scene i: Romeo’s killing Tybalt climax
Act III, scene iii: Romeo to the Friar: “As if that name,/Shot from the deadly level of a gun,/Did murder her,” anachronism
Act IV, scene v: Lord Capulet to Lady Capulet: “Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.” metaphor
Act III, scene ii: Juliet’s response that Romeo has killed Tybalt: “O serpent heart, hid with a flow’ring face!/Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?/Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!” paradox
Act III, scene ii: Juliet’s soliloquy: “Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,/Towards Phoebus lodging! Such a wagoner/As Phaeton would whip you to the west/And bring in cloudy night immediately.” allusion
Act IV, scene v: Lord Capulet to Paris and the Friar: “Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir,/My daughter he hath wedded.” personification
Act III, scene iii: Friar to Romeo: “O, then I see that madmen have no ears.” “How should they, when that wise men have no eyes?” metonymy
Act III, scene v: Juliet after Romeo has left her: “O Fortune, Fortune! All men call thee fickle.” apostrophe

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