Romeo and Juliet Literay Terms

Light/Dark Imagery One of the play’s most constant visual motifs is the contrast between light and dark, often in terms of night/day imagery. This contrast is not given a particular metaphoric meaning – light is not always good, and dark is not always evil. On the contrary, light and dark are generally used to provide a sensory contrast and to hint at opposed alternatives.
Personification Occurs when an inanimate object or concept is given the qualities of a person of animal.
Oxymoron Describes when two opposite words have opposing or very diverse meanings.
Foreshadowing A reference to something that will happen later in the story.
Pun A humorous play on words, a bawdy pun is an inappropriate play on words.
Setting A story’s time, place, and background.
Allusion Reference to a historical or literary figure, event, or object.
Imagery Representation in words of a vivid sensory experience.
Point of view Perspective of the person who is telling the story.
Paradox A phrase that may seem to contradict itself but is nevertheless true.
Rhyme Similar sounds between the ends of two words.
Metaphor An implied comparison between two unlike things.
Soliloquy A speech an actor gives as though talking to himself or herself.
Aside Words spoken by an actor supposedly heard only by the audience
Hyperbole A figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect.
Simile A direct Comparison of unlike things using “like” or “as.”
Protagonist The main character.
Antagonist The person opposing the main character.
Theme The main idea.
Tragedy A story with an unhappy ending.
Personification Example Example: Juliet – “For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night / Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back. / Come gentle night, come, loving black-brow’d night” (Act III Sc 2)
Oxymoron Example Example: Juliet – “Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!” (Act III Sc 2)
Foreshadowing Example Example: Juliet – “Give me my Romeo: and, when he shall die, take him and cut him out into little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garnish sun.” (Act III Sc 2)
Pun Example Example: Mercutio – “Nay gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.”Romeo – “Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes / With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead…” (Act I Sc 4)
Allusion Example Example: In Act I, Scene 1, Romeo says that Rosaline “Hath Dian’s wit.” he is alluding to Diana, goddess of chastity, who opposed love and marriage. In other words, Rosaline thinks like Diana and will not fall in love with Romeo.
Imagery Example Example: In Act I, Scene 4, Romeo uses imagery to describe Juliet’s beauty when he says, “So shows a dove trooping with crows / as yonder lady o’er her fellows show.”
Point of view Example Example: In Act I, Scene 5, Tybalt is upset that Romeo, a Montague, has come to his Uncle’s party. He says “I’ll not endure him” His point of view is that an enemy should not be allowed to attend the party.
Paradox Example Example: in Act I, Scene 5, Juliet expresses a paradox when she speaks of Romeo, saying, ” My only love has sprung from my only hate.”
Rhyme Example Example: In the prologue to Act II, the Chorus speaks in a sonnet, a form of a poem. The first four line contain alternating rhymes: “Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,And Young affection gapes to be his heir.That fair for which love groaned for and would dieWith tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.”
Metaphor Example Example: IN Act II, Scene 2, Romeo uses a metaphor, saying, “Juliet is the sun,” meaning that Juliet is bright and beautiful.
Soliloquy Example Example: Romeo starts his famous soliloquy about Juliet with the words, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks.” He is speaking to himself about Juliet.
Setting Example Example: Although no specific date is given, most scholars say that the play probably takes place around 1200 or 1300 AD, when Italian families were feuding.
Aside Example Example: Romeo uses asides as he is listening to Juliet’s soliloquy in Act II, Scene 2. He says, “She speaks.” He is not talking to Juliet, the only other person on stage, but the audience.
Hyperbole Example Example: In act II, Scene 2, Juliet says that her “bounty is as boundless as the sea.”
Simile Example Example: In Act II, Scene 6, Friar Lawrence uses a simile to warn Romeo about being too passionate too soon. He says:”These violent delights have violent endsand in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume.”
Protagonist Example Example: Romeo is the protagonist
Antagonist Example Example: Tybalt is the antagonist
Theme Example Example: One theme is “haste makes waste.” Which means hurrying too much often creates problems.
Tragedy Example Example: Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy because the two main characters, along with four others, die.
Conflict The struggle between opposing forces or characters.
Conflict Example Example: Tybalt’s hatred of the Montagues, especially Romeo, which ends with a fight.
Characters The people – sometimes animals or other beings – who take pat in the action in a piece of literature.
Characters Example Example: Romeo, Juliet, Friar Lawrence, Tybalt, Mercutio, and all others in the play.

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