Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well-known plays in history. It’s a captivating piece of literature that sees two cursed lovers caught in tragedy. Shakespeare’s use of characters, settings, and moods brought his literature to life. Romeo and Juliet is a representation of fate in many ways. His use of literary devices including foreshadowing, metaphors, and prologue helps him construct this famous play. These are some themes and devices that helped Shakespeare create it.
A consistent theme in Romeo and Juliet is foreshadowing. It gives the audience a better understanding of what’s happening because it was anticipated before. It can also make certain events more believable because it was hinted at previously. An example would be when Friar Lawrence says to Romeo “These violent delight have violent ends.” it foreshadows the ending in that the ‘violent delights’ is Romeo and Juliet’s marriage and the ‘violent ends’ is the death at the end of the play. At the time when Friar says this you don’t know what happens at the end, but when the ending occurs it gives a connection back to this quote. Another example of foreshadowing is when Romeo says “Life were better ended by thy hate, than death prorogued, wanting of thy love”. This quote means that Romeo is saying he would rather have Juliet’s love and die on the spot than not have her love and die later. This also foreshadows the ending when Romeo literally dies by Juliet’s side and with her love. Shakespeare’s use of foreshadowing really brought life to Romeo and Juliet.
A device that Shakespeare used effectively was metaphors. A metaphor can make understanding text easier because it makes a comparison between two dissimilar things as if they were the same so people can relate to it. It can create more vivid images in the audiences head. An example is when Lady Capulet says “Find written in the murgent of his eyes. The precious book of love, this unbound lover, To beautify him only lacks a cover.” This quote describes Paris as a book and Lady Capulet is trying to suggest that the benefits of marrying him are easy to see. She then continues to suggest all he needs is a ‘cover’. The ‘cover’ being Juliet. A second example of metaphors is when Romeo says “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand”. A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. He is saying that his lips are ready to ‘journey’ to Juliet’s lips. There are many hidden metaphors in Romeo and Juliet these are just a few that helped the play become what it is.
We can get a lot of information about fate from the prologue. In the prologue, Shakespeare outlines the issue of the feuding families and the secret love of “A pair of star-cross’d lovers”. An example of fate would be the whole prologue. It hints at the main events in the play like “The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love.” This quote tells us that their love is doomed so that the audience anticipates their ending. ‘Fearful passage’ could mean that they are not in control of their future, fate is. A second example is referring back to “A pair of star-cross’d lovers…”. This quote represents fate in that during the Elizabethan era, stars played a big role in people’s beliefs along with god. People believed that the position of the stars and the sun would affect or predict your fate and future. So this quote means that their future is being controlled by an outside force or forces. Shakespeare’s prologue helped the play massively. The application of foreshadowing in the prologue put the play into context.
These were some of the key literary devices Shakespeare used in Romeo and Juliet. It’s amazing how he used so many of these devices in just 5 acts. But now it leaves me wondering. Did he really mean to use them?