In his play, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare uses various examples of figurative language. He does this through the use of allusions, metaphors and foreshadowing in order to develop character and plot.
Shakespeare uses one specific type of figurative to give you plot, and that type is foreshadowing. Through out the play Shakespeare continuously gives hints that give you more meaning to the purpose of the verse. In some cases, Shakespeare reveals plot, in this case upcoming death or misery like when the chorus says, “A pair of star crossed lovers take their life….whose misadventured piteous overthrows.” In that passage, the chorus talks of Romeo and Juliet’s unfortunate love, which foreshadows their certain end. In the verse right before Juliet takes the potion Friar Laurence gave to her, she is doubtful that she will ever see her family, again foreshadowing her upcoming death,” God knows when we shall meet again.. I have a faint cold fear thrills through. Sometimes the speaker has no knowledge of the foreshadowing she or he is doing such as the time when Friar Laurence was predicting unfortunate events were about to happen before he entered the Capulet Tomb.
Shakespeare uses metaphors, many allusions, and some conceits in order to develop characterization. When Romeo stated “It is the east and Juliet is the sun, Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon” Shakespeare is using a metaphor to compare Juliet to the sun. This passage implies that Juliet is as great and as bright as the sun (good) which eliminates darkness (evil) as it arises, He also uses an allusion to metaphorically compare Juliet to Helios, the sun god, and is asking Juliet to arise and eliminate the evil of darkness, Artemis, the Greek moon goddess. Shakespeare also compares Paris to a book when lady Capulet says “Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face” which is a conceit to show the reading that Paris is like a perfect book and “only lacks a cover”.
The “cover” of a book is also another conceit which supposedly represents Juliet and her part in marriage to Paris. Shakespeare tries to imply that Paris is almost perfect and needs only Juliet to marry him to become complete. Another example where Shakespeare uses a conceit is when Friar Lawrence is outside of his cell gathering herbs. He indirectly compares everyday people to “plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities” and saying how alike plants and people are because “Virtue itself turns vice being misapplied, and vice sometimes by action dignified”. This conceit shows how some people can turn good or evil, and characterizes friar Laurence because he tries to convert evil, the two feuding families, to good by using the good of Romeo and Juliet’s love.
Shakespeare brings into play the use of imagery. Romeo relates Juliet to an image of a saint that should be worshiped, a role that Juliet is willing to play. One of the play’s most constant visual image is the contrast between light and dark, frequently in conditions of night and day imagery. This contrast doesn’t have a meaning, light isn’t always good, and dark isn’t always evil. On the contrary, light and dark are generally used to supply a comparison and to indicate at different options. One of the most important cases of this motif is Romeo’s lengthy contemplation on the sun and the moon during the balcony scene, in which Juliet is metaphorically described as the sun, is seen as “kill[ing] the envious moon” and converting the night into day. A similar vague impression of night and day occurs in the morning after Romeo and Juliet’s night together.
Romeo is enforced to depart for exile in the morning, but Juliet, doesn’t want him to leave her room. So the lovers pretended that it is still night, and that the light is actually darkness: “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes.”Shakespeare develops character and plot by using a variety of allusions, metaphors, conceits, and foreshadowing events. His diction and use of figurative language greatly contributes to his play and helps the reader to have a better understanding of the characters and plot. Shakespeare’s use of foreshadowing greatly develops the plot and his conceits and allusions develop characterization. By using figurative language through his diction, Shakespeare is able to explain his many purposes.
“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare