This lesson is a summary of the metaphors in Act 1 of Shakespeare's ''Romeo and Juliet''. Read on to learn more about the many comparisons made in this very interesting act.
In the first act of Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, one of the literary devices used a lot is the metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words 'like' or 'as'. Using those words would give you a simile.
Act 1 has several metaphors, and some of them aren't that pretty. Let's take a look at who used comparisons in this act.
In Scene 1, Prince Escalus compares the fighting Capulets and Montagues to beasts, saying that they quench the fire of their harmful rage with blood. Their arguing in the street reminds him of the way that animals behave. The fact that he refers to them as beasts takes it a step further because a beast seems more brutal and ferocious than a regular animal.
In Scene 2, Benvolio compares Rosaline to a swan and a crow. Benvolio admits that to Romeo, she is a beautiful and graceful swan but contends that Romeo only sees her this way because he has not considered other girls. Once he does, Benvolio suggests that the beauty of the other girls will make Rosaline look like a totally different bird: an unattractive crow.
In Scene 3, Lady Capulet compares a beautiful woman to a cover or a wrapper for an object. She uses this comparison when she is talking to Juliet about marriage saying that the woman surrounds the man with her beauty.
In Scene 4, Mercutio compares pulling Romeo out of his funk to pulling a horse out of the mud. The difficulty of this situation is primarily because of the animal's weight. Being lovesick has given Romeo a heavy heart.
In Scene 1, Romeo compares love to several things: a smoke made with the flames of signs, a sparkling fire in a lover's eye, wise madness, choking gall (deadly poison), and a preserving sweet (a healing medicine). Only two out of the five comparisons speak of love in a positive light. Referring to love as something that preserves or creates sparks is hopeful and exciting. However, when these images are overshadowed by negative images, like poison, smoke signals, and madness, one gets the idea that the speaker is a bit lovesick.
In Scene 2, Romeo compares his current lovesick state to being in a straight-jacket, like an insane person. He feels bound by his feelings, unable to assume his normal, everyday functions with ease.
In Scene 4, Romeo compares love to a rough, prickly thorn. He has compared love to many other things that weren't quite so positive (a deadly poison and a smoke signal, for example), but this comparison suggests a repelling quality in love. Once a person has been pricked by a thorn, he or she wants to stay away and not repeat the experience.
Romeo and Juliet
In Scene 5, Romeo and Juliet both compare kissing to placing palms together since kissing brings two people's lips together. In a flirtatious gesture, Romeo puts his palm together with Juliet's to mimic the action of kissing, just before he actually does kiss her.
This lesson summarized the metaphors (the comparisons that do not use the words, 'like' or 'as') in the first act of Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet. The characters Prince Escalus, Benvolio, Lady Capulet, Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet, all use metaphors in the first act. One of the main topics of comparison is love.